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Emotions in the Combat Zone. VETERANS HEALTH ALLIANCE OF LONG ISLAND MHA NASSAU COUNTY JOHN A. JAVIS Director of Special Projects Phone: (516) 489-1120 ext. 1101 E-Mail: jjavis@mhanc.org. HISTORICAL CONTEXT. WORLD WAR II US attacked – Pearl Harbor

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Emotions in the Combat Zone

VETERANS HEALTH ALLIANCE

OF LONG ISLAND

MHA NASSAU COUNTY

JOHN A. JAVIS

Director of Special Projects

Phone: (516) 489-1120 ext. 1101

E-Mail: jjavis@mhanc.org


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HISTORICAL CONTEXT

WORLD WAR II

  • US attacked – Pearl Harbor

  • World-wide conflict / Struggle for Freedom

  • Feeling of all that “we are at war” – Rationing, blackout drills, “Rosie the Riveter” etc.

  • Draft / Enlistment

  • Atlantic + Pacific Theaters


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World War II (Cont’d)

  • Went away for “years” – Not coming home until the war is won.

  • Communication: Slow, Censorship of mail

  • Achieved a victory / Liberation

  • Returning home on slow troopships gave troops opportunity to reflect / share about the experiences.

  • Returned home and became the “greatest generation”.




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KOREAN WAR

  • The “Forgotten War”

  • “War” vs UN “Police Action”

  • “Stop the spread of Communism”

  • Few civilians in combat zone

  • Hand-to-hand combat earlier in war

  • Enemy preferred to attack at night

  • Cold Weather injuries

  • War became a “stalemate” and then unpopular


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OPINION ON KOREAN WAR (May 1953)

  • “As things stand now, do you feel that the war in Korea has been worth fighting, or not?”

  • Not worth fighting 55%

  • Worth Fighting 36%

  • ********************************************

  • These veterans returned home to the America of the 1950’s – a time of “peace and prosperity”




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VIETNAM WAR

  • Draft still in place

  • System of 1 year tours = High number of veterans

  • Accountability? / “Short Timers”

  • “Individual Replacement” – Newcomers shunned by those more experienced.

  • Guerrilla Warfare – Who is the enemy?

  • Me Lei Massacre (March 1968)


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VIETNAM (Cont’d)

  • Easy access to alcohol through military

  • Easy access to drugs (By the enemy to degrade the U.S. fighting force)

  • First “TV War” – Families watch evening news nightly

  • War becomes unpopular at home – Peace movement

  • Veterans poorly treated upon return home


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Post Vietnam “Cold War” Era

  • Switch to an all-volunteer force

  • “Professional Army” (Ethics, Management)

  • Heavy concentration of troops in West Germany

  • Training focused on large scale conflict in Europe against Soviet Bloc

  • Issues of peacetime soldiers – Boredom / Not being home / Marital / Alcohol


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1st Encounter With Terrorist / Suicide Bombers

  • “Peacekeeping Role”

  • Beirut, Lebanon (Oct. 25, 1983)

  • Islamic Jihad car bomber blows up Marine Barracks in Beirut

  • 241 Americans KIA

  • Iran implicated

  • “Rules of Engagement” hindered sentries from effectively engaging the vehicle


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Post Vietnam Operations

  • Operation Urgent Fury (Oct. – Nov. 1983)

  • Grenada

  • Rescue of American Citizens threatened by Cuban Forces

  • Heavy use of Special Operations

  • 18 KIA


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Operation Just Cause

  • Invasion of Panama (Dec. 20, 1989 – Jan. 1990)

  • Safeguard US Citizens threatened by Gen. Manuel Noriega

  • Heavy use of Special Operations

  • 24 KIA










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OPERATION DESERT STORM

  • US Forces on the ground August 7,1990

  • January 17, 1991 Air Campaign begins

  • Series of TV Briefings by General Norman SChwarzkopf

  • February 24, 1991 Ground Campaign begins

  • February 27, 1991 Hostilities ceased

  • 408 KIA









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OEF / OIF vs Previous Wars

  • OEF / OIF: Heavy use of Guard / Reserves – Same individuals serving multiple tours.

  • Communication: WW II Slow, censored mail vs. OEF / OIF: E-mail

  • Media reporting: WW II Time delayed, “Patriotic” reporting vs. OIF / OIF: “Instant” reporting, some veterans complain that the “good stories” don’t get out.


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VOLUNTEER

  • “Nothing is as strong as the heart of a volunteer”

  • LTC. “Jimmy” Doolittle (WW II)


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Why Fight?

  • “American soldiers in battle don’t fight for what some president says on TV, they don’t fight for mom, apple pie, the American flag – they fight for one another.”

  • LTC. “Hal” Moore (Vietnam)


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VALUES

  • “The Soldiers of TF 2-7 Infantry rose to the occasion. All of the values their mothers and fathers and grandparents taught them, they learned. They stepped up to the plate. They did not just followed their leaders, they accompanied the leaders. Sometimes they lead the way! They said, “Sir the enemy’s over there, don’t worry, we’ll get you over there!”

  • LTC. Scott Rutter (Operation Iraqi Freedom)


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THE NATURE OF COMBAT

  • (Battlemind)

  • Percentage occurred at least once during most recent deployment (OIF)

  • 92% Knew someone seriously injured or killed

  • 74% Had a member of their team become a casualty

  • 74% Saw dead or seriously injured American

  • 47% Handled or uncovered human remains

  • 33% Responsible for death of enemy combatant

  • 19% saved the life of soldier or civilian


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CHAOS OF COMBAT (Battlemind)

  • Heat, noise, blast

  • Hard to identify targets

  • Many yelling commands / screams of wounded


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FEAR

  • (Walter Reed Army Institute of Research)

  • Fear is common in combat

  • 2/3 of Silver Star recipients reported an increase in fear as the battle progressed


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SENSORY OVERLOAD (Battlemind)

  • SEE: Poverty, garbage and decay, rubble, fire, wounded and dead friends + enemies, “gawkers”

  • HEAR: Explosions, gunfire, ricochets, cries of wounded, wailing of civilians, commands

  • SMELL: Rot, garbage, feces, burning, chemicals, smoke


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PERCEPTION OF THE ENEMY

  • Hard to tell Friend from Foe (Some Sects have “switched sides” during the war)

  • Non-uniformed combatants

  • Enemy doesn’t follow recognized rules of land warfare

  • Use of disabled individuals as suicide bombers

  • IEDs / VBIEDs


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A SHIFT IN EMPHASIS

  • Shift from a wide open land battle scenario to an insurgency

  • Shift from a desert environment to an urban environment

  • Expectations that young soldiers will not just seek to kill the enemy, but are now charged with being a “peacekeeper”, a “diplomat”


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“Peacemaker” vs “Killer”

  • MAJ. Davina French (SAMHSA, August 2008)

  • Soldiers give children a piece of candy in one hand and have a weapon in the other

  • Am I going to be a peacemaker today or am I going to kill someone today?


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FAITH

  • MAJ. French

  • For some, a religious faith

  • Faith in each other (ex. Trucks following each other in a convoy during a sandstorm).

  • Who has my back?


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“Black and White Thinking”

  • (Dan Taslitz, OneFreedom.org)

  • In a war zone either “I’m safe”, or “I’m in danger”

  • Either you are a “threat” or a “friend” to me.

  • (ex. Someone tailgating in a combat environment could be a suicide bomber – are they a threat in the civilian world?)

  • If someone insults you in the civilian world, should you take violent action?

  • Civilian life can be “grey”


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PERCEPTIONS OF ALLIES

  • Can they really be trusted?

  • Can they “stand up” for themselves?


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OPERATIONAL REALITIES (Battlemind)

  • Boredom and Monotony

  • Lack of Privacy

  • Perceptions of a lack of equipment

  • Unit may be used for some other duty than what they were trained for (i.e. Engineer Company transporting toilet seats)


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Comments from VHALI Combat Veterans

  • PAT YNGSTROM (Vietnam): MIND IS FOCUSED ON “SURVIVAL”!


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DR. DENIS DEMERS (Vietnam era MH Spec.)

  • Boredom when off duty, little to do.

  • Loneliness when you can’t contact family home.

  • Anxiety when alerted for a mission.

  • Lower ranking enlisted have little control over their lives.

  • Financial concerns.

  • Little opportunities to “stand down” and release stress.


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Denis Demers (cont’d)

  • Long shifts, long stretches with little down time.

  • Tensions between combat units and support units.

  • Smuggling / black market

  • Drugs + Alcohol


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LTC. Vin Montera (Iraq)

  • Difference between first and subsequent deployments.

  • Importance of spouse to have a support network.

  • Encourage spouses to keep busy in healthy activities.

  • Advise against communicating minor “problems” to the spouse in the combat zone.


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  • Veteran will be different upon return home

  • May have encountered trauma

  • May have (more likely now) been involved in humanitarian efforts.

  • A change in their “world view”

  • Encourage spouses to share both the “good” and the “bad” things they have seen.


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CPL. Luis Duran (Iraq)

  • Stress over being able to communicate home – Weekly? Monthly?

  • Homesickness

  • I don’t want to be here?

  • Why are we here?

  • Routine / following orders gets monotonous

  • “This s@#$s!?



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HOMECOMING

  • MAJ. Davina French (SAMHSA, Aug. 2008)

  • Soldiers look forward to coming home.

  • Once home, their minds may be on those buddies still in the combat zone.

  • May have dreamed of their children while deployed, but once home may feel “smothered”.


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WHO IS THE HERO?

  • MAJ. French

  • Upon arrival home, may be treated as a “hero”…….this may also cause internal emotional conflict.

  • May feel that the “heroes” were those who were killed

  • If they were not heavily engaged in combat, may feel that the heroes were those engaged in combat.


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SLEEPING

  • IN THE COMBAT ZONE – SLEEPING IS DANGEROUS / HOW DOES THIS TRANSLATE UPON RETURN HOME?

  • (Dan Taslitz, OneFreedom.org)


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COL. George Patrin

  • “It is normal for one to have ‘trouble’ after the experience of combat. It would be abnormal not to have trouble”.


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REVIEW BATTLEMIND CONCEPT

  • Buddies vs Withdrawal

  • Accountability

  • Targeted Aggression

  • Tactical Awareness

  • Lethally Armed

  • Emotional Control

  • Mission Operational Security

  • Individual Responsibility

  • Non defensive (Combat) Driving

  • Discipline and Ordering