Monday, March 22, 2010

Our Vietnam

Growing up in the seventies, it was hard not to be aware of the Vietnam generation that had come home from an unpopular war a few years before.  The Vietnam war and its veterans, who didn't get the support they needed, provided an undercurrent of psychological horror that slowly trickled into the country's conscious thought in the late seventies, finally being discussed openly and with a greater understanding in the eighties and nineties.

Lately I've been thinking how we're entering into another such era with the return of Iraq and Afghanistan war vets.  To our credit, I think we're much better prepared for the psychological damage suffered by many returning vets and have provided a much greater amount of support before, during and after deployment.  At least, I hope we have.

Recently CNN ran an article from a returning vet, Mike Scotti, and he looked directly at this issue.
As the Iraq war winds down and those troops return home, and as other soldiers and Marines cycle in and out of Afghanistan, a new generation of Americans --vets' family members, friends and co-workers, a population basically untouched, unbothered by the fact of a faraway war -- will have to develop a fresh mindfulness of what these hundreds of thousands of men and women have been through and may be struggling with when they return.
There is a new generation of combat and, as I discovered through personal experience, we all must be conscious of what, exactly, this means.
This sense of isolation, if not dealt with, can quickly lead to problems with loved ones, with colleagues or worse; self-destructive behaviors feed upon themselves, pulling the vet down the wrong path. The isolation can also manifest itself in feelings of anger or resentment.

Mike not only looks at the issue with a clear vision, but he has some idea of what we can do to help.  Check it out.

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