Monday, March 31, 2008

The saga of flashbacks, PTSD, and dysfunctional lives of Iraq War vets emerges

LOST AT HOME. The story of this young Iraq War vet is tragic. Eric Hall, recently returned from Iraq, had a flashback when a brush fire broke out, burrowed into a pipeline and died of suffocation. The manner in which his Indiana family and New York Times reporter Damien Cave tell his story and relate it to the larger and growing picture of the ongoing trauma of returning vets is gracious. It is a story we will likely hear repeated again and again in coming years.

A NEW GENERATION OF LOST SOULS. Veterans have a saying that on the home front, wars last a lifetime. As director of a homeless day center for several years, I addressed many Vietnam-era vets who had not yet come home twenty years after the U.S. evacuated the last troops from Saigon. Let us prepare ourselves to caringly address the war that will rage in the minds of some veterans long after the last of American troops leave Iraq. Militarism can train young people to fight wars, but it has yet to adequately return many to our communities and families without serioius war-induced psycho-social traumas. We've got a ways to go and lots of work to do.

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