On May 31, 2011, there were over 1,400,000 men and women enlisted in the United States Armed Services (U.S. Department of Defense). Over a million brave soldiers who left their homes behind in order to secure the American way of life. Every day, this number rises. Although some of these soldiers will return home and appear to be unscathed, “in war, there are no unwounded soldiers” (Narosky). Dehumanization, depression, terror, alienation, exhaustion, loss of faith, and feelings of betrayal (among a horde of other problems) plague veterans every day of their service and every day after they come home. The trauma of war creates such a deep psychological scar that no service member can truly be called “unwounded”- a fact that civilization can neither deny nor avoid.
According to Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a combination of decreasing inner strength, physical exhaustion, horror, hate, aggression, fear, and the burden of having to kill other men results in the creation of a “psychiatric casualty”. Having to go through a warzone, where everyday occurrences like crossing the street can become a life or death situation, places soldiers under abundant stress until they crack and veterans have frequently admitted to feeling “disheartened”, “demoralized”, “worn down/out”, “dispirited”, and “anxious” after war. Before PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) came to be recognized as a disease, soldiers were labeled as insane when the shock of war became too much. If the trauma was bad enough, the soldier was discharged. In extreme cases, they were sent to institutions. There are even several cases of soldiers who, having been removed from combat but not re-accustomed to civilian life, resorted to self-mutilation because it was the only way they knew how to deal with the nightmares, stress, and depression that haunted them (Thompson).
Another ordeal that soldiers go through is military sexual trauma (MST). MST, by definition, is “psychological trauma…[which] resulted from a physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training”. MST happens to both men and woman, in civilian and military settings. So, on top of the strain of war, veterans are also dealing with sexual assault. Survivors may have everything from extreme emotions to trouble sleeping, chronic pain, stomach and bowel complications, relationship issues, and problems with alcohol and drug use (Military Sexual Trauma).
Thankfully, more and more veterans are seeking the help they need. Veterans Affairs (VA) data shows “from 2002 to 2009, one million troops left active duty in Iraq or Afghanistan and became eligible for VA care. Of those troops, 46% came in for VA services. Of those veterans who used VA care, 48% were diagnosed with a mental health problem” (Mental Health Effects of Serving in Afghanistan and Iraq). 460,000 soldiers reached out for help and 220,800 were diagnosed with...