“Soldiers Heart” was simply what folks back than called the emotional and psychological condition men often suffered from when they returned from the bloody and surreal battlefields of our American Civil War.
No matter what time in history, a persons experiences of battle that often equate to scenes and memories of unimaginable bloodshed, anger and fear are with them for the balance of their lives. We all have met veterans who seem to have “handled it differently” we might say. One man went on and another man is broken from the same experience. Both brave sodiers, just different psyches.
This post combat condition has been chronicled for thousands of years. Veterans in “Third world countries” were often and even today offered the only means available by family to keep them safe and from danger to themselves and others by simply tying them to a tree or post. Often they were constantly drugged. We see this today as so many fall into the vortex of hard drug use and alcoholism .
Some men just kept on fighting as they knew they could not live in the outside world they left. The battlefield with its intensity of noise, emotion and focused clarity became home until death.
When men return from a “combat zone”, the joy and thankfulness from family and loved ones is often cut short as the veteran begins to let down his “happy front”. The sadness and confusion that they might start to exhibit is often just the beginning of a road that will try the best of men, wives, relationships, family, and friends.
Suicide itself is often an all too common final solution seen by the veteran. Helping them in a timely manner is critical.
Today we have all heard of the NEW terminology. “Soldiers Heart” has become PTSD ( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ) and there is assistance that combines genuine caring with some major strides in medicine that have been made in recent years, that help us to understand and begin to heal this condition.
Anger, depression, aloofness, disconnection, emotional outbursts, recurring nightmares, fears such as loud noise or fast movements in everyday settings or environments similar to the combat zones are just some of the general symptoms.
As well additional physical symptoms often occur such as shaking, motor control loss, shouting, inability to make even simple decisions such as feeding oneself or staying clean.
A man who kept a platoon of young soldiers alive in a combat zone with his focus, tactics, organization and attention to details might come home and find he cannot pick a meal off a simple menu.
He may find he cannot look at his children without weeping.
How much stress one soldier can withstand without permanent emotional or psychological damage is typically not measured in depth beforehand. Each person has their individual perception of the battle experience. And each person has their own personal set of God given limitations.
A soldier has varied and often tragic experiences that are not left on the battlefield. These experiences are unable to be understood, accepted, and left behind. Too often they are not communicated and kept within. This leads to increased damage and confusion.
Veterans Organizations are a good place to start. Meeting other veterans and having the chance to discuss or vent to another soldier who has been in a zone, who can understand is always helpful.
Even if the old warriors are generations apart, the sharing of wartime experiences is usually a positive if not informative time well spent. All ages from a “zone” have experienced “Soldiers Heart”.
If you have or know a veteran who might need some guidance and assistance, you can help. After speaking with them about the support available for our returning vets, you may mention to them that “Soldiers Heart” in Troy, N.Y. has their best interest in mind and can help them to meet other veterans, understand their needs, and start on the road to a more satisfying lifestyle once again.
These family and friends we call veterans put it on the line for us. And now it is our turn .. we can help them
Contacting the VA ( Veterans Administration ) in your area is a great start. Or clicking below to get some information about this fine Veterans Organization named ” Soldier’s Heart” is a great stride in the right direction for you…and “your hero” .
“Caring means sharing the burden”
“War and the Soul” : Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by Edward Tick Ph.D
( Dr. Tick is the Co-Founder of “Soldier’s Heart” in Troy, N.Y. with Co-Founder Kate Dahlstedt, MACP
Note: The author writes his view here with the hope of explaining PTSD ( Soldiers Heart ), so maybe just one person might benefit from the page. I have not served in the military. The service that my veteran brothers and sisters have performed in my place, is so deeply appreciated. God bless you.