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View Full Version : "The Impact of Killing" - re: soldiers but relevant for everyone


jcims
December 28, 2006, 02:05 PM
Pretty good article, especially sections that talk about the physiological response to fear and having to pull the trigger.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/heart/themes/prep.html

JohnKSa
December 28, 2006, 11:07 PM
This is a very important subject for anyone who owns a firearm for the purpose of self-defense.

crashresidue
December 29, 2006, 04:00 AM
Cheers,

This IS the most through article dealing with killing another human being I've ever read.

It should be a manditory READ for every person who believes in "self preservation" with a firearm.

I was STUNNED!

cr

Glenn E. Meyer
December 29, 2006, 11:50 AM
Here's a thread I started a few months ago on a similar subject with some good books recommended.

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203849&highlight=PTSD

Many of the classes I've taken mention these problems to the students. The PBS report is a great read.

I've seen Klinger (one of the books at conferences) and I saw him on the tube on a CourtTV show discussing police shootings.

JohnKSa
December 29, 2006, 03:07 PM
IMO, this topic is not only useful for the purposes of understanding and dealing with PTSD (an after the fact issue), but also for the purpose of understanding the built-in reticence of normal humans to kill one of their own kind.

There is significant research to indicate that the vast majority of people are virtually unable to kill another human without the proper conditioning. That's something that everyone who owns a gun for the purposes of self-defense needs to consider.

oldbillthundercheif
December 29, 2006, 04:22 PM
A fellow named Dave Grossman wrote a book a while back called "On Killing"...

It is a damn fine book. He posits that the process of killing your fellow man is not just about conditioning and the person's pre-existing mental state, but also about distance. Pushing a button and blowing up the blurry image of a person on a video screen is much less likely to cause PTSD and people in general are much more willing to do it.

I have not found this to be entirely accurate as my father constantly thought about all the Japanese pilots and aircrew he shot down in the pacific and fully expected to meet them in the afterlife:
"I think when I die there may be a few dozen japs waiting for me at the gates of heaven... I hope I still get in" -Pop

I know that I still think about the folks who may have met their end as a direct result of my actions in military aviation. It may not qualify as PTSD, but I think about it a lot and it bothers me plenty so this distance hypothesis may not be the whole story.

Either way, it's a good book and I agree with most of it.
http://i89.photobucket.com/albums/k223/zarganuts/OnKilling.jpg

revjen45
December 29, 2006, 04:23 PM
Anyone who isn't affected by killing another person is called a sociopath. Killing in self defense is something you would do only because NOT doing it is the only thing uglier than doing it. I would shoot to defend my home and family, but I'm sure that it would affect me and if I could avoid it I would. OTOH, those who place innocent people in fear of being killed or maimed have no legitimate complaint when their chickens come home to roost.

Al Norris
December 30, 2006, 04:15 PM
A couple of things I'd like to comment upon.
But if we haven't prepared ourselves emotionally for the act ahead of time, and we just tricked you into killing, the magnitude of the trauma can be significant, because we're having to live with something that your body says is not right, that you didn't want to do, and you were simply tricked into killing.
Forget for the moment that David is talking about Combat. Just consider the statements made about having to shoot and kill someone in response to a deadly threat.
The potential's there to be devastated and psychologically destroyed by that act.
If you haven't made the mental adjustments necessary, in almost all cases, you will suffer for it. Perhaps as much as is indicated above. But...

Each of us handles stress differently. And each stressful event is different from the previous event.
For some people, and for police personnel as well, killing can be the most devastating issue. But for other people, the killing isn't. They feel quite justified that it was him or me: "If I didn't kill this individual, so-and-so would have gotten attacked. I was doing my duty." Different people will experience the same event in very different ways based on what their understanding of the event is, what their understanding of the alternatives are, what their past experience is. So it's not a simple question.
Catch that last part? What your past experiences are, will determine in some respect how you handle the current event and what you experience after the event.

This is a topic that doesn't get discussed enough. Most people who get guns for self/home defense don't train. Most of the people who get concealed permits don't train any further than what's required to get the permit. These are observable facts. For many that do train more, target practice is often the only other form of training they get.

Does anyone seriously think this is all the training you need?

Of course, those of you that do go further and take some actual gun-fighting training, do you think that's all there is to it?

Unless your training includes the mental preparation necessary for killing, you ain't trained yet. Nor is it easy to prepare for an act that you have never done and in all honesty, you may never do.

One of the reasons that these discussions run short, is because there will inevitably be the poster who comes along and says that while he has never killed anyone, he has no doubt that he can. Some of these will even say that the act of killing a human will have no effect upon them.

At this point, I can only shake my head in pity for that person. Learning can only take place when the student is willing to be taught.

JohnKSa
December 30, 2006, 06:23 PM
What your past experiences are, will determine in some respect how you handle the current event and what you experience after the event.There are varying views on this. I think everyone agrees that conditioning can help a person deal with this. However it's also been shown that a small percentage of the population just doesn't seem to have a problem with it. I definitely don't think that the average person is going to be conditioned to handle killing simply by virtue of past experiences. The kind of experiences that would provide that kind of conditioning are rare.One of the reasons that these discussions run short, is because there will inevitably be the poster who comes along and says that while he has never killed anyone, he has no doubt that he can. Some of these will even say that the act of killing a human will have no effect upon them.Exactly. While there is a small part of the population for which this might be true, the odds are heavily against it. And more to the point, it's not something you can take a test for to find the answer ahead of time.

The choice is to either get the training you need ahead of time or just wait to see what's going to happen. Based on some of the studies I've seen, waiting to see can provide some pretty unexpected results. And I'm NOT just talking about the aftermath.

Socrates
December 31, 2006, 12:08 AM
I've been in two instances where I had to make a choice between killing or maiming. First one the guy was bigger then I was, considerably, but, he had a bad knee. I decided getting away was the better choice, because his size dictated picking points of attack that might harm him forever, like eyes, throat, etc.

The second, I had little choice. I resigned myself to attacking the second the Walther PPKS was pointed at me, and, taking the guys out as quick as I possibly could. However, again, it was the last choice. I was lucky. He just hit me over the head with it, and allowed me to sink down, like I was really hurt, but, ready to spring. I don't remember how I got out, if I got out first, or they left. I think the three of them took off, not wanting to face the cops my yelling was sure to bring.

It's a very strange feeling to say to yourself,
"Well, it's a beautiful day to die."
But, not going into that shock state probably saved my life, both times.
Guess that 20 years of martial arts and boxing came in handy for something...

S

Al Norris
December 31, 2006, 12:30 AM
There are varying views on this.
Agreed.

Since I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination, what I say is entirely based upon my own observations during combat. I have only drawn once as a civilian and did not have to fire. As such, I can only extrapolate what I have experienced.

For example. When I came back from Vietnam, I didn't touch a gun for about ten years. I had sworn to myself that I would never kill another man again. Famous last words! I was drawn back into guns through hunting with some of my buddies. Another friend introduced me into the concepts of second amendment activism. I got my first handgun in '97. I have held a CWP since 2000, 3 months after I joined TFL.

Briefly stated, I've been inside the looking glass and back out again. Full circle. Which is what I base this particular opinion upon.

JohnKSa
December 31, 2006, 12:53 AM
To clarify, it's clear that a person's background will affect how they handle this kind of situation, but I think that's primarily talking about degrees of catastrophe. In other words, the vast majority of people are going to be severely traumatized and their background will determine whether it incapacitates them totally or just causes them extreme mental distress.

The people who handle killing well are either pre-conditioned and counseled properly (before and after) or they're one of the very small part of the population that seems to be "immune". I tend to think that even with all the proper conditioning and counseling, most people are still going to have some pretty major problems--just much less severe than would be normal.When I came back from Vietnam, I didn't touch a gun for about ten years.Did you get any sort of counseling from the military or did they just set you adrift?

Socrates
December 31, 2006, 01:34 AM
My dad was a gunnery control officer, on a destroyer, in WWII.
He said the war really affected him, way more then we ever knew.

God Bless him.

S

dfaugh
December 31, 2006, 09:50 AM
This is a very difficult topic, as killing someone else is a very personal experiance.

I just finished reading a book called "SHooter" about a sniper in Afganistan/Iraq. According to him, its "no big deal" to pull that trigger....The enemy were simply "targets" that had to be eliminated. Not onlewas he willing to do it, he was eager to go "hunting". I wonder what he'll feel when it all catches up with him in 20 years.

I suffer for PTSD, which never came back to bite me, for almost 30 years. I now understand why my father wouldn't talk about his WWII experiences for many years.

Al Norris
December 31, 2006, 10:37 AM
John, the quick and easy answer is that I received no counseling prior to being discharged.

Baba Louie
December 31, 2006, 12:14 PM
Death is an unknown and unwelcome foreigner in todays world and our culture has evolved to a point where death is almost feared rather than embraced. Or perhaps that should be worded, where life is be embraced, revered, worshipped... and death, especially causing or bringing about a death, foists a great burden upon those equal (perhaps) only to being shunned by society. The mark of Cain, as it were (as the ancient Hebrews called it).

Our children do not die due to lack of medical care as they once did. Our wives do not die in childbirth. Our life expectency has been increased. Our working conditions enhanced.

We do not count coup or wear feathers in our hair for acts of bravery.

The taking of a life is almost always judged to be morally reprehensible by those who were not there and is certainly not a day to day occurance.

Soldiers and LEOs have their buddies, Chaplains, etc to help decompress if they desire. Grievious injury or Death is, unfortunately (a loaded word choice), a part of their job, their life. Sad that. But necessary in a way.

I have seen it's effect in my own family, where it is not openly discussed, but those men (4 uncles, 1 cousin) so affected, altered their lives such that they depend now more on their faith and by helping others. When I was a kid, I revered them for their heroics (real or perceived) in combat. As I aged, more for their inner strengths and wisdom. They are (were) excellent shots, but no longer hunt.

That, in and of itself, says a lot to me.

Life is to be revered. Death comes at a price. Sounds simple in theory.

In practice...

Walter
December 31, 2006, 11:26 PM
Did you get any sort of counseling from the military or did they just set you adrift?

Puh-LEESE!!!

My second tour of Viet Nam ended in Feb. 1970. Both tours ended with
a flight back to CONUS aboard a USAF hospital plane, and my eventual deposit at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland.
If you were openly hostile, you would probably be sent to the "psycho" ward
there, but otherwise, you were assigned to a bed, and pretty much ignored,
except for treating physical wounds. I never heard of any "counceling" being available, and I never talked with anybody who received any counceling for
combat-related emotional problems.
It might have been good if we could have had a little help with the "traumatic-stress" related problems some of us developed later, but that just wasn't there,then. And for many combat vets, it wasn't there in time to do any good. Myself included.

But I thought the article was very good, and a "must-read" for anybody who
intends to carry a handgun for self-defense.

Walter

JohnKSa
January 1, 2007, 12:30 AM
It might have been good if we could have had a little help with the "traumatic-stress" related problems some of us developed later, but that just wasn't there,then. And for many combat vets, it wasn't there in time to do any good. Myself included.That's very unfortunate.

I don't agree with everything Grosman says, but his two books contain a lot of good information. I'd say they're worth the read for anyone who's been placed in a deadly force situation or who seriously contemplates the use of deadly force for self-defense.

Al Norris
January 1, 2007, 09:16 AM
Walter, I hate to use you as a stereotype, but your resentments just prove the case. Don't get me wrong, as I agree with you. The war changed you, as it did myself. As it does many (if not most) of those who go to war.

And that's the point of this thread. If the military, who are trained by dehumanizing the foe; trained to kill and are subsequently affected by such actions, how much more so, the average Joe or Jane on the street?

People who don't seriously consider the ultimate effect of pulling and shooting in self-defense, are in for a very rude awakening. It can be a life-changing situation. It can be a life-destroying situation.

We have all ran through various shooting scenarios. The reason we do this is to mentally (and in many types of training, physically) prepare ourselves for something we really don't want to have to do.

I don't have the answer for how to effectively train for this. For me, part of the answer is to encourage and enhance what could be called, The Warrior Mentality. To make the connection that if someone threatens my life or my loved ones lives, then they deserve what they get. At some gut level, I have to understand that all the legalities aside, the other person merits whatever befalls them. The legalities will sort themselves out, only if I survive the encounter.

shep854
January 1, 2007, 10:41 AM
Massad Ayoob goes into the fallout of a defensive killing in his writings. A key point he brings out is the importance of positive reinforcement after a deadly force encounter. He has cited many accounts of officers who suffered terribly after a "righteous shooting" because of vilification by superiors and the legal system. When the officer (or citizen) received support from peers and family, the level of stress was much lower.

BTW, Grossman co-authored a science fiction novel, The Two-Space War, with Leo Frankowski. In it, many of his conclusions are described and discussed.

Walter
January 2, 2007, 11:49 PM
Walter, I hate to use you as a stereotype, but your resentments just prove the case. Don't get me wrong, as I agree with you. The war changed you, as it did myself. As it does many (if not most) of those who go to war.

Antipitas, no problem. I try really hard not to let the lingering hostility get
through, but sometimes I just utterly fail. I finally came to grips with the
fact that "THAT" war is over, and I have, mostly, gotten over it.

But I still realize that a face-to-face confrontation that results in gunfire
is going to be a traumatic experience, regardless of the outcome. And I
would never try to minimize that.

People who don't seriously consider the ultimate effect of pulling and shooting in self-defense, are in for a very rude awakening. It can be a life-changing situation. It can be a life-destroying situation.

That idea is one of the main points stressed in the Texas CCL training class,
and it cannot be stated enough.

Walter

BlueTrain
January 4, 2007, 05:13 PM
Some people wouldn't even kill an animal, you know. People are much more sensitive about killing animals than people used to be, possibly because you are more removed from the actual raising and butchering animals. It might be nothing more than squemishness in spite of the fact that I, at least, must see 30 dead deer on the road in the course of a year and some of them look awful. However, I don't think people even two hundred years ago were any less sensitive to killing than they are now, in spite of it being somewhat more common in some places (the Indian wars). Even in backwoods frontier communities, people did not get away with murder.

This thread, however, is mainly about self-defense shootings and killing in wartime. Judging from my father's comments, I would say that people may create psycological self-defense mechanisims that allow them to carry on under brutal conditions. People can refuse to think about things if they are far enough away or overjoyed that they lived through it for another day that nothing else matters. As far as not being bothered by events until much later, that may be because men just getting out of the service usually have so many other things on their minds, raising families and holding a job, that only later they begin to think of all they had done or didn't do. For that matter, that would be true for whatever it was you were doing when you were younger.

My father was perfectly willing to speak of his wartime experiences, which were in Italy and later for a year, a POW camp. Incidentally, he took his training at Ft. Knox, so did I and so did my son, who is now serving in Iraq.

Concerning police shootings, it has been pointed out that by a DC policeman that when they are in a shootout, it bothers the policemen for weeks, yet when they track down a shooting suspect, usually at his home, they will often as not find them in bed fast asleep. So there might be such a thing as a killer instinct. All the same there are still plenty of cases where the police shoot people around here.

mr kablammo
January 4, 2007, 06:44 PM
The Wall Street Journal did an article derived from the journal Military Review. The author of the Miltary Review article, Maj Kilner, wrote on the need of the military to ensure that killing the enemy was put in a context of justice. I could not find the original but here is a link to Military Review. Browse at your pleasure.

http://usacac.leavenworth.army.mil/CAC/milreview/English/english.asp

MicroBalrog
January 7, 2007, 05:07 AM
I think the problem here is that people don't often take into account the Big Picture [tm] of violence and combat.

Now, hte thing is, if you're going to be in a situation where people are actively seeking to kill you, you will get hurt.

Not necessarily physically. Maybe intellectually and psychologically like those people in the article. Maybe in some other way.

But the point is, if you get into a violent encounter, it's not likely things will be peachy-rosey-okay afterwards. You don't just 'shoot the bad guy' and treturn to normal life.

Sure, sometimes this happens.

But it happens very rarely.

Maybe you will 'just' suffer from PTSD.

Maybe you will 'just' be dragged through the courts and lose thousands of dollars defending yourself.

Maybe you will 'just' get injured instead of what the bad guy wanted to do originally.

But you will be hurt.

And people who are not ready to realize that are not yet ready for a 'real situation', no matter how shiny their Bad-Guy-Smasher-Terrorist-Pulverizer-2000 is.

Just a few cents...

Socrates
January 7, 2007, 12:19 PM
I figure that if I actually had to defend myself, with a gun, or hands, and I killed, or severely injured someone, that would end my life as I know it.

First, I'd likely have to move, since I'd loose my job, and, probably face misdemeanor or felony illegally carrying a loaded weapon, depending upon the situation, and the results. All of my firearms would be gone for 3 years, due to probation. Next would be fear of retaliation by family or gang from the dead party. etc.

No, it would have to be very clearly my life, or my SO's, in danger.

I never took that lightly with martial arts, always choosing to avoid a conflict, or minimize it, if possible.

I've also found that as hunters get older, they tend to loose their desire to kill. As one guy put it
"What if when I go up to the Pearl gates I was wrong, and God's an elephant?";)

Some people don't see it that way. In Hawaii, guy tried to beat me up, and he couldn't. Easily evaded, and called the police. The officer(the guys uncle) asked me why, with my martial arts background, and conditioning, I didn't beat the s.... out of him, just to teach him a lesson. Answered I don't take lightly fighting big guys, because I may have to do something that won't heal to save myself. Blinding someone is not something I take lightly.
Next day I got a call from the guy that tried to beat me up.
His uncle DID beat the tar out of him, then told him to apologize, or he was going to his own prison(guy was a prison guard) ;-)
Right result, and, I didn't have to get my hands dirty...

S

SpiritWalker
January 11, 2007, 09:48 PM
After reading through the thread and noticing several other vets mentioning symptoms of PTSD, I have to go off topic with this. I was diagnosed with PTSD (USMC + childhood experiences) and didn’t have much hope of recovery until I found this.

“Tapping the Healer Within: Using Thought-Field Therapy to Instantly Conquer Your Fears, Anxieties, and Emotional Distress” by Roger Callahan with Richard Trubo.

I HIGHLY recommend it if anyone is having problems with PTSD or is concerned about having it after a SD situation. It’s also very helpful for several other issues for yourself, friends and family members. It’s easy, quick and most importantly it works.

PzGren
January 12, 2007, 10:35 AM
My father never liked to talk about the war. Our family had been Prussian soldier for four hundred years. My grandfather volunteered to Verdun, my father was drafted into the Wehrmacht and was with the first troops entering Russia.

He once told me a story that had greatly upset him. The Blitzkrieg had stopped and they were fighting young, inexperienced Mongols that were driven forward into their fire. They got shot down like rabbits by the battle seasoned German elite troops.

All of a sudden a Russian came running from the side up to my father and he shot him COM with a K98k at about 10 yards. The man went down, tumbling forward, came up on his knees, started crying, talked in Russian, pressed his hands on the wounds and then extended them towards my father before he slid down and was dead.

My father had hated the war and said that he had cried afterwards in frustration. He would have under other circumstances played chess with him.

The worst was that the Germans had to retreat at the end of that day, the Batallion had barely company strength left, and my father felt the fact that he had shot dozens with the MG34 had been so absolutely useless.

Speer
January 12, 2007, 11:06 AM
Thanks for sharing that, PzGren. I've read many a blood soaked war memoir. Hard to recommend one above another, but Lt. Philip Caputo's is a definite must read.

Pointer
January 12, 2007, 11:48 AM
"I think when I die there may be a few dozen japs waiting for me at the gates of heaven... I hope I still get in" -Pop

Son -
I know that I still think about the folks who may have met their end as a direct result of my actions in military aviation. It may not qualify as PTSD, but I think about it a lot and it bothers me plenty so this distance hypothesis may not be the whole story.

If we didn't delight in killing our fellow man in wartime or defense... then we will be spending a lot of time forgiving each other on the other side... and we won't be calling them "Japs" anymore... :rolleyes:

It's better to forgive ourselves, and them, before we arrive on the other side... :)

Warning
We must not allow this kind of thinking to dampen our ability, or our mentality, to defend ourselves and others.

It is just as bad to allow someone to be killed by our inaction...
as it is to kill in defense of whoever needs our help.

Don't second guess yourself...You must be resolved or you will possibly die a pitiful mess.

oldbillthundercheif
January 12, 2007, 04:41 PM
I just used the words of my father because he is not around anymore to rephrase it in a politically correct manner. If it was good enough for him to say, it's good enough for me to write.

If you want me to jump up and down with glee over my own experiences, that's not going to happen. I did my duty and came back alive... those are the most positive feelings I have about the whole deal. That's "resolution" enough for me.

Pointer
January 12, 2007, 07:49 PM
I am so sorry...
I didn't mean for you to read it that way...
I mean that if we don't maintain some resolve it could get us killed...
I also meant that we (and you) should not feel at all guilty about killing in war or self defense... or the defense of other people...

I never suggested that anyone SHOULD delight in shedding blood... I meant just the opposite...

If we are hestitant when the time comes, then innocents might die a horrible death because of our inaction... and that would certainly give us reason to feel messed up...

Post traumatic stress disorder if largely related to guilty feelings which you and I don't deserve to suffer...

Again, I am sorry I stepped on your sensibilities or anyone else's... I simply wanted do what I could to alleviate the pain of it all and not see one of us get killed because we hesitated to kill an assailant...

I am far from heartless... I cry when I see suffering... I cry when I see the innocent families left behind...

I worry over people I don't even know...like Iraqis who are being tortured and buried alive... and starving little children and their mother's who have to watch them die... It is NOT their fault! and yet they pay a price for it anyway...

As for being a proud atheist... if there is no God you won't have to answer for anything, or to anyone...

Please forgive me... I really didn't mean to say what you feel that I said... :o

PzGren
January 13, 2007, 04:58 AM
Speer, you're welcome.
My father got over all the blood shed very well but never liked guns. I respected that and always kept them in my room.

When I went visiting about a dozen years ago, he packed a little package with food. We usually got a package resembling that with candy for the kids for Christmas every year. I was puzzled because he had already given me the candy to bring it.
When I asked him about it, he told me that it was a Care package for Russians since their economy was so bad he wanted to send canned food.
I wondered even more and asked why he is doing that after all the Russians did. I am referring to their memorandum that every German woman was considered personal property of the Russian soldiers which led to mass raping.

It was one of the rare occasions when he talked about the war. He had been in a guard unit guarding the Fuehrerhauptquartier in the East when they where shipped out on a train. A few days later when the doors of the cattle waggons opened he was in the snow white hell - in a parade uniform with patent leather boots. It only took three days to get frostbite and he had to walk with other wounded soldiers about 30 miles through partisan infested country.
In the evening he knocked at a door, took his hat off and asked if the people would take them in for the night.
There were only older women in the house and they tended to the wounded German soldiers as they would have for their own sons. My fahter said he knew how seriously his frost bite in the foot was when the old Russian woman that took his boots off started crying silently.

The next day the women walked them through the partisan infested woods until they came to a safer area.
At the hospital they had to amputate my father's big toe - and due to a slight oversight of the great Fuehrer without aenesthetics, those were frozen, too.
The only good thing coming from the amputation was that he was sent to an Austrian mountain unit, called the "Mounted Marines" where the climate was much more agreeable.

Like I said, he got over it pretty well but he still woke up in the 60s hearing the Stalinorgeln.

Al Norris
January 13, 2007, 12:52 PM
Can we get our facts straight?

The key words in PTSD is Traumatic Stress. Can guilt play a part? Absolutely. Does it always play a part? No.

PTSD is a term for certain psychological consequences of exposure to, or confrontation with, stressful experiences that the person experiences as highly traumatic. The experience must involve actual or threatened death, serious physical injury, or a threat to physical and/or psychological integrity. (Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post_traumatic_stress_disorder))

I have a good friend in Boise that (still) suffers from PTSD. She was a first responder to the Murrah Building in OK. Firefighters, Police and Paramedics (EMT's) are more at risk for PTSD than most other civilians, simply because of the trauma that they encounter due to their jobs. So it's not just something that combat vets can get. Nor is it something that everyone will get.

By and large, with proper psychological counseling, most people can get over the symptoms (imprecise way of saying they can be "cured" or learn to live with the effects).

There are a lot of variables and it is still being studied and defined.

shep854
January 13, 2007, 01:30 PM
Antipitas makes an excellent point. You would think that someone involved in saving lives would not be subject to PTSD, since they are doing a GOOD thing, but even they have to deal with helplessness and guilt that they could not eliminate ALL suffering or that they could not help everyone.

His post took me back; I am a pilot in the Civil Air Patrol, and I remember the first real search and rescue mission I took part in. I was at mission base when the "find" report came in, and had to stand and watch as the family was notified that there were no survivor. I cannot describe the sense of helplessness and USELESSNESS I felt, even though I did what I could to help comfort them. There was also a sense of guilt when I was thanked (as a CAP member), because I personally had done so little.

SpiritWalker
January 13, 2007, 04:12 PM
PTSD is not completely understood even in the professional mental health industry. It is “know” (suspected really) to be caused by traumatic experiences during war, being the victim of rape, childhood sexual assault and/or abuse, violent crime, domestic violence and other traumatic experiences. Children that grow up in violent areas of inner cities or in violent alcoholic/drug addicted homes have also been known to exhibit common symptoms of PTSD. It can become a debilitating chronic problem in many cases as well as lead to or exacerbate other mental/emotional health issues.

I personally know 3 truck drivers that had to quit driving because they had "killed" someone in an accident, even though they were not in anyway at fault. One driver ended up committing suicide because of it.

Again, I highly recommend that if you or anyone you know is struggling with PTSD check into Thought Field Therapy (http://www.tftrx.com/).

Pointer
January 13, 2007, 11:08 PM
Can guilt play a part? Absolutely. Does it always play a part? No

Agreed

But guilt is different from FEELING guilty... The fact still remains that it isn't their fault that Oklahoma Federal Building was blown up... and your friend/first responder couldn't do a damned thing to prevent it...and she probably felt inadequate in the face of such horror...

Where can she begin?... and she is completely "blown away" by the prospect that mankind can do such things to their fellow men and children and other non-combatants...

Sure they knew OF it from TV and documentaries but the overpowering and awesome reality is more than any sensitive and reasonable human can be expected to ABSORB... We were ALL traumatized by Waco, and Oklahoma, and The WTC Towers... but those who can best COPE with the trauma are those who don't second-guess themselves or blame themselves for something they had neither control over, or think that they might-could've done SOMETHING! to make it all better...

Therein lies the sense of "guilt" and it is mis-applied and simply undeserved!

I repeat! Do not fall into the trap of getting down on yourselves or doubting your abilities...

You didn't do it... or you had no choice (Like a soldier), or you couldn't prevent it, or avenge it, (like a LEO) It is simply a fact of life... and the despair you live with comes from giving it a place in your minds and hearts...

It is not what Reno did or didn't do, and not what Karesh did or didn't do, that stresses you out... it is what you PERCEIVE YOU did or didn't do... or felt or didn't feel... on whatever "battlefield".

Stop beating yourselves up and accept yourselves, and accept your foibles, as human... You are NOT week or inadequate... in fact, you are among the very best people on earth... because you can feel others pain and empathize.

Like a child hurt by their parents divorce... It Is NOT, in any way, your fault!!


Thank you all for your service...

Al Norris
January 14, 2007, 07:10 PM
Pointer, you are a card. I mean that in the best possible way. Really!

I assure you that I have no feelings of guilt, whatsoever. I am happy with who and what I am, today. I am proud of my service in Vietnam...

So tell me why, if I'm awakened suddenly, you had better be beyond my reach or one of us just may die? What deep repressed feelings am I hiding, that 5 years of counseling didn't/couldn't help me with?

Tell me why I can usually hear a chopper coming, long before most people can hear it - and I'm almost deaf from standing guard duty in front of 155mm howitzers firing all night long?

There is more, but why bore everyone? You get the picture.

I guess what I'm trying to tell you, it just isn't as easy as your platitudes make it out to be. There is no easy answer.

JohnKSa
January 14, 2007, 08:23 PM
I guess what I'm trying to tell you, it just isn't as easy as your platitudes make it out to be. There is no easy answer.After having read several books that deal specifically with this topic and MANY books that deal with it peripherally as well as having known a few people with PTSD, I think that the only thing that is true in almost every case of PTSD is that people who have NOT experienced PTSD find it VERY difficult, if not impossible, to relate to those who have.

The typical response by those who have had PTSD is to (after perhaps a few discouraging attempts) avoid talking about it altogether with those who have not been through the experiences they have.

I find it remarkable that we have members here at TFL who are willing to share what they have been through and the effects that it has had on them--that is not at all common. My grandfather served in WWII and only VERY rarely even mentioned the topic, not even to close family members. He spoke with me once for about 10 minutes on the topic--a very light discussion and my mother commented to me later that was the most she had ever heard him say about his service.

I've found myself on more than one occasion trying to be "helpful" to someone with PTSD and realized that I was hopelessly out of my depth and simply thanked them for their service instead.

That's kind of why I was trying to make the point early on in this thread was that the primary usefulness of this topic to the general public is to help develop the proper mindset and also to prepare them to immediately seek professional help if they are ever in a truly traumatic situation.

Pointer
January 14, 2007, 08:52 PM
Antipitas
I did not wish to make it sound easy...
If waking suddenly from a recurring nightmare...
Or responding to ingrained training and experience...
or being hyper-sensitive to approachiong danger... is PTSD

Where is the disorder...? Where is the stress...? Where is the trauma...?

I'm talking about people who cannot function normally. As a result...
they don't eat, they don't sleep, they don't hold jobs, they are often too quick to shift the blame, they become dependant on things outside of themselves because they are ill-prepared to salvage themselves without help.

If what you described is PTSD ... then I have had this disorder myself and, therefore, I will accept that I must be in the wrong...

"Platitutde"? "Card"?
How can I, as you say, take that "in the best possible way"?

P.S.

I wasn't referring specifically to you... I meant anybody who is struggling with these problems... like LEO's who are suicidal, or victim's who become reclusive, or soldiers who can no longer function because of the horror they have inappropriately become accustomed to, or abused children who grow up and abuse more children, or people who become cookie-cutter images of their nemesis.

I only wanted to offer a wee bit of support and encouragement to those who may need it... because in the end, the healing has to come from within... not the other way around... and sooner or later we have to stop blaming our inability to cope on the Gov'mint for not allowing us to win...

You all did your job and that's all there is to it...
And, again, I thank you for that. :)

JohnKSa
My grandfather served in WWII and only VERY rarely even mentioned the topic, not even to close family members.
My Uncle was the same... except that he became very withdrawn... He received a medal for a particular incident where he threw a grenade that exploded only feet away... he survived his wounds but everyone around him died.
30 years later he accidently cut off his fingers on a table saw... he calmly picked up his fingers, stopped the bleeding with his good hand... and went to the backdoor and told his wife to call for an ambulance... later my Dad asked him why he was so calm throughout... he said he had seen far worse in the war and he figured he, and his hand, were living on borrowed time... and that was the end of it.

JohnKSa
January 14, 2007, 10:19 PM
Where is the disorder...? Where is the stress...? Where is the trauma...?

I'm talking about people who cannot function normally. As a result...
they don't eat, they don't sleep, they don't hold jobs, they are often too quick to shift the blame, they become dependant on things outside of themselves because they are ill-prepared to salvage themselves without help.

If what you described is PTSD ...I think that this sentence in my last post is very important, so I'll reiterate at the risk of being repetitive....I think that the only thing that is true in almost every case of PTSD is that people who have NOT experienced PTSD find it VERY difficult, if not impossible, to relate to those who have.PTSD is pretty complicated, and as SpiritWalker points out, it's not fully understood, even by the "experts".

Al Norris
January 15, 2007, 01:01 AM
I know you weren't meaning myself, Pointer. Allow me to try and explain one more time.
I did not wish to make it sound easy...
Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than just looking inward and forgiving yourself... That's the way your post sounded, even if you didn't mean it that way.
If waking suddenly from a recurring nightmare...
No, I don't awaken suddenly from bad dreams. I can be sound asleep and if touched... I come up fighting. My .44 is kept three steps away from my bed, because of that.

The least little noise in the house or the yard that is out of the ordinary, and I'm up. Ready to kill. These are much more than "ingrained training and experience." They are habit and reflex, instinctual. It is that primal creature that dwells in all of us, but we are so ingrained to "civilized" behavior that most people have suppressed the urges.

What I experience is somewhat common to those who have been in prolonged combat. It tends to drive the civilized and tame persona from the id. The animal surfaces. In most cases, can't be subsumed again.

Of those who suffer combat related PTSD, this is often one of the symptoms, but it is not the disorder itself. You would call it the inability to fully re-integrate with society.

Another symptom is numbing. Since those who have PTSD have enormous trouble expressing proper emotions in a given circumstance, we numb ourselves. We become emotional zombies. The "Spock" Syndrome, as some call it.

In my case, I drowned my emotions in years of alcohol and drug abuse. Easier not to feel emotional when you're numb physically.

Too, there are certain triggers. Smell and Sound are strong triggers that bring back unpleasant memories. And the memories trigger emotion. If you're numb... Then these triggers don't work near as well... But they still trigger.

One time, many years ago, my first wife and I went to a weekend party. No drugs, just booze. A song started playing... When I came back to reality, I was out in the bush, crawling in the mud. Somehow, I had thought I was on a recon patrol. The song? Bad Moon Rising. I couldn't listen to that particular song until I was in therapy awhile.

Another time, I was operating a derrick crane, using a bucket to clean out an irrigation drain ditch. Something about the smell... I was clean and sober at this time and under therapy. But for a few moments, I felt I was back in country and walking through a rice paddy. But because I was being helped, I knew enough that it couldn't be true and was able to return to reality.

Many can't. Don't.

In the summer of 1989, I had been in therapy for over two years, when several of the VA psych's decided to get all of us 'nam vets together for a special showing of the '86 movie, Platoon. I hadn't seen it. Heck, I never went to see movies like this!

This one Saturday, about 100 vets gathered at the local Cinema and we watched that movie. Today, I can tell you most of what the movie is about, as I've seen it repeatedly since then. But at that time...

I sat and watched. I was one of the last to leave my seat. As I came out into the lobby, I dimly saw most everyone else had silently left. There were a few who were talking to their psychologists, but I wasn't too interested. I felt the tears running down my face. I was wiping my hands on my pants, trying to get it off. As I came to the door to go outside, my psych was there. He asked me what was wrong. I couldn't answer him, right away. He was silent for a few moments, then asked what I was doing with my hands... I looked at my hands. Then I looked at him and said, "I can't get it off." He nodded his head, knowing. I looked him in the eye and asked, "Why did they have to kill everyone? They weren't the VC, THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE!" I remember next, being on the floor of the lobby, bawling. There were several of the other therapists there and many of the other vets. They all kept quietly telling me that the villagers didn't die. They weren't killed. And I kept telling them that, yes, they were dead. All em them. I kept wiping my hands, as I couldn't get the blood off of them.

I didn't see the same movie that everyone else saw, Pointer.

Recurring dreams, whether you are awake or asleep. Reliving the event, over and over with no seeming control. Numbness to emotions, so that you no longer have to feel. Many do what I did, use alcohol and/or drugs to help achieve that numbness. Some withdraw... Completely.

What we all (soldier and civilian alike) have in common is the experience of a life threatening trauma. It changes us. We leave something of ourselves behind. Some of us never get it back. That's PTSD.

Killing another human does change most people. And most people won't know how to handle it. As John has said, we absolutely have to have the proper mindset and we must be ready to seek professional help, as soon as we can, if we find ourselves in such a situation.

Many Police Departments already have mandatory counseling for those officers that are involved in shootings. You should be asking yourself, why is that?

You may not go through the same trauma that I and other vets have went through, but to you, it will feel just as bad and just as gut wrenching. And possibly, just as life changing.

Accept it as a given, 'cause I know you can't imagine it.

If after this, you still feel that it will be a matter of not feeling guilt, and forgiving yourself... Then I don't know how else I can explain it. I will just hope that you never have to experience such a thing. To have your preconceptions shorn away in such a manner... Well, it won't be a pretty sight.

Al Norris
January 15, 2007, 01:14 AM
As an afterthought:

The whole point of that little exercise (seeing that particular movie with that particular audience) was to get some of us to feel. Before you can work through the emotions, you have to be able to feel them. And before you can feel the emotions, you have to be able to relive the experience(s) that caused the emotions.

Vets like myself, who had repressed these experiences and the resulting emotions, had to have them brought back to the surface.

So the best time to seek help, is when the emotions are still raw.

burnera
January 15, 2007, 02:01 AM
thank you for sharing Antipitas.
People who havent been through the things you have simply dont understand the scope of it all, including me. I find the stories fascinating, but realize how taxing it is on you guys.

I talked to a friend of mine who came back from Iraq a year and a half ago. He's taking a similar path you did, excessive drinking, up to a bottle of vodka a night.
The dreams and memories are still torturing him.
i talked to him while he was drunk and it gave me a sense of just how deep the trauma goes.... which would be straight to the core of the man.

not the worst but i remember him saying "you get back and they have these councelers trying to tell you everything is ok, that what you saw was normal....no man! seeing charred babies isnt normal! thats never cool!"

tanksoldier
January 15, 2007, 06:48 AM
LTC Grossman's "On Killing" was based on research supposedly done by BG S.L.A. Marshal. I say supposedly because BG Marshal never actually did the research. He made everything up.

Grossman may have done the required research himself for the new book, but I'd take anything written by him, or Marshal, with a LARGE grain of salt. Their conclusions MAY be correct, but if so it's just coincidence.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Grossman_%28author%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLA_Marshall

In Hackworth's 1989 memoir, About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior (Chap. 16, "Box Seat"), he described at length his initial elation at an assignment with a man he idolized, and how that elation turned to bitter disillusionment after seeing Marshall's character and methods firsthand. Hackworth described Marshall as a "voyeur warrior" for whom "the truth never got in the way of a good story," and went so far as to say "Veterans of many of the actions he 'documented' in his books have complained bitterly over the years of his inaccuracy or blatant bias," which would provide at least some degree of support for Professor Spiller's assertions. Hackworth's position was that Marshall's opinions, given the political favor and access they enjoyed thanks to his penchant for self-aggrandizement and his resulting outsized, unearned reputation, played a significant role in America's eventual failure in the Vietnam War.

More info here:

http://www.theppsc.org/Grossman/Main-R.htm


GROSSMAN: I train 50,000 people a year, 10,000 cops every year for the last 3 years.

AVENI: For God's sake, cease proclaiming that you "TRAIN" police and military personnel. Do you honestly believe that you are actually training people? You are a lecturer. More accurately, you are a storyteller. No one walks away from any exposure to you any better "trained" than when they walked in the door.

http://www.theppsc.org/Grossman/SLA_Marshall/Main.htm

The implications from this are quite clear. If Dave Grossman has based most of his foundational beliefs (i.e., that men must be conditioned to fire at human targets) upon Marshall's dramatic views of soldier firing rates, then everything that Grossman has built his "On Killing" thesis upon is literally a house of cards.

Al Norris
January 15, 2007, 09:06 AM
People who havent been through the things you have simply dont understand the scope of it all, including me.
Thank you for that admission. That's part of what I'm trying to say. It doesn't much matter how the person with PTSD got there. "Normal" folk won't understand. When it comes to the human psyche, it's never as simple as some would like it to be.
not the worst but i remember him saying "you get back and they have these councelers trying to tell you everything is ok, that what you saw was normal....no man! seeing charred babies isnt normal! thats never cool!"
Your friend is correct. There is nothing "normal" about what happens in war. If that's what the military is doing these days, then they have learned nothing from past, at best. At worst, they are merely giving lip service to the problem. I suspect more of the latter than the former.

Grossman may have done the required research himself for the new book, but I'd take anything written by him, or Marshal, with a LARGE grain of salt. Their conclusions MAY be correct, but if so it's just coincidence.
If Grossman's conclusions are correct, then it matters not how he arrived at them.

Regardless, time and more research will prove or disprove his theories. At the moment, I believe there is enough truth in what he says, to cut the man some slack.

UniversalFrost
January 15, 2007, 09:34 AM
Hi,

Just stumbled upon this thread and thought I would provide a helpful link for those of us who are married and have served down range.

http://www.mvfa.org/mvfa%20home.html


This place is a retreat that is free of charge for all members of the armed forces and offers marriage and personal counseling. I personally have not been, but I do know a few couples that did go and it really helped their marriges.

As far as PSTD and the other affects it has on a person / family it really varies from person to person, family to family. Personally, my brother and I did like our dad and uncles, grandpa's and other male family members. We served our country, went to war, saw and did things that we don't want to talk about with others that can't relate and that is they way it goes. I did have and uncle who was a LRRP in Nam and he did 2 tours and came back all messed up physically and mentally. He did like the rest of the veterans in the family and just kept it in, until it got to him so bad that he took a 1911 and blew his brains out.

My brother was a flying crew chief on med evacs (159th) and he served during Bosnia, Afghanistan and 1 tour in Iraq. He saw the effects of war first hand and even had his chopper forced down twice. After being med boarded out for injuries he recieved after the second crash he did like the rest and just kept it in and washed away the memories with alcohol. He is now recovering, but only after my dad (WWII and Korea vet) and I forced him to a rehab clinic.

I saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq (x2) and various other places. To this date I have only discussed some of my experiences once when I was drunk and my wife asked. All I can say is that I wish she had never asked. It really changed the way she looked at me and the war in general. She couldn't believe how cold/desensitized I had become when she showed me a photo of some of my squad mates and I pointed out which ones didn't make it and the others that had certain injuries and how they had gotten injured). For me I keep holding me experiences in and will do so until it is too much, then I will get help . Thankfully for me I am strong enough mentally to do this, but some guys can't.

For those that it is just too much I really suggest getting help. I know I need it sometimes, but I just haven't found anyone(counselors, priest, etc..) I feel comfortable talking to. Hopefully you will.

With that said, god bless the troops and i wish them a safe and speedy return.

Captain38
January 15, 2007, 11:21 AM
NOT having SOME obvious symptoms of POST TRAMATIC STRESS afterward would be DANGEROUSLY ABNORMAL! We were always told to be concerned for the Trooper who just blew the smoke off the muzzle of his handgun after killing someone and calmly re-holstered as if it meant nothing at all.

Pointer
January 15, 2007, 08:55 PM
Unfortunately, it takes a lot more than just looking inward and forgiving yourself... That's the way your post sounded, even if you didn't mean it that way.
You have to start someplace...
What I experience is somewhat common to those who have been in prolonged combat. It tends to drive the civilized and tame persona from the id. The animal surfaces. In most cases, can't be subsumed again.
Is this like... "they have inappropriately become accustomed to the horror"...?
Most people will live and die and never know how fine the line is between them and "un-civilized".
Another symptom is numbing. Since those who have PTSD have enormous trouble expressing proper emotions in a given circumstance, we numb ourselves. We become emotional zombies. The "Spock" Syndrome, as some call it.
Not so much for me but my Uncle was this way... but in his day they didn't treat "shell shock" and they didn't understand it...
I looked at my hands. Then I looked at him and said, "I can't get it off." ... I kept wiping my hands, as I couldn't get the blood off of them.
WHY... do you think you saw blood on your hands and WHY did you think you couldn't get it off...?
I didn't see the same movie that everyone else saw, Pointer.
My thought is... WHAT therapy was there in watching a movie you had already lived more than once... AND what benefit is there in seeing "Platoon" repeatedly...?
Many Police Departments already have mandatory counseling for those officers that are involved in shootings. You should be asking yourself, why is that?
Why do you believe I should be asking myself... I think you have grossly underestimated me...
You may not go through the same trauma that I and other vets have went through, but to you, it will feel just as bad and just as gut wrenching. And possibly, just as life changing.
...you have grossly underestimated me...
Accept it as a given, 'cause I know you can't imagine it.
Interesting conclusion...
I will just hope that you never have to experience such a thing.
Why do you assume I haven't...?
I couldn't get the blood off of them.
This subject is taking a toll on me... If it's OK with you... I think I'd like to stop now... it seems that anything I can say at this juncture will be misunderstood and I'm unable to smooth it over...

I am very, very grateful for your service and the price you are still paying...
and I have friends who are grateful for mine...

Thank you again...
__________________

Speer
January 15, 2007, 11:29 PM
My grandfather served in WWII and only VERY rarely even mentioned the topic, not even to close family members.
Interesting. My grandfather refused to speak of WWII, not even to his wife. He took his experinces to the grave. My step father was in Vietnam in '68, and endured the horror's of that war. He talks freely of his experinces. He's always on edge and [almost] never blinks.

shooter71
January 17, 2007, 02:46 PM
good reading..

ya know. why dont we have training facilities like this all over the place that trian with the paint sims? makes sense to me..id like one day go to Thunder Ranch, Gunsite and or the Sig Arms academy and take a defensive gun course. but the paint sims seems pretty sweet..if nothing else buy the parts or convert your gun and shoot all day long in your own backyard..if you miss the target youll at least know where the rounds go at ALL times..what could be safer in a training senario

revjen45
January 17, 2007, 09:01 PM
Never having killed anyone (thank God) I can't comment on PTSD from personal experience. The closest I have ever come was having someone who went shooting with me blow his own brains out with my gun. It was mighty ugly. It would seem that PTSD is a mark of humanity. Like the previous post said, someone who blows the smoke off the muzzle and feels nothing is not normal. Having to kill another human being, no matter how justified, damages the soul of a civilized person. To those who have done so in defense of the benefits I enjoy as an American, Thank you.

Big Don
January 18, 2007, 10:48 PM
How many people have actually had to deal with death or dying, especially traumatic death? Seeing someone die in a hospital bed or lying in state at the funeral home is different than being there at the time of the traumatic death, be it war, law enforcement, emergency medical service, etc. I wonder if that changes how you look at death or possibly taking a life.

As a firefighter/paramedic, I had to work with traumatic death. I didn’t receive any counseling, other than what I got from friends, family and my pastors. I still have mental “scars” from some of my calls (especially the kids) but they are scars, not open wounds. They’re there, I know they’re there, but I don’t dwell on them.

I have been asked innumerable times, by a variety of people, “What’s the best gun to have for home defense?” I’ve always asked, first and foremost, “Are you truly prepared to take a human life?” Many of them had to stop and ponder that thought because they’d never thought about the possibility. Some wouldn’t pursue the firearm issue, others would. I am going to make sure, from now on, that those who proceed with the purchase will also have access to the article we’re discussing.

Finally, I was in a situation where a creep said he was going to shoot me but he was also 50 yards away and no firearm was visible. I was on the phone to the Sheriff’s office as this was proceeding and had my legally-carried pistol in hand, inside of my vehicle.
I had already resolved I would shoot him if he made a move and displayed a firearm. As pointed out earlier, I knew my life would be very different from that point on but I also knew I’d have my life, which was far more important. I felt no hesitation and was fully prepared for killing this man if he brought it on himself. I also felt an incredible relief when his “gun” turned out to be his finger. I played the whole scenario out multiple times, wondering what I could have/should have done differently, especially from a “tactical” standpoint. At no time have I wondered if I could have killed him because I had already resolved that issue when I decided to carry a firearm. That being said, I do not want to kill anyone because I know it will affect me in ways I will never know until it is too late. But, I will be the one who is alive.

HowdyZ_28
February 4, 2007, 12:10 AM
IS IT JUSTIFIED??!!!! That's what it came down to for Me...


I will not speak for anyone else because everything effects everyone differently.

I'm a 21B, Combat Engineer
I've shot/killed at distance and I've shot/killed up close during raids, I've also had to "clean up" after the M2 Bradley (25mm) and M1A1 Abrams (120mm)...

In every case, I have been there to See/Know what the "bad guy" was doing.


I've seen these things effect people in MANY different ways. But 99.9% of the time it didn't effect them till much later, which is good from a combat stand point.
I always hear civillians say: "Oh, he never talks about the war"
But I also always hear soldiers and recruits say: "Once I joined the military/went on a deployment he started telling me all these stories"...

There is a reason for that! Same reason that a combat vet (that has ACTUALLY seen combat) will tell you that the media shouldn't be there....
Because "most" civillians do not/cannot understand!!!
We are comforted most by people who have endured the same things....

That being said, the Army is actually trying (annoyingly so) to help the "Active Vets" with PTSD. Many programs are in place now to help with dealing with what has happened.

At the end of the day, the reason I'm able to sleep at night is because I know the things I have done were done in order to save the lives of my fellow soldiers or my own.

Scott

Capt Charlie
February 4, 2007, 12:52 AM
We are comforted most by people who have endured the same things....
Well put, Howdy. Thanks for taking a mature and thoughtful approach to this.

And by the way, welcome to TFL, and thank you for your Service :) .

HowdyZ_28
February 4, 2007, 01:26 AM
Just doing what needs to be done Capt. Charlie.
But thanks for the support... It's GREATLY appreciated by ALL of us....



Scott

BlueTrain
February 5, 2007, 04:17 PM
I was the first one on the scene at a bad traffic accident on a rural road in West Virginia a few years ago. There was one fatality and two seriously injured in another vehicle. Although it was somewhat gory, though nothing like a bomb blast or anything like that, I don't really think it was anything like a shooting incident. The dynamics are just so different. It was an accident. There was also an auto accident that took place in my front yard early in the summer in which a car wound up on its roof because my tree was bigger. But the driver didn't get hurt because of seat belts and air bags.

About veteran's experiences, I think there may be little discussion on the part of veterans because the subject may simply not come up as often as you might think. My father was a WWII veteran (Italy) and was a POW for a year in Germany. He talked a great deal about his POW experiences but not so much about his combat experiences. It never occurred to me in all those years to ask him. After all, none of the things he went through were of his own choosing. He just managed to live through them.