News / Arts & Entertainment

For Veterans with PTS, Battle Is Just Beginning

With PTS, Soldiers Leave 1 War Only to Battle Anotheri
X
Penelope Poulou
May 13, 2014 12:57 PM
Veterans can spend an entire lifetime dealing with the trauma of war. While severe physical injuries are attended to, those with emotional trauma are often left to suffer in their own darkness. One documentary showcases the pain and loneliness of veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS). But it also illuminates how this darkness can be lifted. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Penelope Poulou
Veterans can spend an entire lifetime dealing with the trauma of war.

While those with severe physical injuries can get help rehabilitating into society, those with emotional trauma often suffer in their own darkness.

Two films, one a documentary, the other a drama based on a real story, showcase the pain and loneliness of veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTS). But the films also illuminate how this darkness can be lifted.

Not Yet Begun to Fight

Steve Platcow's documentary Not Yet Begun to Fight follows Elliott Miller as he slowly heals from the physical wounds he received in Afghanistan.

“Yes, I do have some goals that I’m working towards," Miller says in the documentary, "and one is that I am working on improving my verbal communication abilities and two, I’m presently working towards getting able to legally drive again and three, well, that one I’m just going to save for myself.”

Emotional healing will take longer.

A program called “Warrior and Quiet Waters” brought Elliott and other veterans suffering from PTS to Bozeman, Montana, for some therapeutic recreation.

Marine Colonel Eric Hastings created the program after returning from the battlefield and finding solace in fly fishing.

“It became an absolute desperate physical and mental need," Hastings said. "And I had to do it or I was going to kill somebody.”

Platcow, who says every fish caught and released symbolizes a chance for redemption, is personally invested in the documentary. His grandfather, a World War I veteran and later  missionary in what was then the Belgian Congo, suffered from PTS.

“He hunted incessantly, so he was never able to live a life without violence," Platcow said. "The best he was able to do managing himself was to channel the violence in a way he felt it was productive and that he was providing food for himself as well as the villagers that they were serving.”

But for many veterans with PTS there is another kind of violence.

“Violence inward results in suicide," said Platcow. "And there’s been a lot of that coverage of mortality rates of returning troops and just how high these suicide rates are."
 
Back in Bozeman, the veterans feel inadequate and are reluctant to rejoin society. They are angry and ashamed.

"It’s shameful to think that these people think that you screwed up and killed four good dudes," said Marine Capt. Blake Smith, a helicopter pilot. "Even if you didn’t, it’s shameful.”

Hastings says the men, like many others, will spend a lifetime trying to exorcise their inner demons.

While physicians and society are more aware today of the very real emotional pain of veterans who suffer from PTS, that was not the case in the past. The second film focuses on a World War II veteran who spent years trying to come to terms with his experiences.

The Railway Man

Based on a true story, The Railway Man starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman follows the journey of Eric Lomax, a British army officer tormented by his past.
Veteran Overcomes Anger to Befriend World War II Tortureri
X
Penelope Poulou
May 13, 2014 6:21 PM
Based on a true story, "The Railway Man" ‒ starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman ‒ follows the journey of Eric Lomax, a British army officer tormented by his past, who meets up with his torturer decades later, eventually befriending him. VOA's Penelope Poulou reports.
"The Railway Man" follows the story of Eric Lomax, a World War II veteran who eventually forgave and befriended his torturer. 

After the surrender of Singapore in 1942, he was captured by the Japanese and held and tortured at a labor camp in Thailand. His wife, Patti, who he married in 1983, says it took many years to understand how that torment affected him.

“He could be extremely nice and something can trigger a total change of attitude which is totally confusing," she said. "You are walking on eggshells all the time, frightened that if you say the wrong thing or raise your voice. You can’t be angry with these people, it just reminds them too much of terrible things."

It was not until the late 1980s that Lomax was diagnosed with PTS and finally agreed to counseling.

Lomax had spent a large part of his life fantasizing about killing his nemesis, a Japanese translator who had tortured him. When they learned that Takashi Nagase had written an autobiography, Patti Lomax wrote to him on her husband’s behalf. He wrote back with an apology, explaining that he done a great deal of charity work in atonement.

In 1993, Eric and Patti Lomax went to Thailand to meet Nagase. Patti Lomax says Eric made the trip with the intent to kill his old tormenter. Instead, the two reconciled, and even after many years became friends.

“He just found that the anger drained away," his wife said, "and he said ‘Sometimes, Patti, the hating has to stop.’”

Eric Lomax died in 2012, and that realization is engraved on his tombstone.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

Country-pop singer, Lizzie Sider sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to perform songs from her new album, “Butterfly,” and to talk about her anti-bullying tour.