Detonating the Bomb: The Relationship of PTSD In Vietnam and Iraq Veterans
A soldier returns home from deployment and attempts to go back to civilian living after spending months defusing IEDs. He experiences reoccurring flashbacks about the war. His mind rewinds the moment where one of his good comrades’ died. He develops insomnia because the nightmares have become unbearable and alienates himself from his family. The memories and obsessive thoughts becomes too great. It is like he has never left war. It dawns to him that this is the one IED he may not be able to defuse—himself.
In the course of military history, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and war often go hand in hand. Having said that, the symptoms of PTSD were not always listed under that name. The first reoccurrences of PTSD were in the Civil War and was named under “soldier’s heart” or even “insanity” because the symptoms, at the time, were unfamiliar. In World War I and World War II, the symptoms of PTSD were listed under “shellshock” and “combat fatigue” after little research concluded that the symptoms were combat related (“PTSD: Not A New Ailment”). The symptoms of PTSD are generally clustered into categories: re-experiencing of trauma, dysphoria, anhedonia, and avoidance (Bulkeley, “Mental Ills Rise”). PTSD is complex because the symptoms oftentimes fall under other disorders including but not limited to : depression and generalized anxiety (Erbes, 187-189). PTSD is a psychological Improvised Explosive Device that takes root in the mind of a veteran and potentially affects all aspects of a veteran’s life. As countless research has been conducted, veterans, particularly, Iraq veterans, have received better treatment than Vietnam veterans and the procedure to treat PTSD in Vietnam veterans can be applied to Iraq veterans because of the relationship the disorder shares among the two groups of veterans.
During the Vietnam War, soldiers suffering from PTSD were misguidedly diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder because PTSD was not considered as a combat-related disablement at the time (Currier and Holland, 102-103). In contrast, Iraq soldiers had to undergo a psychiatric exam before retuning home to make sure they did not develop early symptoms of PTSD. In addition, Iraq Veterans were treated with proper care such as cognitive therapy or, in some cases, prescribed medication. PTSD after Vietnam and Iraq, has also been stigmatized. Although both groups of soldiers have fought in wars, they had radically different experiences. Different tactics of warfare and technology has also shaped how PTSD is triggered and affects the solders’ overall experience. PTSD after Vietnam has also shaped how PTSD is diagnosed for Iraq soldiers because it has now been researched extensively.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, during the time of Vietnam, was stigmatized; therefore soldiers were not treated properly (Currier and Holland, 104). As stated previously, the majority of Vietnam soldiers were...