The women of WWII were quiet heroines, raising children as single parents, and not knowing for weeks and sometimes months at a time, whether their husbands were alive or if and when they would come home. I write in my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, that when my father finally came home for good at the end of WWII in the summer of 1945, he was a different man. Mother had little or no information on the long term emotional effects on her husband. It was assumed at the time that once the war was over life would be good and all the earlier dreams of happiness as a family would come true. It didn’t take long to discover that Dad was a different man, broken and wounded emotionally from extended combat duty. The dreams of getting on with life would have to wait, for my mother was in for the biggest challenge of her life. How would she cope with this man who’s behavior was that of a different person than when he sailed off to Pearl Harbor on the USS West Virginia in the summer of 1941? My brother Jerry was born in September 1941, three months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Jerry would get to know his Dad for the first time as a 4 year old boy.
I am heartened by the article in the following link http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/321735. The women of 21st Century wars are heroines too, but they are more educated, aware, independent, and have a voice with help from social media technology. They demand answers and they have a strong desire to help their husbands, sons, and daughters when they return home from extended deployments. Following is a quote from the link, including an article from Digital Journal by Samantha A. Torrence dated March 24, 2012.
“Shawn Gourley who has gone through hell and back to save her husband and family has broken her silence and put her story out there for everyone to see. Her courageous effort to bring light to PTSD in her book The War at Home has been a beacon for veterans and their caretakers. Many who have read the book have said “Finally, someone who knows. Someone who is going through what I am going through!” These spouses and veterans began to gather at a Facebook page Shawn set up to help promote her free minibook. The page is called simply Military with PTSD and has now become a support group that is responsible for saving lives and marriages since it was established in August 2010.”
It is an honor and privilege for me to share this story with my blog readers and social media followers. We should all be grateful for the determination and brave work of Shawn Gourley.
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
Quotes from the above link and story, including update on the Madigan Army Base PTSD evaluations.
“After his brain injury in 2010 Bales did not think ( per the article) he was being sent back into a war zone, he actually had already started training to be a Recruiter. And then in December they sent him to Afghanistan. It is unclear in this article why or who made this decision. My Question is did he receive his Medical Treatment and care at Madigan ? Is he one of the ones who suffered PTSD and did not receive proper diagnosis and care ? In the news reports it is said that he saw a friends leg blown off the day prior to the Killing Incident, which begs the question what happened the day before ? Was he witness to a bloody battle or was he wounded as well ? There is too much silence and too many Questions at this point.”
“Troubling new data show there are an average of 950 suicide attempts each month by veterans who are receiving some type of treatment from the Veterans Affairs Department.Seven percent of the attempts are successful, and 11 percent of those who don’t succeed on the first attempt try again within nine months.”
The Sgt. Robert Bales tragedy is terrible news, but will force our nation to take a closer look at extended deployments and the longer term effects on soldiers. This is not a new problem to be sure. In my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, my father spent 66 months in continuous combat duty during World War II. Dad was broken and wounded with life time emotional challenges when he came home. None of us in our family or the community understood him nor his behaviors. He was okay at work while still in the US Navy and later in his career with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. But at home he was not the same man. He acted out and vented his anger on my mother and we siblings. We could only conclude the least path of resistance, Dad was just mean and drank too much… As his son, I feel terrible for not knowing enough while Dad was alive to respond differently, and possibly be more compassionate toward him. It is also apparent that family members are affected with secondary PTSD as the result of living with a troubled combat veteran who does not receive adequate treatment or chooses not to. Long deployments are inhuman and cause moral injury and invisible wounds. Our nation must now take a giant step to change the policies regarding combat theater deployments. Our communities must also step up and take more responsibility for learning how to reintegrate combat veterans who are coming home. The real cost of war far exceeds deaths, physical injury, and emotional wounds in combat; and the huge impact on the national debt for which future generations will pay dearly as a legacy of war.
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story