US Military Suppresses Soldiers’ Emotional Trauma

by Vins

Ann Jones, author of They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars-The Untold Story, talks on behalf of the American soldiers in the Afghanistan war and the affect it had on them. Jones touches on the process involved with the military and how they cover up the deaths of soldiers, and particularly the soldiers assigned to collect the bodies. These soldiers are called “Mortuary Affairs”. Jones mentions the importance of keeping the news of dead soldiers from the rest of the men and women in the military who have to wake up and go fight the next day. Unfortunately, someone has to handle the recovery of the dead, and it is not an easy job. The soldiers in Mortuary Affairs are usually very young and hold the heavy burden of collecting their fallen comrades. Jones states that, “The after effects on the members of these units are terrible.”  The negative effects this job has on these young soldiers include isolating them from others and even causing them to start smelling like the dead.

For those wounded who have survived, the process of returning home is still a struggle. Getting a wounded soldier back the U.S. is not a one-way flight. Soldiers go through a series of transfers from hospital to hospital undergoing surgery. Each hospital increases in the level of trauma care and these surgeries are called “damage-control surgery”. Hospitals start by disinfecting and healing most wounds, trying to save as much of the soldier as possible so that the next surgeon has a better shot at saving their limbs. This system of transferring soldiers in terms of the care they need keeps a consistency in the entire process of getting these men and women home.

Source: Jaisel Noor, “The Untold Story of American Soldiers Wounded in Afghanistan,”
Real News, November 11, 2013, http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10977.

Student Researcher: Jessica Clark (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)