It’s Not About What’s Wrong With You

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.”

– Jose Narosky

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As our combat veterans have returned from overseas, more awareness is being placed on their medical treatment or some would say, “lack thereof.”  These medical issues have led to headline stories concerning Post Traumatic Stress.  Some like to call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  But I don’t subscribe to the notion of it being a disorder.  It’s not about what’s wrong with you.  It’s about what happened to you.

On this Veterans Day I wanted to pay remembrance to all our veterans by re-posting a quote from Lt Col Dave Grossman’s concerning the psychological impact of combat.

“Swank and Marchand’s World War II study noted the existence of 2 percent of combat soldiers who are predisposed to be “aggressive psychopaths” and apparently do not experience the normal resistance to killing and the resultant psychiatric casualties associated with extended periods of combat.  But the negative connotations associated with the term “psychopath,” or its modern equivalent “sociopath,” are inappropriate here, since this behavior is a generally desirable one for soldiers in combat.  It would be absolutely incorrect to conclude that 2 percent of all veterans are psychopathic killers.  Numerous studies indicate that combat veterans are no more inclined to violence than nonvets.  A more accurate conclusion would be that there is 2 percent of the male population that, if pushed or if given a legitimate reason, will kill without regret or remorse.  What these individuals represent – and this is terribly important point that I must emphasize – is the capacity for the levelheaded participation in combat that we as a society glorify and that Hollywood would have us believe that all soldiers possess.  In the course of interviewing veterans as part of this study I have met several individuals who may fit within this 2 percent, and since returning from combat they have, without fail, proven themselves to be above average contributors to the prosperity and welfare of our society.”

I’m not a psychiatrist and I’m not writing this post to come to any concrete conclusions about the “why’s” and “how’s.”  I’m using this Veterans Day more to make you think about what exactly the combat veteran has gone through, what they have seen, what they have done and what they are bring back home with them.

Happy Veterans Day.  Thank you.

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