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'Getting Over It'
New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell explores the subject of human resiliency: What scientists are learning about it and the difference between this era's attitude toward it versus the generation of fifty years ago - a generation depicted in Sloan Wilson's 1955 bestseller, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. In that novel, the hero lived through terrible experiences in World War II but came home and got over it. Why, asks Gladwell, does our generation prefer the war narrative of Tim O'Brien's 1994 novel, In the Lake of the Woods, in which the hero's Vietnam experiences come back to haunt, and ultimately destroy him?

The Literature of War
For as long as humans have been telling stories, they have been sharing the experience of war. From Homer to Hemingway and after, their writings have left a record that has enriched our understanding of war's madness and how it affects the soldier. This section contains excerpts from the poems, stories and memoirs of veterans and first-hand observers - including Hemingway and Whitman - of the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Vietnam War.

Defining and Diagnosing PTSD
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) provides here, online, the official definition of Post-TraumaticStress Disorder, how it is diagnosed, and the psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy for treating it.

Combat Stress Teams and Telemedicine
These are the military's new strategies that are being implemented in the Iraq war to help soldiers cope emotionally on the battlefield - and when they're back home. Here is an overview of how these new initiatives work and the lessons that are being learned.

Report of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Mental Health Advisory Team (pdf)
The aim of this Army study was to assess soldiers' mental health problems during the 2003 invasion of Iraq and provide recommendations to medical and line command. The findings, issued in Dec. 2003, were that forward-deployed mental health teams showed "great effectiveness" helping soldiers deal with combat stress. Soldiers treated in theater avoided the stigma linked to being evacuated for treatment. But MHAT found room for improving the system. The report notes that this study is also only "a snapshot:" 756 OIF soldiers were surveyed, of whom 82% had been in combat.

Combat Duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mental Health Problems and Barriers to Care (pdf)
More than one million men and women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. This study, commissioned by the U.S. Army and published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July 2004, found that for troops who had returned from Iraq, one in six was suffering from symptoms of anxiety, depression or PTSD.

GAO Study Raises Questions About VA's Capacity to Meet Veterans' PTSD Needs
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported in this finding, issued Feb. 16, 2005, that officials at six of seven VA medical centers in its review stated they may not be able to meet an increase in demand for PTSD services caused by returning servicemembers and veterans. [The full GAO report can be accessed off this link]

 

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posted march 1, 2005

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