No Help For Yesterday’s Heroes
Vets returning from the wars of the past didn’t have much in the way of support when they got home. The general public viewed veterans as strong, tough heroes, never considering they might have mental as well as physical scars of war.
Historical records document that even Civil War soldiers suffered from PTSD and suicide. But the field of modern psychiatry didn’t exist yet, and mental illness was taboo, a source of shame. Many service members suffering from “mania” ended up in asylums until they passed away—potentially decades later.
While ideas like “battle trauma” or “gas hysteria” came to be common terms by WWI, it was believed that men who suffered from these conditions were just weak. WWII vets who struggled emotionally were thought to have biological problems, like a weak constitution or childhood disorders manifesting later in life. It wasn’t until Vietnam that the U.S. put some measures in place to ease the psychological impact of war on veterans. Still many service members went without badly needed mental health treatment. Not coincidentally, the rate of veteran incarceration among WWII and Vietnam vets was higher than among civilians.
Helping Today’s Heroes
Yesterday’s veterans are leading the charge for today’s returning service members. They offer valuable insight into resources they wish they would have had. They want to pay it forward so today’s vets have good opportunities.
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