Today is PTSD Awareness Day. It is a day to remember and acknowledge the emotional wounds suffered by our military men and women after their service in the war has physically ended. Emotionally, the war still rages in their minds. Victims of post traumatic stress need encouragement, support and counseling. But ignoring these unseen wounds can only make them worse.
Years ago, the emotional distress of soldiers long after the battles had ended—the nightmares, the anxiety, the depression—were not discussed.
Most relatives of WWII veterans describe their post war loved ones as soldiers who would never speak about the war. One can only imagine the internal horrors plaguing their minds—the battle scenes they wanted to protect their families from knowing about. They suffered in terrible silence under the label of “Battle Fatigue.”
In wars prior to WWII, soldiers still suffered. Those in the Civil War carried the label of “Soldier’s Heart.” In the Revolutionary War, surviving warriors had to suffer their own nightmares of bloody battles long after the swords were turned into plows.
My protagonist, Nathaniel Stearns, in The Promise of Deer Run is a veteran of the American Revolution suffering from post traumatic stress. In doing my research for this character, I interviewed veterans from recent wars who suffered from this terrible aftereffect. I gently asked them about some of the details of their suffering in order to add realism to this fictional character. I interviewed two Army chaplains who shared stories of the emotional wounds of warriors who they had counseled. It was sobering research that still touches my heart.
In honor of all the soldiers who have suffered from this disorder, I am giving away three copies of The Promise of Deer Run to three readers who comment on this blog. Please leave me your email address so I can contact the winners.
The Promise of Deer Run won Best Romance at the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival, and also was a finalist in Religious Fiction at the 2012 ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year contest.
For further information on PTSD, you can read more here.
And thank you to all who have served in our military. I salute you.
Thank you for the research and for writing on this delicate topic. The acknowledgement of PTSD as “nothing new under the sun” is important for all to understand. I believe the soldiers of the Civil War had greater cause of anguish because many fought against their own bloodline – brothers against brothers, cousins against cousins, uncles against nephews. Again, thank you for stepping out and tackling the subject.
Thank you so much for your comment. And yes, PTSD is indeed “nothing new under the sun.” Many don’t realize that the American Revolution was actually a Civil War as well, with brother against brother, cousin against cousin. Loyalties were divided within households, making the war devastating to all in a very personal and painful way. Thanks for coming by. If you would like to be in the drawing, please send your email address. Thanks! 🙂
Heidi Morrell says
I have always wondered about PTSD in the American Revolution. I know for certain veterans must have had it.Like, how much in the sick records during the war, for example, was because of battle fatigue?
My book is about American POW’s during that war. In my second book in the series, my one character will have PTSD from his time as a prisoner of the British.
And those are just a few who might have had PTSD, but their suffering was never known.
God Bless those who fought in our Revolution and won our freedom.They truly were the first greatest generation.
I agree, Amber. I’d love to have the names of your books! Thanks for coming by.
Janet Grunst says
Thanks Elaine for a great post on a subject near and dear to my heart. Having experienced the heart-ache of living with someone with PTSD (though we didn’t know abut it at the time)I appreciate the great price survivors of war and their families pay possibly for the rest of their lives.
My heart aches when I hear of stories like yours, Janet. PTSD has been the war that never ends for our veterans. It is time that help be offered and the stigma torn away. I am so sorry for the pain you endured. ((HUGS))
Debra L. Butterfield says
Elaine, thank you for addressing this issue with such care and concern. My dad didn’t speak much about his war experiences until he was in his 70’s. I witnessed my ex-husband’s struggles firsthand, though he was never diagnosed with PTSD that I know of. I have a lot of Marine friends who talk war stories, but rarely are those stories about the horrific aspects of war that they experienced. Mental health issues have carried a stigma for far too long, and I hope that stories like yours can help people see the reality and gain compassion for those who suffer.
Absolutely, Debra, and I’m so sorry for the pain that you endured as well. PTSD affects entire families and has many victims in the wake of the emotional turmoil. Thank you for sharing your personal story and I pray for veterans and their families to reach out for the help that they need—they should not have to suffer in silence. Blessings!
Heidi Morrell says
Both of my grandfathers served in WWII. Both now reside in Heaven, and so I can no longer ask them any ?’s about their years of service for our country.
However, I do remember that in the case of my paternal grandfather, all he ever shared with anyone, including family, was that he was an engineer, and helped build the atomic bombs. He was never allowed to share exactly what part he played to accomplish that significant weapon that ultimately helped to end the war.
As for my maternal grandfather, he worked on the radar on Pearl Harbor. He only spoke of a few of his experiences one time, and that was to my husband, shortly after we were married. My grandma, mom, and a few other relatives were in the same room when he shared. We later wished that we could have recorded what he told my husband, but the “talk” was brief, and I believe he opened up to my husband because he’s always been a “history buff”. My husband, Dean, has an uncanny ability to retain what he’s learned–either by reading, or watching a documentary. Dean was genuinely interested and already knowledgeable in our American wars; that could be another reason why my grandfather shared what he did. One thing that I remember is that he shared that he almost stepped on a bomb, but the Lord protected him. I don’t remember anymore. When I get a chance, I’ll ask Dean what else he remembers. Future generations would benefit from knowing what their great grandfathers experienced in the war.
PTSD was not defined during my grandfather’s lifetime. If it was, they may or may not have been willing to share more. I cannot speak from my own experience, but the fact that my grandfathers were so reluctant to share, leads me to believe that they carried many traumatic memories to their graves. These quiet men most likely became the introverts I always knew them to be because they were not willing to “relive the past” with anyone.
However, I do personally believe that future generations NEED to be taught what war really is like–and WHY they are fought in the first place! Who better to teach them than those who have “been there”. Yet, the “nightmares” prevent them from even sharing the “patriotic” parts of war. I have no idea what can be done to help these dear, brave soldiers, but someone must. If not, I believe future generations may refrain from wanting to fight for ours and their freedoms because they lack the needed knowledge and history that has been formed before they were born, and they don’t understand the importance of why and when wars must be fought.
Thanks, Elaine, for the opportunity to share. Heidi, from Des Moines
Thank YOU for sharing, Heidi.Your grandfathers were heroes. 🙂