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Understanding the War Experience

 

Although U.S. military personnel receive extensive pre-combat training, war-zone experiences tax soldiers physically and emotionally in ways for which no training program can adequately prepare them. The horrors of war to which soldiers are exposed include:

  • Reality-based fear of their own imminent death.
  • Having to kill.
  • Experiencing the sight, sound, and smell of dead or dying people (e.g., friends, civilians, enemy soldiers) with no opportunity to adequately grieve.
  • Handling dead bodies and body parts.
  • Observing devastated homes and communities and homeless refugees.

Even soldiers who have not been exposed to such traumatic experiences have endured daily, lower-magnitude events and circumstances which commonly exacerbate stress in war zones. Among these are:

  • Spartan, cramped living conditions.
  • Heavy physical demands and long work days.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Undesirable food.
  • Harsh climate.
  • Separation from loved ones and missing significant family events (birthdays, weddings, funerals).
  • Career-related concerns (e.g., delayed graduation from college, losing a job, being denied a promotion).
  • Sexual, gender, or racial harassment (e.g., unwanted comments or sexual touching from other soldiers, gossip and rumors directed toward individuals, sabotaging of work and/or reputation, racist remarks).

While these experiences and conditions many not be as traumatizing as those listed in the first series of bullets, these day-to-day irritations and pressures further tax soldiers' available coping resources and may increase their chances of developing physical and psychological problems.

Resource:
James Madison University: For Returning War Veterans

Although U.S. military personnel receive extensive pre-combat training, war-zone experiences tax soldiers physically and emotionally in ways for which no training program can adequately prepare them. The horrors of war to which soldiers are exposed include:

  • Reality-based fear of their own imminent death.
  • Having to kill.
  • Experiencing the sight, sound, and smell of dead or dying people (e.g., friends, civilians, enemy soldiers) with no opportunity to adequately grieve.
  • Handling dead bodies and body parts.
  • Observing devastated homes and communities and homeless refugees.

Even soldiers who have not been exposed to such traumatic experiences have endured daily, lower-magnitude events and circumstances which commonly exacerbate stress in war zones. Among these are:

  • Spartan, cramped living conditions.
  • Heavy physical demands and long work days.
  • Sleep deprivation.
  • Undesirable food.
  • Harsh climate.
  • Separation from loved ones and missing significant family events (birthdays, weddings, funerals).
  • Career-related concerns (e.g., delayed graduation from college, losing a job, being denied a promotion).
  • Sexual, gender, or racial harassment (e.g., unwanted comments or sexual touching from other soldiers, gossip and rumors directed toward individuals, sabotaging of work and/or reputation, racist remarks).

While these experiences and conditions many not be as traumatizing as those listed in the first series of bullets, these day-to-day irritations and pressures further tax soldiers' available coping resources and may increase their chances of developing physical and psychological problems.

Resource:
James Madison University: For Returning War Veterans