Undoing Amerika's Torment of Vietnam Veterans


PTSD Defined


This book argues that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam Veterans cannot be fully understood without a consideration of how political, social, and cultural factors have exacerbated the clinical manifestations of combat trauma during post-deployment adjustment.  More than any other Veteran cohort, Vietnam Veterans were subjected to both obvious and subtle forms of discrimination, marginalization, and social isolation that complicated and compromised his “coming home” adjustment capacity.  The psychological impact of America’s withdrawal from Vietnam and the cultural schism that began in the mid 1960s, left thousands of Vietnam Veterans feeling disillusioned, angry, and alienated.  The “irrational shame” that many Veterans inherited from antiwar protestors and parts of American culture that no longer supported the war, aggravated his combat trauma and PTSD.  The psychological effect of this social phenomenon, however, has not been given sufficient attention by most researchers who have focused primarily on cognitive and behavioral interventions to reduce clinical symptoms of PTSD. 

Dr. Turner argues that post deployment adjustment status may be equally or more influenced by many non-trauma or “external” variables such as the social, cultural and political receptivity, acceptance, and gratitude by citizens and government officials—the two groups who Veterans defend through their military service.  The failure of citizens and government to understand, acknowledge, and appreciate military services reduces the likelihood of successful post-deployment adjustment status for Veterans returning home.  Moreover, such failure may even compromise US national security through a growing schism or insidious erosion of the relationships forming the classic American Trinity of People, Government and Military.   This work reflects a qualitative assessment of the complex relationship between combat trauma and the macro-cultural environment which may either help or hurt the psychological recovery process and suggests implication for future military-civilian affairs.