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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    New in Music Alley

    Border Crossings: A Great Big Worldi
    || 0:00:00
    ...  
     
    X
    April 27, 2016 12:30 PM
    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."

    Duo Ian Axel and Chad King who are better known as "A Great Big World" released their sophomore CD in 2015, "When the Morning Comes" and they join Border Crossings host Larry London to perform songs from the new CD and also their biggest hit, "Say Something."