Ok, really…this will be the last time I bring up that COIN symposium. Just when I think I’ve run that car into the ground I find something else to write about.
LTC Malevich writes about a some thoughts that were sparked by a discussion he had with my friend who happens to be a counselor with the VA. I’m way out of my league talking about mental health (I expect someone to pick up on that opening…) and so I’ll see if I can dragoon my friend to talk about it in more detail but as I understand his position, he argues that we need to do a couple of specific things to prepare soldiers to minimize their risk of PTSD.
Malevich recounts a fellow officer whose career crashed and burned after a bad tour in Bosnia. Well worth your time.
The episode reminded me of another Canadian officer (Maj. Ross Johnson) who gave a class way back in 2000 about the Rwandan genocide and the nation as a terrorist. I’ve got his materials and will have to blog about it some time (another item in the queue) but I fear I won’t be able to do his presentation much justice. It was so good I credit it to no small measure with my decision to stay in the military. Anyway, he mentioned the PTSD of General Dallaire.
I suspect many of us who have deployed or work with those who have know people who probably are suffering from PTSD. There are just some common behavioral characteristics that make you step back and say ‘whoa…that’s not a normal reaction’. We’ve come a very long way since my deployment in 2004 in terms of identifying and treating PTSD but there’s still a long way to go.
These messy little wars we’ve been in since 1945 are complicated and filled with morally ambiguous situations. On top of the regular (?!) problems of fear, death and killing soldiers are expected to engage in combat operations in one area today and potentially provide assistance to the same people the next, while exposing themselves to all sorts of risks.
The Army offers something called ‘Resilience Training‘ (although it looks like most of it isn’t expect to be complete until the end of this year) but I wonder why there isn’t a DoD wide effort. Is there a unique Army approach to treating and preventing PTSD that would vary greatly from the Air Force or Navy?
I’m also not sure how integrated this sort of training is (versus being one of those ‘C’mon guys, let’s sit through another bullshit annual briefing’). I’m unlikely to be deployed again (knock wood) but I haven’t seen any of this training since I’ve been back and we’ve just passed the six year mark.
Ok, I’ll see if I can get some more information on this…