PTSD / Lessons from old Servicemen
World at War Today
Most of the world is currently involved in war. Now. At this very moment. 2016 – & we are still at it. Media coverage is limited to human stories. A badly injured child or an isolated event captures viewers interest for day or maybe a week – Viewers wonder how any human can be evil enough to harm innocent civilians & we are upset & disturbed – but not for long.
A ‘plane crash or a natural disaster closer to home has a lot more pulling power. It grabs our attention. We find it easier to relate to events that affect small groups of people than to those that cause total devastation. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s the thing in our mind that makes it easier for us to imagine how we would spend £50 000 than £50 000 000 if we won it? Maybe it’s all in the zeros. I don’t know for sure, but will avoid talking numbers just in case.
Possible Peace, Possible Pasts
You & I might believe that our country is at peace, that it has nothing to do with the madness of war. While it is possible that your country is at peace, It is extremely unlikely that it is not involved in war – Regardless of where you live.
The Business of War
Wars are big business. The causes of todays wars are complex, & the war machine has embraced globalisation. Consider the weapons, militia, soldiers for hire, security of all kinds, food, travel, protective clothing, training, arms, artillery, clean water, sanitation, sandbags, ammunition, electronics, communication equipment & all the other stuff that goes into waging war.
Your country is quite certainly part of this supply chain. Peacekeeping in cleared/won areas is yet another facet of war. Resources required & danger levels to people & property are similar. Outreach & medical staff stand shoulder to shoulder with traumatised victims & potentially traumatised security/fighting forces. Many survivors who return home after their mission are changed by their experience.
PTSD – Coming to your Street
PTSD is making a big comeback. It is extremely likely that you will interact with someone who is living with it. Some of these people will be struggling, many more will not even know they are affected. PTSD can cause troubling behaviour in the best of people.
Rational, intelligent, caring people can develop symptoms which affect impulse & addiction control, mood swings,personality & a lot more. Anyone who has been exposed to trauma can experience confusing feelings & behave out of character. Quite recent studies have shown that even those who seem unaffected might develop problems many years after the event.
Aggressors, Victims & Refugees
PTSD affects aggressors as well as victims because often victims become aggressors. Many people are fleeing countries which have been blasted back into the stone age & cannot support human life – They too cross our borders along with our homecoming servicemen. A huge percentage of the global population is moving from huge land masses & into small countries.
We will come into contact with people who have both experienced & perhaps caused harm to others. Some of us might feel empathy, other might feel fear or resentful. Many will be suspicious because it is impossible to tell the victims from the perpetrators of violence. We know our authorities can’t. They are forced to base decisions on whether a story sounds credible when paperwork is missing or potentially forged. Identity itself can be unverifiable in wartime.
We do know that an increasing number of people in our communities have been exposed to trauma & as such, we need to be more aware of PTSD. How we treat people often affects the way they treat us or others.
Give the Man a Bowl
Troubled people need more than a bowl of soup. Money is getting tighter in the so-called First World, & this is happening at a time when governments are cutting funds for homelessness & for providing proper care for vulnerable in native communities. Tax payers are angry when they see libraries, hospitals & emergency services cut & some begrudge even that bowl of soup.
Politicians need votes, MPs are often out of touch with communities who live on or under the bread line. The “racist” label loses its impact the more the purse closes, & people are voicing their anger. If we consider history, we can expect the voice of the angry to get louder as the purse strings get shorter. Those needing support, whatever the cause of their trauma, are increasingly likely to be left to get on with it in their new countries. The combination of traumatised people seeking refuge in resentful communities is a tinderbox.
We have to get better, as individuals, in dealing with our own feelings & facilitating emotional survival of others. Politicians need to get real, & realise that many people seeking refuge will end up living cheek to cheek with people who are struggling to make ends meet. They cannot continue to make decisions based solely on spreadsheets. If I know that people don’t do well with too large numbers, our clever leaders must have noticed it too. We fight a losing battle trying to solve child abuse, domestic violence & animal welfare atrocities. A huge influx of damaged people moving into our communities is just a few zeros too many…. The mind shudders, then stalls.
Times of Terror
Atrocities, acts of terrorism & pressures on public services are making it easier to blame & shame. This is understandable. Liberals are increasingly likely to have their values tested by events or situations that affect them personally. Radicals will find their viewpoints increasingly more socially acceptable. Society must find some common ground to avoid chaos.
So What Now?
We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but we can be aware of the big ones closest to home. Understanding trauma & how it can affect people is set to become a huge issue for us all. Every life matters. Regardless of where a person is from, if they have suffered trauma they need to be cared for. People are exposed to violence in many forms. It is more likely to occur in deprived areas. Bridges need to be built to link communities, ease tensions & nurture a society where everyone feels they belong. Nobody can do it for us.
Seeing people as individuals re-humanises everyone. Being considerate can be as subtle as reducing noise – Especially screaming & sudden loud noises. It’s nodding a greeeting when passing a stranger in the street & being polite. Listening to people who express views that we don’t like – asking why they feel a certain way instead of telling them they are wrong – opens up space & can diffuse frustration. Tolerance doesn’t mean enabling hate speech, but rather encouraging conversation & the exchange of ideas. Life is hectic. Kindness isn’t time consuming. Changing our attitudes, listening to people who we would prefer to blank out will help us to understand each other better. The soldiers in the bush wars came from many countries but they found a way to unite under one flag. They found a way to blend despite their differences. Hopefully, it won’t take a war to teach us how to get on with & appreciate one another. Everybody has a value, & but you need to look & listen to find it sometimes.
Your government & your leaders cannot legislate how we respond to & deal with each other. I certainly do not have the answers, but I can see that many of us are likely to learn a lot more about ourselves in the next few years than we ever have before. PTSD is going to affect our societies more than anytime since the world wars. We are going to have to find new ways of dealing with it without the close sense of community support that globalisation has torn up. The old ways won’t work. Churches have given way to New Age groups who lack the Women’s Committee & other structures that traditionally raised funds & filled the funding holes in social spend.
Lessons from Old Servicemen – One Last Battle
Life cannot be lived backwards, but we can learn from yesterday. Please browse this section on PTSD – While it is mainly about the Bush Wars of yesteryear, these old soldiers might still have a last battle ahead of them – To help us learn lessons from turning our backs on them because their wars were unpopular. Not all servicemen were affected by the trauma, many were. Some of them found their own way forward, some got it right, some got it partly right & lots muddled through.
- Groups were formed were the guys could drink & tell war stories
- Others became loners
- Some found a few beers or brandies at night took the edge off
- Many found meaning & purpose through spirituality
Some never did.
There were those who became alcoholics, addicts, abusive in the home or hurt themselves. There were also too many who killed themselves & sometimes took their families or other people with them. Some murdered, some were just mean. All were abandoned, left without support to sink or swim.
Who’s to bless & Who’s to Blame – Kris Kristofferson
I am working on a section dealing with PTSD, but I am just a part-time blogger. Please contact me if you have anything to say that might add value to someone.