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Post Traumatic Stress

Discussion in 'WWII General' started by Bell, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. Bell

    Bell Member

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    I hear a lot on the news about American soldiers suffering from PTSD when they come back to the States. Many had committed suicide, killed others, or just became anti-social.

    I wondered then how the people in WWII suffered. My grandfather didn't really talk about his time in the War, only until close to his death did he mention some. I wondered how he might have suffered the same, but no one back then knew what it was. The men were just sent home and expected to live their life as if they never left.
     
  2. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    My father was a World War II Veteran. He was eventually treated for PTSD (although that wasn't the terminology used) both in about 1961 and again in 1972. The worst was in 1972 when he disappeared for about 6 weeks. Many years later I asked him about it and he said the best way to describe it was that he stepped outside of his life to be the person he might have been had he never gone to War. His mind literally disengaged from his real life and he left where we lived and ended up in the place where he had joined the forces. And if he'd not joined the forces then he would never have married a Londoner and would not have had children. He was horrified when taking ill he came to himself in an Emergency Room in another province several weeks later. He told me that the hardest thing was realizing that by rejecting the terrible experiences he had ended up disengaging himself from Mum who was the central focus of his life. And he didn't tell me much about his experiences. On another thread I mention that he used the secrecy oaths has his reason for not talking.

    Something I spoke about at a meeting once and which in a large part I also reproduced elsewhere on the Forum was the following comment:

    "As the daughter of a World War II Veteran, I learned early that my Dad wasn’t the same as the other Dad’s who lived on my street. One of my earliest lessons was never sneak up on Daddy. While his grandchildren would eventually call him “Grandpa Boo,” they, like I, were taught that little children did not sneak up behind him to cover his eyes. He would never intentionally harm anyone, but he had certain learned reactions as a result of his wartime service so ingrained in his nature, that it was possible that his initial reaction to someone sneaking up on him would be to swing at a sudden touch or that a sudden noise would result in a totally defensive stance. The only public place my father would have a drink was a Legion on Remembrance Day – because everyone there shared similar memories and knew the same rules. They knew that you never pushed a disagreement to a physical level, as the results would be dreadful.

    The families of many Veterans learned to live with interrupted sleep as the sounds of nightmares echoed through the house as the Veteran relived horrific events that most of us couldn’t begin to imagine. In my work when I was at Veterans Affairs, I learned that many of our young peacekeepers have brought home with them exactly the same response mechanisms and horrific dreams. Those who survive carry scars – those seen and unseen."

    Here is a link to Veterans Affairs Canada's PTSD information. http://www.vac-acc.gc.ca/clients/sub.cfm?source=mhealth/ste_annes_clinic#01
     
  3. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Member

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    "My grandfather didn't really talk about his time in the War, only until close to his death did he mention some. I wondered how he might have suffered the same, but no one back then knew what it was."

    It was a different time, Bell. I've known a few vets, and many of them don't like to talk about it for whatever reason. Our vets on this site have generously shared their stories...Perhaps they can help us understand why so many others did not feel comfortable relating their personal history.
     
  4. Molucky

    Molucky Member

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    I don't know any vets. My Great Granda fought in WW1, but i only ever got to meet him once, but i was to young to know anything about it.

    I dunno how they done it back in WW2, i mean, even hearing these stories on the news am sure brings back memories for the vets, full respect to everyone who goes through war.
     
  5. Bell

    Bell Member

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    I would think that they don't talk about it because it brings back many emotions that the vets have trouble dealing with. So it is easier to just bottle them up. This brings it back to PTSD and why so many vets do things that they wouldn't normally do. It gets bottled up so much that they feel they can't deal with it. Coupled with this, and I'm not a psychiatrist, is a stereotype that men don't show emotions except anger. It's not "manly" to cry because it's considered a weakness, as is all those other fluffy emotions.

    I wondered then how this behavior might have been passed down through the generations. There is an almost disconnected emotion soldiers feel and act when they come back which can make them seem almost cold or stoic to their children. The children try to cope, but there's something lost there. They take this and pass it on to their children.
     
  6. Mats

    Mats Member

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    Let me tell you how I felt when I had "walked into the wall" as we say in Sweden. This was 6 years ago and I became very depressed. I was not interested in meeting people and I didn't want to have any contact with my employer (I had worked in that company for over 30 years). One or two of my old collegues I could call sometime, but not very often. I just wanted to forget all of my life in business! My job had been interesting with a lot of responsibility and very well paid. That did not help!

    I could (and wanted to) sleep for MANY hours! I could fully understand that there are people who wants to commit suicide. Had I not had a nice wife and most of all a nice son, I might had done it myself!

    Then I found a new interest - WW2. I started to read very many books about it and went down to Normandie at least once a year. Since then, WW2 takes a lot of my time. This has helped me very much to recover!

    I really cannot compare my situation with those who got their Post Traumatic Stress during, or after the war. They had seen extremely sad things like friends getting killed or crippled, people starving etc. etc. There situation must have been much worse than what I experienced.

    It would be interesting if any medical could explain more about the situation for the soldiers!

    Have a good evening!

    Mats
     
  7. LYNX

    LYNX Member

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    Gentlemen
    Here is a topic I can relate to and my hat is off to any vet that may have this problem. First a little history; I had worked in construction for over 10 years and had many close to death experiences, ie. 2 electrocutions, and other accidents that ended me up in a hospital numerous times. I have also survived 2 head on car accidents(neither my fault) without hardly a scratch, though one lady who ran into me, God rest her soul did not make it. Then about 6 years ago the icing on the cake...I had a 500lbs+ trust drop off a crane on to my head. I walked away with alot of stitching to the scalp without freezing. What i did not know until a year later I was suffering from PTS.
    I have had over a year of therapy with a psychiatrist and others in the this medical field. It has given me alot of coping skills to say the lease. If one has had or expecienced near death situations in their life and war has the ability to put people in these situations. That person can develope this PTS Disroder, this does not mean you would have to suffer with it for the rest of your life or that there is one cure for all, it means there is hope.
    I see some of the questions peopel have of war vets are;
    1) Why don't you talk about the experiences you had during the war?
    well as with my experiences with death, if I talk about them I can picture them as clear as if I was there again....I understand why vets don't talk ...who wants to go there again. Though finding someone to talk with is one of the best therapies they could have, as they say"baby steps".
    2) Why don't you cry? or you cry to much.
    This is because the emotional side of the individual does not have the balance people without PTS have. I use to hardly ever cry, now I can be over feeling to movies etc that in the past never bothered me. So if we don't expose ourselves to this we can still look calm and balanced.
    3) You have become reclusive...again another thing that I still struggle with.... inside at times subconsciously we don't want others to know we have issues...so we advoid the public, and friends.
    5) Suicide been there and thought about it but it was fleating, though at the time I thought I was losing it. All I can say is talk to your doctor and or your Minister/pastor/priest... As one looks around you see family and friends...don't be selfish. I was to stubburn to do such a thing life is to great to loose.
    6) Ever look in a mirror and your not looking at that person but someone else? This also is one of the clues...I think they call it disemnbodiment it last for a few secord to years depending on the person.

    All I can say there is life with PTS and after if your totally cured. I salute those that have and are living with this after a war experience, keep trying, don't give up. Lean on family and friends andespecially God.

    Thank you for listening
    Lynx
     
  8. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Thank you Mats and Lynx for sharing your own experiences to give a personal perspective to similarities that might have been experienced by Veterans. It was very courageous and I wish you both well.

    In the work I am in now, Corrections, PTSD is also a very real illness/injury and in the area I work in they are collecting more information. I refer them often to the experiences of combat Veterans and the work the military is doing to assist them.

    I wish there had been more known about PTSD after World War II.
     
  9. bigfun

    bigfun Ace

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    Well said Jack.

    I know of one WWII veteran who still has issues with his experiences. I was even told by his friend not to ask about his life during the war. And I respected that. I was told, after having a fun morning of listening to this gentleman talk of his kids and grandkids, that he watched his best friend die in a foxhole they shared. He was never the same after that, his veteran friend told me.
     
  10. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    Interesting. My experience in the military has been supporting the American policies in Central America in El Salvador/Honduras/Panama. I have been in a firefight and treated the wounded (it's not like in the movies) but have not had any mental reprecussions from this. I have had flashbacks (surprisingly) on two events of which I was a witness/participant. Can't go into too many details but it involved death, atrocities and gruesome affects from a nuclear accident. I know I don't have PTSD but watching two films brought back these memories in vivid detail. It left me numb. I was 'zoned' out. Since then, if I think about it, I can recall those memories.

    So I can see how those vets who have experienced things that they do not wish to recall, choose not to talk about the war or their experiences. Those horrid memories are easy to bring up but difficult to get rid of.

    I feel for those soldiers who grew up under the glorification of war by Hollywood and went off to Iraq/Afghanistan only to come back with a whole different perspective at an awful price. It almost feels like a little bit of your soul is torn out and the pain never goes away. At least, that is how I can explain it.
     
  11. Bell

    Bell Member

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    Makes you wonder how the Roman soldiers dealt with it. Might be why many adhered to Stoicism as a practice.


    I thought about this too. Many times I hear, on the news, soldiers saying they didn't think it would be like that. It's unfortunate what Hollywood is doing.
     
  12. wilconqr

    wilconqr Dishonorably Discharged

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  13. vkyval

    vkyval Member

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    I sent for my dad's V.A. Medical records a few years ago. A wealth of information there. He got polio in 1949, that left him with a slight limp. He visited a psychiatrist over the years before he died in 1976 age 52. He had liver problems from drinking, emphysema from smoking, complained all his life of feeling cold and clammy, fear of heights and anxiety. All of this got worse with age. I knew about the polio and alcoholism, but did not know the rest. I knew he was adopted by his aunt and uncle, born out of wedlock. His mother let her brother raise him. He got a letter from his mother saying she was his biological mother while he was in service, age 20. This must have been a shock to hear. When watching T.V. he would blurt out things like, I wonder what ever happened to so and so and then he'd say the person's name, and many other things about his time overseas. Just out of the blue. He loved to cook, had a great sense of humor, liked to tell jokes, and everyone who met him loved him, including all of us. He was strict with us about manners and taught us kindness towards others. I think he was too kind in this mean world of ours. He worked as a barber all his life in budget shops and often gave haircuts for free. We grew up poor but rich with love.
     

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  14. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

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    Lovely sentiments! Sounds like he and my Dad would have got along fine!
     

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