Veterans Day Worksheets For Kids
November 10, 2010 by USA Post
Veterans Day Worksheets For Kids, (CP) – “I am not so well. I am clear off the hooks,” wrote a soldier who soon would be discharged from the Army as unfit to serve. Back at home in Pennsylvania, he turned increasingly paranoid and violent. Then he killed himself.
The year was 1864 for this young Civil War veteran.
It would take more than a century, and many more wars, for post-traumatic stress disorder to be recognized as a medical condition and to be acknowledged by the U.S. military as a raging fact of life.
A new HBO documentary, “Wartorn: 1861-2010,” charts this heartbreaking story, from the U.S. invasion of Iraq all the way back to the Civil War, whose veterans, according to the film, accounted for more than half the patients in mental institutions of that era.
James Gandolfini is an executive producer, returning the former “Sopranos” star to veterans affairs after his 2007 HBO documentary, “Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq.”
“Wartorn” premieres at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday, which, of course, is Veterans Day. There may be no more fitting way to honour the nation’s fighting men and women than to bear witness to the struggle many of them never can stop fighting.
“We should be aware of what’s happening,” said Gandolfini, discussing the film not long ago in his Manhattan office. “Unless people start thinking about it, one way or another, it’s not going to stop.”
As in “Alive Day Memories,” Gandolfini appears on camera only sparingly in “Wartorn.”
Explaining his role in the film, he took pains to describe himself as “certainly no expert in any of this. I just want to ask questions and see what they say.”
Among numerous military personnel with whom he met, he is seen in Baghdad talking to Sgt. John Wesley Mathews, who tells him, “Days upon days of living at such a high alert level physically will burn your candle out.”
At Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, Gandolfini inquires how many soldiers who served in intense combat situations return home “completely fine.”
“Those folks are pretty rare,” says Col. Charles C. Engel of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress.
“Nobody is really unscathed,” says Col. John Bradley, Walter Reed’s chief of psychiatry.
Far from unscathed was Noah Pierce of Gilbert, Minn. His mother tells of his torment after serving two tours in Iraq. He finally sought relief by pressing his dog tag against his temple and firing a bullet from his handgun through it into his skull.
“The United States Army turned my son into a killer,” says his mother, Cheryl. “They trained him to kill to protect others. They forgot to untrain him.”
Symptoms of PTSD are vividly displayed by William R. Fraas Jr., who, back home with his family in El Paso, Texas, speaks of his anger, agitation and guilt after three tours in Iraq.
Even a trip with his wife and kids to Walmart is more than he can handle.
“It’s getting close,” he says, expressing his need to flee this big, seemingly threatening store. “We got people staring at us.”
“Wartorn” also hears from a group of World War II veterans who for the first time open up about the stigmatizing condition then termed “combat fatigue” that has plagued them ever since.
“I thought I was the only one in the whole world that came out of the war with something wrong with my head,” says Michael Shields, who describes the separate beds he and his new wife occupied because of his disruptive nightmares — nightmares he still has, a half-century later.
Today, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, is working to change attitudes toward PTSD. But he concedes to Gandolfini that resistance from within the military continues even now.
“You’re fighting a culture … that doesn’t believe that injuries you can’t see can be as serious as those injuries you can see,” he tells Gandolfini.
“The military was extremely generous in allowing me access to people that I was shocked that I got access to,” said Gandolfini, reflecting on the film’s preparation. He added that he believes the military is “doing the best they can” to find answers.
Asked how much impact he thinks “Wartorn” might have in awakening the public and further spurring the military, he replied, “Do I think a documentary is going to change the world? No, but I think there will be individuals who will learn things from it, so that’s enough.”
“His heart is in this issue,” said executive producer Sheila Nevins, back with Gandolfini for “Wartorn” after their collaboration on “Alive Day Memories.”
The film initially was never meant to span 150 years, she said. But as research progressed, “we found, in every war, soldiers come home with war wounds that are in many cases irreparable, and not necessarily recognized by the military.”
It was a wrenching discovery process, she added: “People were telling us things we didn’t really know how to hear.”
That sums up the experience of seeing “Wartorn.”
HBO is owned by Time Warner.
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