Advanced Essay #4: War Beyond the Battlefield

Upon beginning this paper I had a very set idea for what I wanted to write about, the war within oneself. Yet, during the peer editing process I determined that I would need to narrow my thesis in order to stray from sounding vague. My final thesis involved the consideration of PTSD acting as a war in a veterans mind long after they have exited the battlefield. I must admit that at first I felt very uninspired concerning the general topics of this paper. However, the more research I did, the more engaged I became. The development of my larger idea was not done in a premeditated fashion, it developed over the course of my writing. This was most satisfying to me, the fact that I didn’t have to search for a larger idea, on the contrary it came to me.

Picture this, a black and white image depicting a close up of an older man. His face is the focus in the image. Crinkles surround tightly shut eyes. His mouth seems to be pursed due to creases, yet it is hard to tell because of his white beard, which traces across his upper lip and down to his chin, crawling up either side of his face. The eyebrows of the old man are knit together, forming an indentation in the space between. The old man appears to be recalling something in his mind unknown to the viewer. The memory does not appear to be a pleasant one due to his expression, the mixture of a wince and a grimace. This man is a veteran. When veterans come home from war there are many issues a previous soldier can face: problems with the VA, homelessness, yet those who never served in the army fail to consider the war that wages beyond the battlefield long after the battle is over.

In PBS’s interview Moral Wounds of War, a soldier's experience is referenced as following “For some, unless they get called back the war is over. For others, it’s only begun.” This so called war which is referenced throughout the article is otherwise known as PTSD. PTSD is the main cause for much of the trouble that follows a vet. Violent outbreaks, a symptom of this disorder, can land many in jail.  Other futures for vets with PTSD hold homelessness, prosecution, and suicide. Many have guilt in relation to events which occurred during combat. The absence of god is another aspect that many question.  This source held many bits of statistical evidence to support my topic, as well as a relevance that opened doors to new perspectives.

When a soldier exits the battlefield it is expected that the war is finally over. However PTSD is an ongoing, raging battle that can affect many veterans long after the war is over. Mike from the veteran panel is an example of this effect. It was not necessarily that he came right out and said “I have PTSD”, it was more like the underlying tone he carried when referring to himself.  Whenever Mike mentioned his skill it was never in the light of benefit or value but in the sense of spastic failures. To be at war with yourself doesn’t mean you have ever had to experience the likes of war. It is more of a state of being.  Having low-self esteem, something that leaves people with the emotions of being a consistent failure and carrying a lot of guilt due to that whether there is truth to it or not.  

“I like to talk about the moral emotions of war, and they include wounds, but they’re the hard, bad feelings that may erode at your character.” Said professor Nancy Sherman from Georgetown University. War is not only physical but mental too and it is something that needs to be realized.