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Combat stress: As old as war itself


The physical wounds left by the war in Iraq are all too easy to see. But survivors of war are often left with mental scars as well, whether they are soldiers or civilians, victors or vanquished. In this five-part series, BBC News explores what happens when the fighting stops - but the trauma continues.

World War I veterans called it shell shock.

The World War II generation talked about soldiers "going psycho".

Today it is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - psychological trauma caused by bad experiences.

Victims often find themselves having nightmares or being unable to sleep. In many cases, they have intrusive flashbacks to the events that caused the trauma.
There are pre-and post-deployment briefings for all pers deployed on ops, with easily accessible (in theory) help at any time before, during and after. PTSD is a much over-used term - many people will experience some trauma stress symptoms after critical incidents, but few will go on to develop true PTSD. However, it is not well understood outside the forces, and it could be argued that any publicity is useful. One day the government may even wake up to the appalling way veterans are treated, particularly those with mental health injuries.
Amazing the care and sensitivity we employ in this area - whilst herded in a BFOT in Iraq, awaiting a lift out of theatre, we had the "psych" briefing. In the period before the brief, we were entertained and distracted by being shown "Enemy At The Gate"....I suppose it could have been Full Metal Jacket.........

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