An soldier’s mother wanting to help her son
The new issue of Army contains a thoughtful set of exchanges from the CompanyCommand website between a mother wanting to help her son as leaves active duty and others who have been through similar experiences. The mother, whose name is just given as Judy, said that after her son’s tour in Iraq, she found him ...
The new issue of Army contains a thoughtful set of exchanges from the CompanyCommand website between a mother wanting to help her son as leaves active duty and others who have been through similar experiences.
The mother, whose name is just given as Judy, said that after her son’s tour in Iraq, she found him “cold,” and “filled with hate for the Iraqis.” He shook when other cars on the road were came close. She asked, “Can we help him?”
There were several moving responses. Ryan Neely, an officer just back from 15 months in Iraq, advised:
Treat him like a man… My mother wanted to keep me in the box she felt comfortable with — her innocent boy, clean cut and no rough edges — but that wasn’t me anymore. I felt belittled and misunderstood and underappreciated for the sacrifices I had made.”
Molly Kranc, wife of an Army captain, added that in her own experience, “PTSD is a chronic condition that cannot be cured, only managed.” I liked this insight, which is consistent with what I have seen. I was surprised that I hadn’t seen this observation before.
Most strikingly, Ray Kimball called on his own experience to recount that after his combat tour, he was teaching at West Point and found himself irritable and short-tempered. But he didn’t seek counseling, he recalled, was “when I nearly hit my now-3-year-old child because he wasn’t getting dressed quickly enough. The shock of that was enough to force me to come to terms with that fact that what I was doing was not normal.”
By the way, I think CompanyCommand and its sister site, PlatoonLeader, are two of the most effective and thoughtful military innovations of recent years. They are worth far more than whatever it costs the Army to operate them. (Fyi, you need a .mil address to get access to these, I think.)
Thomas E. Ricks is a former contributing editor to Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tomricks1
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