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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Acclaimed jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller has made a name for herself appearing with such high-profile artists as Beyonce, Esperanza Spalding, and Terri Lyne Carrington. Tia and her quartet performed music from her CD “Angelic Warrior” on our latest edition of "The Hamilton Live."