The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I had a first hand view, though very young than, and like the rest of the extended family didn’t realize it, of what War does to those that serve in them, and you then have to extend that to those that live in where they occur.

I won’t go into the details but to say it was an Uncle who was one of my favorites, he was a gifted craftsman but a troubled soul. He was full of life trying to live it that way, than he suddenly snapped! He died alone in the little home he built, more the size of a shed it was supposedly to become, by the lake, shortly before I left Panama and went to ‘Nam. There were a couple of other uncles who showed the results of serving in WWII in other ways as well, and like the book and articles, it was just said “They cam back different then how they left.”. While in ‘Nam I started to understand what he might possibly had been going through, understanding what the rest of the extended family, and his friends, didn’t. And probably still do, as I’m the only one of the recent branch of the family, especially my large immediate family, till a couple of younger distant cousins kids served in Gulf War I, that has served in a combat/occupation theater.

Caught a discussion of a new book on NPR’s “Here and Now” and did abit of searching for some more information.

Book looks at the effects of combat stress on WWII vets

But there’s something else Gold keeps from the war that you can’t see, not unless you’re with the 88-year-old retired obstetrician in the dark of morning. That’s when his nightmares come – and he’s back in a burning bomber in which two friends were killed, or back in that German prison and starving. That’s when Gold shows his greatest WWII keepsake: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Actually it comes at other, less private times, too. Take for instance, a meal. “Don’t mess with my food,” he says………..

Technically no one during WWII or immediately after it suffered from PTSD; because it didn’t exist. The disorder wasn’t officially recognized until 1980. So before that, few sought help for something they didn’t have. They just suffered in silence…………

Found the above after the discussion and book info linked below.

Memorial Day {this link now is active to stream the discussion, a good listen}

A new book paints a devastating picture of life for American veterans returning from war. “Soldier from the War Returning: The Greatest Generation’s Troubled Homecoming from World War II” interweaves the stories of three families whose soldiers were, as the phrase goes, never the same after the war, and the effect that had on their families. Author Thomas Childers joins us for a Memorial Day conversation. Childers is professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.

Book Description:

One of our most enduring national myths surrounds the men and women who fought in the so-called “Good War.” The Greatest Generation, we’re told by Tom Brokaw and others, fought heroically, then returned to America happy, healthy and well-adjusted. They quickly and cheerfully went on with the business of rebuilding their lives.

In this shocking and hauntingly beautiful book, historian Thomas Childers shatters that myth. He interweaves the intimate story of three families-including his own-with a decades’ worth of research to paint an entirely new picture of the war’s aftermath. Drawing on government documents, interviews, oral histories and diaries, he reveals that 10,000 veterans a month were being diagnosed with psycho-neurotic disorder (now known as PTSD). Alcoholism, homelessness, and unemployment were rampant, leading to a skyrocketing divorce rate. Many veterans bounced back, but their struggle has been lost in a wave of nostalgia that threatens to undermine a new generation of returning soldiers.

Novelistic in its telling and impeccably researched, Childers’s book is a stark reminder that the price of war is unimaginably high. The consequences are human, not just political, and the toll can stretch across generations.

Listening to the discussion the book isn’t only about the mental stress of War but also what many returned to especially right after, living conditions and much more.

I than found the following:

Was there more to the man known as ‘town drunk’?

Henry David Thoreau wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”

One could only guess the unsung songs of Thomas Cecil Berzett when he crawled into the back of a parked Tennison taxicab to sleep off a night of drinking on March 26, 1975, and died………..

The above is the first, apparently, of a two part report about Thomas Cecil Berzett and his life after World War II, the second to be printed tomorrow, 5.26.09.

Earlier this morning I just caught a rather short report, on the top of the hour News, about an Ohio Mental Health Center. Tried to find some more about it as it mentioned soldiers, before the the time of Vietnam and the Finally realization of what we now call PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress. All I could come up with was this short local report.

Service to honor former patient

The Ridges Cemeteries in Athens

There are nearly 2,000 former mental health patients buried at The Ridges Cemeteries in Athens and, as locals do more research, they are finding that some of the men and women buried there were courageous war heroes before entering the Athens Mental Health Center.

Records reveal a number of veterans entered mental hospital post-war.

According to Tom Walker, chairman of the Ridges Cemeteries Committee, the 1,965 former patients buried at The Ridges have graves marked simply by small gravestones with numbers. He said the men and women were buried separately and given a numbered marker…………

You have to be a subscriber to view the rest of the above. I do hope that what is found someone will bring out for others to read, and I’m sure similar can be found around this Nation, as well as others, to teach us much more!

And apparently this Athens Mental Health Center has quite a history, as well as being suspected of being haunted. If you do a search of it the web site links that pop up lean in that direction.

The more we ignore what War does the easier it is to be led into Wars of Choice by those that don’t serve in them. We also need to better understand the lasting remnants of, not only for those who fight them but those that live where they take place. Leading to the understanding of what we now call Post Traumatic Stress and that it occurs to many who never serve in Wars but experience extreme Trauma Events in their lives, and live silently or lashing out on others, with the results from those events on their minds and lives.


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  1. …We need to see how the brutalization of a violent society spreads and extends outward to further realms of that society.  War is the most striking example, but it still spreads insidiously outward to others who are then, in turn, traumatized.

  2. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that of the 1.6 million people arrested last year, 10 percent had served in the military. Many of them are veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Now the judicial system is trying to save a generation of soldiers.

    “All I know is before I joined the marines I never got in trouble, never got arrested, never even got a speeding ticket; I come back not even a month, I get a DUI,” Iraq veteran Mariano Vazquez said. “I still feel like there’s something wrong. Sometimes I think I’m crazy.”

    With the studying that has preceded these conflicts, though not enough has still been done nor enough people paying attention and now we have multiple tours in these theaters, more is understood about PTS and can be better diagnosed, as well as TBI. These Vets need help first, not condemnation and lockup!

    • RiaD on May 28, 2009 at 15:47

    i’m an AF brat. i recognize this:

    live silently or lashing out on others, with the results from those events on their minds and lives.

    it explains sooooo much.

    thank you


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