Sunday, June 4, 2017

The History of PTSD.

Tom's Journal.

Hi  Friends,
    I have studied this subject in depth and also know from experience that too many Veterans come home with varying degrees of PTSD,  and I have it too.   My peers both love and respect me, and most Vietnam Combat Vet's give me a nod or a respectful greeting.   All we really want is our own small place in the sun, to live a full productive life  -- as I did/ am, and give high praise to our Lord and Savior,  Jesus Christ.

Tom  Schuckman

A very interesting & enlightening article!     Too many Veterans are being diagnosed with PTSD and labeled "mentally ill/handicapped",  then shoved aside with little or no treatment!

Sent: Friday, June 2, 2017 10:29 AM
Subject: The history of PTSD

“Combat fatigue” and ways of dealing with it go back to Biblical times.

The history of PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been tormenting soldiers and other trauma survivors since the dawn of history. Though serious research into it only began in the modern era, literary sources reveal that men have suffered from it for much longer. In Band of Brothers, the effects of PTSD are examined through the character of Pvt. Blithe, but Dick Winters is also depicted as a victim.
Private Blithe suffering conversion disorder in Band of Brothers
Effects of PTSD were already observed and recorded in ancient times. The first definitive description dates back to 490 BC, when, during the Battle of Marathon against Persia, an Athenian soldier called Epizelus saw the death of a comrade and went blind, even though he himself wasn’t wounded. Frightening dreams of previous battles and a fear of night have been described by the physician Hippocrates and also appears in Icelandic Sagas and medieval descriptions from the Hundred Years’ War.
Depiction of fighting Hellene soldiers on an urn
In the modern era, PTSD was named ‘nostalgia’ by Swiss army physicians in 1678 and described as melancholy, incessant thinking of home, insomnia, weakness, loss of appetite, anxiety, cardiac palpitations, stupor, and fever. During the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, it was named ‘vent du boulet’ (“cannonball wind”) and described as fright caused by the draft of a near-miss, starting the tenacious notion that it’s caused by a physical effect of some sort. The famous German writer Goethe described his own experience with it: “Your eyes can still see with the same acuity and sharpness, but it is as if the world had put on a reddish-brown hue that makes the objects and the situation still more scary ... I had the impression that everything was being consumed by this fire ... this situation is one of the most unpleasant that you can experience.”
Russian artillery at the Battle of Borodino against Napoleon
Shortly after the American Civil War, cardiologist Jacob Mendez Da Costa described it as ‘soldier's heart’ based on the high blood pressure and heart rate. During the war, victims were treated as insane: herded into cattle wagons and sent away with a note from their hometown or state on their clothes or allowed to wander away and succumb to the elements. PTSD was also seen as a sign of weakness and malingering, an attitude that persisted in America well into the 20th century.

The Industrial Revolution also saw the spread of railroads, railroad accidents and attendant cases of PTSD in civilians. Named ‘railway spine,’ these cases were believed to be caused by microscopic lesions in the spine caused by the accidents.
Corporal Calvin Bates. During the Civil War, PTSD could be triggered not only by combat, but also exposure to nightmarish conditions such as at Andersonville Prison in Georgia, where Bates lost his feet.
World War I saw the rise of the name ‘shell shock’ and explanation of concussion caused by artillery. The young science of psychiatry was quick to point out that many afflicted soldiers weren’t exposed to artillery and introduced new names such as ‘battle hypnosis’ or ‘war strain.’ After the Great War, Sigmund Freud himself was called upon by the Austrian War Ministry for his expert knowledge and testified that the brutal electroshock treatment performed on shell shock victims was useless.

Independently, all warring sides discovered the same basics of treatment: victims were kept close to the front lines, where they received emotional support from comrades; their treatment began immediately to avoid chronic effects; and it used simple methods such as rest, sleep and practical psychotherapy. Nevertheless, the disorder still carried a strong stigma and many British Commonwealth victims were executed for malingering or cowardice. At the same time, the population also felt pity for those whose PTSD had visible manifestations, like the German Kriegszilterer (“war shakers”).
Shell shock victim in WWI
After the First World War, military organizers tried to combat PTSD in the ranks by “screening” emotionally weak individuals. When World War II rolled around, however, this proved ineffective, as 25% of all casualties were from PTSD, now called ‘combat exhaustion’ or ‘battle fatigue,’ leading to the U.S. Army slogan ‘every man has his breaking point.” In the eyes of many, PTSD was still not fully accepted as a legitimate health issue. The best-known example is General Patton’s infamous incidents, when he slapped two privates hospitalized for combat exhaustion. A hard-driving leader, Patton didn’t believe in shell shock and the resulting altercation earned him the ire of the press, the disapproval of his superiors, and his getting sidelined from command for a year.
An American soldier comforting his comrade in Europe
A German victim of battle fatigue
Battle fatigue can take various forms and some of them are depicted in Band of Brothers. Blithe’s blindness is ‘conversion disorder,’ the loss of a body function without an organic cause. When on leave in Paris, Winters has a flashback to an earlier, traumatic experience (shooting a young, momentarily unarmed German), another common symptom. Episode 7, called The Breaking Point, also shows Lynn "Buck" Compton becoming unable to fight and permanently leaving Easy Company after witnessing the death of two of his buddies. Interestingly, he became an attorney and as the DA of Los Angeles and successfully prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murderer of Robert F. Kennedy, ripping apart a defense based on diminished mental capacity.
PTSD Symptoms - Re-experiencing (band of brothers)
Winters having flashbacks, a symptom of PTSD, as depicted in Band of Brothers
Towards the end of WWII, the medical establishment finally came to accept that nobody was immune to mental illness, and started instructing medical officers in the diagnosis of battle fatigue and various treatments such as drug-assisted suggestive therapy. Of course, the end of World War II didn't mean the end of PTSD. Korea, Vietnam, and more recent conflicts have shown that this terrible affliction will continue to plague soldiers and trauma victims as long as there are wars.
A War Department Official Training film for U.S. medical officers
about combat exhaustion.
You can learn more about the lives and hardships of soldiers from the American Civil War through the Great War to World War II on our various tours in America, Europe and the Pacific, running all year around in 2017, 2018 and 2019.
We can do our small part in aiding those veterans and service members suffering from PTSD by, for example, not setting off fireworks on July 4 in areas where we know a veteran resides and may be affected by its sound.

Please also make those who you can aware of the Veterans Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, send a text message to 838255 or visit to receive confidential support 24/7. You may save a life.

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Many of us now regard D-Day and the Battle of Normandy as one they were sure to win. But at the time it was an immense gamble, as General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned young American soldiers in a radio address before they boarded the invasion ships on the English coast. Eisenhower’s decision to go on June 6 was one of the bravest decisions of the war.

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This promo is valid for D-Day Anniversary tours scheduled for 2018 and 2019 and booked between June 1 - June 16, 2017. The winner will be reimbursed for the total amount of money paid at booking for all passengers under his booking number. Tour rates and payment schedule per terms and conditions. Our cancellation policy offers a full refund up to 90 days before the tour after the application of a $350 cancellation fee. This offer is not retroactive, cannot be combined with other promotions. There will only be one winner drawn whose name will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook page on June 19, 2017. The winner will also be notified via the email address provided at booking.