“Some 500,000 of the 3 million troops who served in Vietnam suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and rates of divorce, suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction were markedly higher among veterans.” -Veteran’s Administration
This is a clip from the movie “Born on the Fourth of July” (1982). The movie is about a Vietnam veteran who comes back from the war paralyzed and feels betrayed by his country. This clip is a good example of an outburst due to PTSD.
Vietnam Veteran Gerald Polman discusses his experience with PTSD 40 years after the war. The primary emotions Mr. Polman expresses are of guilt and fear.
Transitioning from a combat zone to a civilian life is extremely difficult. The increase of technology and improvements in transportation methods made it easier and faster for a fallen soldier to be air lifted from the battlefield to a hospital then to home. This made the Vietnam war different from other wars because it forced the soldier to adapt to civilian life from combat in a very short amount of time. Jesse’s story depicts how his injuries forced him to change his lifestyle very rapidly. He also has examples of common problems of PTSD such as relationship issues with his divorce. Jesse relates his fathers drinking problems with his military experience which is also a common problem among PTSD victims. He was compacted with stress by the loss of his mother and a divorce occurring all at one time.
The military has a common trait of not showing weakness through emotions or feelings. If someone is feeling down or sad and in need of help then they are viewed as weak. This is a big issue among men in the general sense and military men specifically. This may also be a contributing factor to men and women in the armed forces who do not seek help for their symptoms and deny any correlation to PTSD.
The stresses of combat in addition to holding in feelings may influence an individual with PTSD to self medicate to solve their problems. Many veterans turn to self medication in the form of drugs and alcohol. It does not help that when these battered soldiers returned home from serving their country the American community did not support them and called them names. It only makes things worse when their own countrymen do not accept them. A lack of support can also lead individuals to feel depressed giving them more incentive to self medicate and experience PTSD symptoms. 60-80% of Vietnam veterans have alcohol-use disorders according to the National Center for PTSD. This reason for self medication is why we see addiction accouring with PTSD.
Vietnam War — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts. (n.d.).History.com — History Made Every Day — American & World History. Retrieved November 20, 2011, from http://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war
Substance Abuse. Vietnam Veterans of America. Retrieved November 24, 2011, from www.vva.org/veteran/1006/ptsd_report.h