Following up on the previous story, there is increasing evidence that many returning veterans from Iraq are experiencing emotional trauma caused by long-term exposure to battle. We forget that during World War II, American soldiers in Europe were not actually in the front lines for extended periods of time. After the German defeat in North Africa there was a lull of several months before Sicily was invaded. Then, there was a lull before the invasion of Italy. The men stationed in England waited months before the invasion at Normandy. D-Day occurred on June 6, 1944 and the war ended in May, 1945. Consider this aspect of the war in Iraq – our fighting men and women are most probably engaged in the longest continuous fighting ever experienced by soldiers in American history.
I suspect we have limited data concerning the emotional impact of being continuously in combat, get several months off, and return to such experiences. Charles Thomas, who returned to his job in the Phoenix Water Department, says he was transformed from a gregarious and outgoing man to a quiet one when he got home. He became abrupt with co-workers and nervous around crowds. Will Holton, a Phoenix police officer, said upon return home from Iraq he got into confrontations with co-workers.
Among the tasks of those dealing with the emotional health of combat veterans is more extensive research into the psychological dimensions of extended exposure to combat. We know men relive battles or are easily startled and have difficulty sharing feelings with family and friends. Congress should be allocating extensive funding for the creation of a new mental health program specifically geared to those who were in combat for extended periods of time.
Information from Navy Times