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A Different Kind of Courage

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder amongst soldiers is a controversial issue. Here in North America there is a whole industry dedicated to treating it. And much money to be made in the process.  I know soldiers who have it. I know other soldiers who claim that some of the guys who say they have PTSD are using it as an excuse for bad behaviour. Soldiers are told that PTSD and similar conditions are as real as a bullet in the arm. I’d say it’s closer to a bad back. Anyway, soldiers are urged to come forward and get treatment: no stigma. But you know, I’m not sure I would go to my employer and tell them I had PTSD. It seems a good way to get yourself red-flagged. Of course, sometimes the symptoms are so bad that a person doesn’t have choice about seeking help. Kicking the dog every time you see it, or worse, might be a good indication that it’s time to see the doctor. Another problem with PTSD is there are numerous ways of treating it  - possibly because combat stress problems can have several causes. One theory as to why it wasn’t a massive issue after the World Wars was that it took the soldiers longer to come home from the fighting and then came back together – lots of time to talk things through with their peers. These days a guy can be pounding the sand in Helmand one day and going to the chippie in Hamilton the next. But actually, we don’t know whether PTSD was a big issue after the Second World War. I remember being told as a kid not to play near certain houses because the guy who lived there had been a prisoner of the Japanese. I knew some older serving soldiers who as young men served with old guys who were veterans of the Second World War or Korea. Some of the old veterans apparently had pretty serious drinking problems. It can happen to anyone given a bit of bad luck. A person might be punched the face seven times in their life and not go down. But you get punched in the head seven times in as many seconds and there’s a good chance you’ll be on the floor.

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