“In 1919, President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first observance of Armistice Day, the day World War I ended. At that time, some symptoms of present-day PTSD were known as “shell shock” because they were seen as a reaction to the explosion of artillery shells. Its symptoms included panic and sleep problems, among others. Shell shock was first thought to be the result of hidden damage to the brain caused by the impact of the big guns. That changed when more soldiers who had not been near explosions also had its symptoms. Treatment was inconsistent. Soldiers often received only a few days’ rest before being returned to the war zone.
Some American military leaders, such as Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, did not believe “battle fatigue” was real. During World War II, Patton slapped two soldiers who had been hospitalized for battle fatigue, which he considered to be cowardice. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower urged Patton to apologize to all involved, and he did.
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s StoryWe need to look back at the inter-generational tragedy of untreated post WWII “Battle Fatigue.” The boomer generation, as kids, lived and coped with a PTSD home life, then many served in combat during the Vietnam War with their own childhood secondary and complex symptoms of PTSD. Although I did not serve in combat during the Vietnam era as a US Navy veteran, my own post WWII childhood reflects this reality. These young warriors, many drafted, were further damaged with the compounding effects of moral injury sustained in direct combat. Many Vietnam Vets are still homeless and untreated as an aging population severely affected with PTSD.
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.