Emotional Numbing & “Stoical Silence” Among Combat Veterans… Awareness of the symptoms is key to moving forward in life after war…

by | Jul 18, 2012


http://faculty.massasoit.mass.edu/ttrask/shay.html  Review of Odysseus in America, Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming by Jonathan Shay, M.D., PH.D

Page 64 – “Another veteran described how he had spoiled a very pleasant outing in the early autumn woods with his wife.  When they stopped to picnic, she wanted to sit in a sunny meadow so as not to get chilled.  He insisted on picnicking in deep shade “in the tree line,” because the meadow was too exposed.  Exposed to what?  To sniper and mortar rounds.  In their argument over where to picnic, he agreed that it was chilly, but could not explain to his wife the nonnegotiable fear he experienced in open places.  It’s not that the fear was “unconscious.”  He knew he was afraid of sniper and the mortars but was embarrassed to admit that he was afraid of these things in the pleasant woods of north coastal Massachusetts.”

Naturally, a fight would ensue if your spouse or friend had little or no awareness of the symptoms and effects of PTSD.  Getting educated on this subject is a huge effort and personal responsibility of everyone connected with loved ones or friends who are challenged with making a transition from combat to a safer world at home and life after war.

Emotional numbing and the state of readiness is a condition of most combat veterans who are in the early stages of adjusting to civilian life.  It is very difficult for loved ones to understand and develop patience for this behavior of a person who has been changed by war.  Others can’t be expected to fix the problems of veterans over night, but can facilitate an easier transition and adjustment by becoming highly educated and aware of these conditions.  Marriages and relationships can be salvaged as well with knowledge.  It is a tough road ahead when your loved one returns home, but in the end, we have the best chance for success when we recognize the symptoms, facilitate safe adjustments, and find compromise that works effectively for both partners.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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