Post Traumatic Stress

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by Trincomalee, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Hot air manufacturer

    Specifically I believe that PTS is in some cases used as an excuse to avoid further involvement in stress situations.

    This reminds of a film I saw once:

    Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: Of course he is. He has to be crazy to keep flying after all his close calls he's had.
    Yossarian: Why can't you ground him?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: I can, but first he has to ask me.
    Yossarian: That's all he's gotta do to be grounded?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: That's all.
    Yossarian: Then you can ground him?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: No. Then I cannot ground him.
    Yossarian: Aah!
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: There's a CATCH.
    Yossarian: A catch?
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: Sure. Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him.
    Yossarian: Ok, let me see if I've got this straight. In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying.
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: You got it, that's Catch-22.
    Yossarian: Whoo... That's some catch, that Catch-22.
    Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka: It's the best there is.
  2. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    You are swimming against the tide. Todays society is the 'softest' I can ever recall. Compensation is the norm and sympathy by the bucketload has to be given or you are some sort of unfeeling monster. I suspect that it is only the respect that posters on this forum have for you that you ar not insulted quite badly. Had I said what you have, and I agree with every word, I suspect the wrath of God would have descended upon me. I think a great many more people agree with you than you possibly believe. I will now take to my bunker and await the cessation of hostilities.

    I feel disheartened by such unenlightened attitudes.

  3. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    Understanding the context of modern warfare is part of understanding how it affects service-personnel.

    Modern conflicts- Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan – are not conducted with defined front lines with a grateful populace greeting the liberators. These conflicts are conducted in areas where the soldier is battling a largely unidentifiable foe, which uses guerrilla type tactics and then disappears back into the general populace.

    There are no front lines with the soldier embedded within the country. Who is the enemy and who is the oppressed civilian?

    IED’s and booby-traps are the commonplace and no follow up action is initiated by the enemy. Inflicting casualties is the purpose.

    The soldiers live, patrol, carry out re-building efforts and “hearts and minds” missions and are casualties within the operational area and their operational bases.

    Australian operations in Vietnam required soldiers to conduct continued patrol activities and operations and return to base for 2 or 3 days and then back out in the field during their 1 year tour. The bases were also under mortar attack or the subject of offensive action. This is being repeated in Afghanistan.
  4. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Here we have a different views...If this site is looking for "Yes Men" then they had better have another look. But remember this...It is the Veterans on this site that have seen and experienced war, and then great fear that goes with it.

    Not the skirmishes of recent times, but full scale war..... And against a fanatical enemy..... There is no comparison...At the Chateau de la londe we lost 600 in the morning/ I know that our men are still killed and wounded...Bless them! I support them in everything they do...... when it comes to the cause of PTS..Then surely the battles around the world would be expected to bring about more cases of PTS?
  5. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    my father used to recall the artillery barrages in North Africa - the fear, excitement, the noise, the ground shaking as if the earth was about to open up and swallow the nation whole.

    same with his experiences in 2 of the battles for Cassino, and the POW camps he was in.

    Warfare today is as fierce now as it was then (Im a veteran of the Balkans, NI and Iraq - soon to go to Afghan) and YES the playstation generation of today is softer than my generation and no doubt we were softer than the previous. we have to be a killing force one day, and a police force the next - we have to walk amongst our enemies; knowing exactly who they are but are powerless to act until they act first. Fanatical enemy but in a different way to a regimented force

    the death toll in Afghan has amounted to 1229 US , 331 UK and 444 Coalition dead over the past 9 years

    New Zealand1
    South Korea1

    this probably equates to a days losses during WW2, and an hours losses in WW1

    conflict today is lighter, more mobile and reliant upon technology - but the bursts of conflict as as equally violent as during any conflict

    todays troops are on their feet, fighting hand to hand in places

    this difference between WW2, Korea, Vietnam and modern warfare is as different as each of us - singularly unique individual human beings and we all react to the stresses and strains of service life in very different ways. some are fortunate, others less so

    the tears of my father as he recalled the death of a friends in conflict whilst serving with the 8th army are as equally bitter to those cried by one of many of my friends who cheated death and survived the falklands, NI, Gulf 1 or 2 or Afghanistan and all stops inbetween.
    His nightsweats and night terrors were just as realistic and vivid of my comrades

    for the true sufferers of PTSD - it is very real, hence one of my former colleagues (an RSM) recently walked off the top of a car park, the torment had overwhelmed him and this was his escape

    for the frauds who hide behind the label - I class them with the walter mitteys of this world

    I am not a Yes man - i am a humanist who has been to the worst places that my generation could visit. The landscape may differ from yours but the souveniers that we return with are remarkably similar

    May your God bless you Sapper, you are truely fortunate
    Slipdigit, von Poop and dbf like this.
  6. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Capt Bill
    Thank you for that post.
    My sympathies to you on the death of your colleague and my thanks for the work you have done.

    The frauds do an injustice to the real sufferers, but their actions should not detract from the real pain that others went through and continue to experience.

    Capt Bill likes this.
  7. Formerjughead

    Formerjughead Senior Member

    Sorry If I didn't make myself clear, I was simply agreeing with Sapper. Specifically I believe that PTS is in some cases used as an excuse to avoid further involvement in stress situations. I believe it is also used to attempt to extract compensation. I further believe that those who seek to gain from a false PTS claim are harming the case of those who are real sufferers. I also believe that the society of today is too willing to provide a shoulder to cry on and this exacerbates the problem of people willing to make false claims of PTS. lots of 'believes' there but I have tried to be precise.

    There is no doubt that the "Stress" card gets played and compensated entirely too "willy nilly". You need to remember that the "Hostile Environment" of today's work place does not compare to the subject at hand, granted the world that Police and Firefighters live in is different than a corporate office. IF you are obligated by duty to expose yourself to the threat of death or dismemberment your stress level has a higher threshold than the person who is risking missing lunch because they failed to get the company newsletter out by Friday.

    .....Again, without wishing to offend anyone. I sometimes wonder how some of our contributors would fare, having to build a light assault bridge under heavy withering fire..... Or to lead off an assault with the happy knowledge you are first.... the enemy is waiting.....So if anyone is in any doubt, let me say this. That sort of determination needs to be pretty strong...So why be surprised if you come across the same determination from the same men. NOW?

    Sapper, with all due respect you are way off base. I will applaud your generation for what it accomplished and had to endure both before and during the war; but, I will take exception to what you said.

    Your generation was uniquely equipped to deal with the hardships you experienced, especially those who lived and grew up in England, you had a front row seat for not only one, but two world wars.

    To say that me and others of "My" generation are "lacking determination" is very offensive. Unlike your generation, mine does not have the the peer group, of shared experience, that your generation was afforded. When you returned, from the war, I bet it was hard to swing a dead cat without hitting someone who knew exactly what you had been through. On the other hand most of my generation experienced my conflicts only through the grace of CNN and other media outlets. To say that my generation and the one before me (Vietnam) feels a little disenfranchised is an understatement.

    IN August 1987 when when we carried the bodies of an F-14 crew and my squad leader across the North African desert we had no idea what the outcome would be. In December 1989 we didn't think that we would be in Panama for less than a month and on 23 Feb 1991 we had no idea that the war was only going to last 4 days. I didn't know it, none of the guys I was with knew it and I am pretty damn positive that my wife and unborn son didn't know it. All we knew is that there was a very good chance we could come home in a flag draped metal box. I certainly didn't think that on 23 October 1993 that I would see one of my friends get stabbed during a cell extraction because the Nuestra Familia weren't happy with the refried beans they were served any more than the 34 knuckle heads in the 17 other cells we extracted that night thought they were going to get the piss kicked out of them. On 3 May 1994 I didn't think that I was going to get my jaw dislocated by a Grape Street Crip when I delivered him a package to his cell. 28 August 1994 I really didn't think that when I went to work that day I would be cleaning my best fiends blood off my boots or have someone try to run a 14 inch piece of cyclone fencing into my thigh either . When I answered my phone and ended up packing my bags to report for duty on 11 September 2001 I had absolutely no idea that I would spend the next year training young men to go into harm's way.

    That being said; if you could please refrain from making statements inferring that I and others of my generation are lacking determination that would be just peachy.

    It is honestly the opinion of the majority of the local Normandy Veterans, that PTS is overdone....I do not think anyone should be surprised by that...After all some folk use anything for gain.That PTS exists, there is no doubt, and I extend my best wishes to those that suffer...But some of the causes put forward in the press were downright daft.

    The "Hire a cripple" is real and not a figment of a fevered imagination

    I agree 100% and all it does is detract from those that truly suffer from PTSD, there is a difference between PTS and PTSD. If PTS is recognized and addressed it prevents it from becoming a disorder.

    If this post offends anyone I truly appologize as that was not my intent.
    A-58, Slipdigit, Gerard and 2 others like this.
  8. spider

    spider Very Senior Member

    If this post offends anyone I truly appologize as that was not my intent.

    You certainly didn't offend me. An UNDERSTANDING of these issues helps you to appreciate the condition.

  9. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    You are right, I should not have used the words about determination. It is not true and I will own up to not having "my brain in gear" when writing that passage ...
    Apologies Sincerely..
  10. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    So I return to PTS. I can understand being struck down by this dreadful event, if you had been in continuous action under the most awful conditions, with men being killed and horribly wounded around you, for months on end. I can understand men going "Bomb happy" afetr taking part in some violent and horrific close quarters action.
    But I must be honest. I fail to see that one or two iinstances of violence can bring on PTS.... I just cannot see it.
    Again, Sorry if I upset anyone. Its is not meant to do that,,, Just my honest view of what causes PTS. That view is backed up by having a great mate suffer battle Exhaustion. I know what that does, and PTS is not in the same league, or anywhere near it. Cheers.
  11. Fireman

    Fireman Discharged

    Obviously an extremely emotive subject with a wide range of opinions. No one I'm sure believes that PST doesn't exist. The argument seems to range about the numbers suffering from it. Sapper would agree I'm sure that personnel involved in his war suffered form PST or whatever it was called then.

    Society and welfare are taken advantage of by some and it is this that fires up the argument. I can understand that men and women who have fought in wars and come through it relatively unscathed are incensed at the apparent ease that some people are compensated. I too feel that compensation in many forms is all too easily given by a society that is afraid to be criticised in any way for being harsh or unsympathetic. How the frauds are found I have no idea. The argument will no doubt continue.
  12. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I think some people here are missing the point of PTSD and generalising it too much.


    Post = A prefix, meaning “behind,” “after,” “later,” “subsequent to,” “posterior to,”

    Traumatic = Psychologically painful.

    Stress = Physiology: A specific response by the body to a stimulus, as fear or pain, that disturbs or interferes with the normal physiological equilibrium of an organism. Physical: Mental, or emotional strain or tension: Worry over his job and his wife's health put him under a great stress.

    Disorder = A disturbance in physical or mental health or functions; malady or dysfunction.

    I suspect if you pause for thought for a moment and take onboard the above you will be able to relate to some if not all of the above in either an occurance you was involved or someone very close to you. To say that it is only linked to the military is wrong however their experiences are far more likely to be at the upper end of the scale.

    As I looked up the definition of each word in the dictionary two non military events sprang immediately to mind from when I was a copper. One was a women who was violently raped and being the first officer on the scene she looked as though she had just given up on life. Infact I thought she was dead at first. The second was a women walking her grand daughter through a park who witnessed a man beating his ex partner with a baseball bat, when she challenged him to leave her alone he threatened to kill her and she went and hide in some bushes fearing for her own and her grand daughters life. She watched helpless with a Police controller on the end of her mobile phone as he beat her about the head with a bat and then took a kitchen knife to her cutting off her fingers as she used her hands to try and protect herself, he eventually slashed her throat open and when we arrived due to it being a cold day steam was coming out of her neck from her body heat.

    Now tell me those two ladies didn't suffer from PTSD later on, one a victim the other a witness. Both from my short period of involvement with them as far as I am concerned will struggle to live with what endured for a long time if not the rest of their lives. No doubt with great difficulty.

    It's not unique to the military and anyone can suffer from it in varying degrees and from a wide variety of circumstances.
  13. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    Taken from my Oxford Medical Dictionary:

    An anxiety disorder caused by the major personal stress of a serious or frightening event, such as an injury, assault, rape, or exposure to warfare or a disaster involving many casualties. The onset is at least one month after the traumatic event. The sufferer experiences the persistent recurrance of images or memories of the event, together with nightmares, insomnia, a sense of isolation, guilt, irritability, and loss of concentration. Emotions maybe deadened or depression may develop. The condition usually settles with time, but support and skilled councelling may be needed. More severe cases may be treated by cognitive behavioural therapy and/or SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor).
  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Interesting Fireman.
    Let me put it this way.... In action we never experienced PTS. That had at that time not appeared on the scene. It did not exxist....What we did get, was genuine battle exhaustion. And there is no mistaking, when a men is struck down by that terrible wound.

    For going bomb happy had a really shocking effect, that the men that suffered knew bloody well that he had succumbed under fire... And no one wants that. The stigma is mind boggling...... So, battle exhaustion is a different thing all together.

    When that strikes, the victim has a complete change in his character it seems to me. Just like a stroke victim. And it has to be said, that some BE cases exhibit the most bizarre behaviour..from sitting down crying helplessly, to shaking, to running around like a mad man.... BE is in my mind, the very worst wound that any man could possible suffer. My best friend suffered, and he was a changed man, Yet he has seen some of the very worst of the fighting...That was to catch up with him at some time or other.

    Nothing can remove your knowledge and the terrible stigma... that under fire you succumbed....And that you would have to live with for the rest of your life. Think about that! .....IF YOU DARE!
  15. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    Nothing can remove your knowledge and the terrible stigma... that under fire you succumbed....And that you would have to live with for the rest of your life. Think about that! .....IF YOU DARE!

    And that you would have to live with for the rest of your life
    = PTSD, so Sapper you have countered your own argument

    pay this website a visit The Veterans' Mental Health Charity - Combat Stress
  16. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    PTS is a pale imitation of real battle exhaustion. And rather like the "Slipped Disc" syndrome, only appeared in the latter half of the century. A slipped disc or PTS was not known in my younger days It was not heard of because then it did not exist.

    Seriously....These are relatively modern maladies...Surely? We lived quite well when we did not have them. Or better description...! When they were undiscovered
  17. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a complex and debilitating condition that can affect every aspect of a person's life.
    It is a psychological response to the experience of an event (or events) of an intensely traumatic nature. These type of events often involve a risk to life – one's own or that of one's colleagues. It is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or culture.

    PTSD has been known to exist since ancient times, albeit under the guise of different names.
    During the First World War it was referred to as "shell shock"; as "war neurosis" during WWII; and as "combat stress reaction" during the Vietnam War. In the 1980s the term Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was introduced – the term we still use today.

    Although PTSD was first brought to public attention by War Veterans, it can result from any number of traumatic incidents. The common denominator is exposure to a threatening event that has provoked intense fear, horror or a sense of helplessness in the individual concerned.
    The sort of traumatic events that might be experienced by members of the general public include physical assault, rape, accidents or witnessing the death or injury of others – as well as natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and fires.

    In the case of Serving personnel, traumatic events mostly relate to the direct experience of combat, to operating in a dangerous war-zone, or to taking part in difficult and distressing peace-keeping operations.
  18. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

  19. Capt Bill

    Capt Bill wanderin off at a tangent

    PTS is a pale imitation of real battle exhaustion. I disagree - two different conditions

    And rather like the "Slipped Disc" syndrome, only appeared in the latter half of the century. Nope - it has been around for centuries
    A slipped disc or PTS was not known in my younger days It was not heard of because then it did not exist. Discs have been part of human anatomy since day one, week one of our existance on this planet.

    Just because it wasn't heard of doesn't mean that it didnt exist.

    When was the first confirmed case of HIV ? 1932 and not 1981!

    Seriously....These are relatively modern maladies...Nope - it has been around for centuries
    Surely? We lived quite well when we did not have them. Or better description...! When they were undiscovered Again - no, many diseases and conditions have been with us since time immemorial. Just because the did not have a name does not equate to the fact that they did not exist

    now you are just fooling yourself
    Drew5233 likes this.
  20. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Old Hickory Recon

    Inflation as it is, here is my 3 cents worth:

    We all experience some form of traumtic stress at some time or another. How we deal with it determines whether or not it becomes a syndrome.

    I may have mentioned to you that people own guns in the Southern US. Several times, I have entered a burning home while hearing weapons discharging inside, due to the fire. Don't think that doesn't give me pause the next time I bail off of the truck at another incident, beckoned by a fire and smoke flowing out of a building. It is a minor degree of stress added to the other firefighting stresses when we only hear the discharges. It will be a major one if someone ever gets hit by an errant bullet.

    I can quit firefighting anytime I want to, I am a volunteer. But soldiers can't, until they hit their own breaking point and can no longer function. Outside the military world PST and PSTD does exist, just not to the same degree. Combat soldiers undergo extreme circumstances day after day, oftentimes without a foreseable pause in the terror, outside their own death or bodily harm. Non-military people can recognize their problems and are in a position to do something about it, such as taking a few day away, quiting altogether or talking to someone else who can help.

    Everyone has a breaking point. It is only a matter how long it is. For some, it is a few hours, while others may take years.

    My personal opinion: I think the greatest disservice done to combat soldiers was to tell them not to talk about their experiences with others.

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