Dealing with stress in wartime is unavoidable. It is often the difference between life or death. But it takes many forms. In earlier days, the camaraderie among fellow soldiers was a big factor, especially when the majority of the nation approved of the military action.
The politics of later wars, especially the Vietnam War, caused even the most dedicated military officers and men to doubt the validity of the war and the missions they were assigned. It was in Vietnam that soldiers began to take refuge in drugs, to question the draft and those who were exempt from it, and to feel the criticism of civilians back home.
Family members often withdrew from friends and neighbors when the topic of war and active duty came up. They were among the first to recognize what came to be labeled PTSD in soldiers back from the battlefield. Family members also had to find coping strategies.
“I remember the man that left was not the same man that came back. He drank and was angry a lot. He hurt us…badly. He told me a few stories. In 2009 (just before going to India) I wrote a piece to get my head around what it must have been like for him. I [have] forgiven him! “
Tracy Hutchison, Army brat.
“There’s only 2 things you can do with a disability; you can allow the disability to disable you, or you can disable the disability. I’ve lived and coped with my disabilities for 40 years, and at age 70, I work full-time, have a family and young daughter and a full life.”
George Webb, US Coast Guard, Fireman First Class, 1962-66