Women and the aftermath of war

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Women and the aftermath of war

Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Jan 02, 2008 6:43 pm

I found this article (Mental toll of war hitting female servicemembers) from USA Today by Andrea Stone to be interesting. It takes everything we've learned from Grossman (On Killing) and others to another level.

Image

With Vietnam our military learned how to overcome the human aversion to killing its own kind. Firing rates on the front line were higher (greater than 90%) than any war in the past (mostly 15%). And with the operant conditioning tools used to overcome this built-in psychological barrier came an epidemic of PTSD. In hindsight we also learned another unfortunate fact - most things that could have been done wrong in Vietnam were done wrong.

  • Soldiers were trained as individuals rather than as a group. They went to battle as individuals rather than in tightly knit groups.
  • There wasn't a well-defined front line, and - more importantly - a place to get away from the action.
  • Soldiers spent too long on the front lines.
  • Soldiers were sent home quickly as individuals rather than via the slow boat ride or long march home in groups.
  • Instead of an appreciative public, soldiers came back to protesters who spit in their faces and called them baby killers. Vietnam vets were considered failures because the war effort failed.
Much has changed since Vietnam. We now know what causes PTSD (shell shock, battle fatigue, etc.), are doing much to minimize the risk of it, and are treating people promptly at the first sign of symptoms.

Enter women in large numbers in the services. Now we have two new problems.

  • Women think, act, and feel differently than men.
  • The rate of sexual assault for service women is about 10 times that of men. Not only is sexual assault another nasty ingredient to the witch's brew, but the conditions that make it possible haven't yet been considered.

The article is well done, and IMO worth a read. Commentary from the learned audience is welcome and appreciated.

- Bill
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Postby Dana Sheets » Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:23 pm

It is no surprise, really. Killing is difficult and if the aftermath doesn't affect the human then they're a sociopath. In public health it is widely acknowledged the married men live longer than they otherwise would because they have support of a spouse.

Bring a woman home from combat and she may or may not have a supportive partner, the divorce rate for Iraq vets is skyrocketing (I'll look for the stat), add mental health issues into the mix and the stress of re-introduction into civilian life and who wouldn't have problems?

We owe a huge debt to those who serve with their minds and bodies in the field of battle. And part of that debt should be paid with exceptional mental and medical services when they return home.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Tue Jan 15, 2008 8:44 pm

Dana wrote:
Killing is difficult and if the aftermath doesn't affect the human then they're a sociopath.

This is a debatable hypothesis, Dana. I remember a fairly interesting and entertaining discussion I had with Rory on this at one of the summer camps. He bristled at the idea that someone such as he might be considered a sociopath.

I know that Grossman's thinking on this has evolved. If we can categorize, it's possible that society isn't just "normal" and "sociopathic". I believe I've heard one classification that puts people into the categories of wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs. Some who find a calling in the military and law enforcement seem unusually equipped to kill within the confines of the law for "the good guys."

It makes sense to me that the survival of a group within a species could indeed depend upon some members being capable of committing the unspeakable for the sake of their clan.

- Bill
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Postby TSDguy » Tue Jan 15, 2008 9:33 pm

I also don't buy into people necessarily being a sociopath. I've never killed anyone, but I REALLY don't think I'd give a damn about if, say, I had to kill someone attempting to murder my wife. I can see being traumatized by the scare of situation, but I think many if not most people can kill without remorse. I'm very suspect of soccer moms who claim they wouldn't kill to defend their children.

I can't test this, and for all I know I'd wind up with PTSD from an event like that, of course. It's just a gut feeling.

I think it gets trickier the more complicated the situation is, like war, but I can certainly see healthy soldiers being able to kill because of things like defending their own lives, believing they are making the world a better place, believing they are saving innocents, etc. Again, just gut feelings about people in general and my own psyche. I've never killed anyone and am certainly aware that you have to have experienced something like that to know what it's like.
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Wed Jan 16, 2008 1:00 am

I had a PhD polymer chemist Uechi student who eventually became one of my black belts. Rosanna had an edge to her. I sensed she would have no problems pulling a trigger under the right conditions.

One day after class when the women were downstairs in the UVa locker room getting their showers, Rosanna chose to take a shower in the stall farthest from the entry. Imagine her surprise when she flung the shower curtain open, and stood buck nacked staring at some Peeping Tom with wide eyes after having been exposed himself.

While the rest of the women shrieked with their towels pulled close to their bodies, Rosanna proceed to pound the poor sap with everything she had. Word is that her ... uh ... body parts were flying as wildly as her fists. 8O

A half hour later, I found the poor fellow hiding under a bench in the men's locker room with his arms over his head.

What was the aftermath for Rosanna? One of her shokens to the guy's head missed, and hit the brick wall behind him. She bruised her knuckle... :lol:

Nope... Rosanna wouldn't think twice about pulling a trigger in the right situation. And she was a sweetheart of a human being to boot.

- Bill
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Postby RA Miller » Wed Jan 16, 2008 2:41 am

There is a finality to killing, and it has ripples. Even if you could convert someone from living to dead with no emotional baggage the same twitch of a finger will create orphans and a widow, which may be harder to deal with. And people will not treat you the same and you will notice that too.

It's not a simple, binary thing- I'm okay with it or I'm not.

I generally deal with emotionally toxic people and events pretty well, but too much too fast can still get to me and it takes time to settle.

When is change growth and when is it damage?

When is extreme experience horrific and when is it profound and how much of that is simple choice?
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Re: Women and the aftermath of war

Postby Crystal.Sands.McKinney/Be » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:27 am

Bill Glasheen wrote:I found this article (Mental toll of war hitting female servicemembers) from USA Today by Andrea Stone to be interesting. It takes everything we've learned from Grossman (On Killing) and others to another level.

Image

With Vietnam our military learned how to overcome the human aversion to killing its own kind. Firing rates on the front line were higher (greater than 90%) than any war in the past (mostly 15%). And with the operant conditioning tools used to overcome this built-in psychological barrier came an epidemic of PTSD. In hindsight we also learned another unfortunate fact - most things that could have been done wrong in Vietnam were done wrong.

  • Soldiers were trained as individuals rather than as a group. They went to battle as individuals rather than in tightly knit groups.
  • There wasn't a well-defined front line, and - more importantly - a place to get away from the action.
  • Soldiers spent too long on the front lines.
  • Soldiers were sent home quickly as individuals rather than via the slow boat ride or long march home in groups.
  • Instead of an appreciative public, soldiers came back to protesters who spit in their faces and called them baby killers. Vietnam vets were considered failures because the war effort failed.
Much has changed since Vietnam. We now know what causes PTSD (shell shock, battle fatigue, etc.), are doing much to minimize the risk of it, and are treating people promptly at the first sign of symptoms.

Enter women in large numbers in the services. Now we have two new problems.

  • Women think, act, and feel differently than men.
  • The rate of sexual assault for service women is about 10 times that of men. Not only is sexual assault another nasty ingredient to the witch's brew, but the conditions that make it possible haven't yet been considered.
The article is well done, and IMO worth a read. Commentary from the learned audience is welcome and appreciated.

- Bill


I agree with Dana!
Life is a series of quests - become your own hero.
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