When veterans come home from the war, many of them bring back so many stories to tell. The problem is that society tends to forget them and these stories end up untold and suppressed. The moment they come home from their service, most veterans disappear back into the community. This is unfortunate, not just for the veterans but for society as well, since the experiences and stories from the servicemen and women can benefit everyone in so many ways.
Recently, the expressive arts have become a great way for many veterans to share their stories to the world. There are some veterans who had found their voice by writing while there are those who go onstage to tell their stories in speeches and theatrical performances. All of these are good signs that the veterans’ voice is coming out to be heard by many of the world’s population.
The stories that these veterans have to tell are more than just ordinary stories. What’s more, the act of telling these stories also serves various purposes. To understand the importance of this simple act, perhaps it would be best to take a look at the following reasons:
This refers to the purging of strong emotions. Veterans have a lot of pent-up emotions that come from their experiences in the war. Many veterans experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is due mostly to the fact that they keep traumatic experiences to themselves.
Veterans who suffer from PTSD can no longer function normally in society. Their daily lives are affected because they replay those traumatic experiences over and over in their heads. It is a debilitating disease that makes them withdraw from everyday interactions. Even the smallest thing can trigger memories of the traumatic events they have gone through.
Although there are some medications prescribed to treat PTSD, talk therapy has also been proven to work wonders on the disorder. When veterans are able to share their stories among fellow veterans, they do not feel so alone in their struggles. They are able to purge themselves of the traumatic experiences that they have bottled up for so long and move forward with their lives.
The struggles and sacrifices of servicemen have been written about for many years but ordinary people will never completely feel the way these veterans feel about what they have gone through. With more stories told by veterans, more and more people will at least learn about what these public servants go through as they perform their sworn duty. With enough awareness, civilians for whom these soldiers put their life on line can extend support, understanding, and kindness towards these veterans.
Reintegration into the Community
When they go back home, there is a certain part of the veterans that feel disconnected from their community. The years of being out on the field and away from their families and friends have the effect of isolating them from the lives they used to live. Even as they seem to simply disappear into their communities, these veterans feel out of place and often opt to keep to themselves. By encouraging veterans to tell their stories, they are made to feel that they are still part of their old community.
Passing on Oral History
What veterans have are pieces of history. First hand experiences of how history truly unfolded can be passed on from one generation to another. These are stories that you do not normally find in history books. These are stories that are told with real emotion unlike most of the storytelling found in academic textbooks. Some communities could perhaps have an annual tribute night where the stories will be recounted as a way to keep history alive. This is, of course, not recommended for events that are truly traumatic or devastating.
Preservation of Legacy
Much has been said about remembering the past and honoring the brave men who have served their country. Letting veterans tell their stories is a way to honor them for their service and bravery. By sharing their stories with the community, people will remembering them and the legacy of these veterans who served so gallantly will also live on not just for their sake but for the entire country’s sake.
Encouraging veterans to tell their stories is the least their family and friends can do for these living heroes. However, circumstances can vary from one veteran to another. It would not be constructive to force them to tell their stories if they are not ready to share them just yet. Not all veterans “heal” at the same pace. What is important is that their family and friends remain supportive and ready to give them the “stage” when they are ready to share their stories.
Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir
In this dark humored War Memoir, Iraq veteran Michael Anthony discusses his return from war and how he defeated his PTSD. Civilianized is a must read for any veteran, or anyone who knows a veteran, who has returned from war and suffered through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“I wont soon forget this book.” -Mary Roach
“A must read.” -Colby Buzzell
“[S]mart and mordantly funny.” –Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“Anthony delivers a dose of reality that can awaken the mind…” Bookreporter
Order your copy of Civilianized: A Young Veteran’s Memoir .