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Interviews with four U.S. veterans from three different wars, plus a look inside a counseling program for Marines who served tours of duty in Iraq

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What it means to be in war - Vietnam Veteran Jim Dooley

(7:35) Dooley is a VA counselor in Vermont who has worked with veterans for 20 years. During the Vietnam war he served with an Army battalion of riflemen stationed along the South China Sea. In these excerpts from his interview, he talks about the trauma of his combat experience, about how men are branded by war, and how his war experience has shaped his philosophy on how to live his life.

· Read FRONTLINE's extended interview with Jim Dooley.

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The generation that never talked about it - World War II Veteran Robert Tharratt

(8:48) Tharratt flew B-17 bombing missions which were among the most dangerous in World War II. The casualty rate for missions like his could be as high as one in four. It has only been within the past decade that Tharratt has been able to talk about his combat memories and the fears that plagued him for forty years and caused continuing nightmares, depression and personal family problems.

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What it means to be in war - Vietnam Veteran Jim Dooley

(6:25) A 22 year-old Marine, he has served two tours of duty in Iraq. One of his most traumatic experiences was seeing a close friend brought into the hospital after he had died from his wounds. "That's the one time I lost it"

After his first deployment to Iraq, he suffered angry outbursts and was diagnosed with PTSD. Returning from his second tour, his symptoms worsened; he withdrew from friends and family. Today, he is in the counseling program at Camp Pendleton. This interview was conducted in November 2004.

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The generation that never talked about it - World War II Veteran Robert Tharratt

(12:47) Eric was a truck driver in supply convoys, a regular target of insurgents. On one run to Fallujah with three other Marines, their truck broke down and for two weeks they were trapped in a fox hole on the outskirts of the city with only minimal supplies, fighting for their lives.

Soon after returning from Iraq, he began suffering symptoms of PTSD: nightmares, flashbacks, withdrawal and difficulty communicating with loved ones. In particular, he struggled to control anger and aggression. This interview was conducted in November 2004.

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A Camp Pendleton Group Therapy Session

(12:01) The Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base near San Diego offers a 10 to 12-week counseling program for Marines who have returned from Iraq suffering from PTSD or post-combat stress. For two hours a week the Marines meet with two counselors to learn to curb destructive behavior and to develop ways to cope with their symptoms.

Some were referred to the program by their chain of command, others sought help by themselves. Each exhibited symptoms of post-combat stress. In these video excerpts from one session taped near the start of the multi-week program, the Marines around the table discuss issues ranging from isolation and withdrawal, to anger and risk-taking and their decision to get counseling.

 

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posted march 1, 2005

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