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ReachOut Blog


Guest Post: Veterans Day - Invisible Wounds Of War, History Of PTSD


by Meredith

Only The Strong

Today we have another guest post from our editorial intern Cheryl Slayton. Don’t miss Cheryl’s bio at the end of the post!

“Changed stranger in a strange country.” In six words, one soldier communicates the emotional complexity of his wartime experience. While trauma is something many of us experience at some point in our lives, for an elite few, trauma is endured in the high-risk environment of combat, removed from the support of family, friends and the comforts of home.  Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, affects 35% of today’s soldiers who return from war to find that, in some ways, their battle has just begun.

Shell shock.  Combat fatigue.  Hysteria.  Whatever you call it, the effects of the battle field extend beyond physical wounds.  Many soldiers return from war with anxiety disorders like insomnia, agoraphobia or depression and an inability to communicate the extent of their grief to family and friends.  “Wartorn,” an HBO documentary which airs tonight, examines the ways in which these “invisible wounds of war” affect soldiers and their families. Through personal stories of veterans who have suffered from PTSD and interviews with top military personnel, conducted by James Gandolfini of The Soprano’s fame, “Wartorn” surveys the effects of PTSD through 150 years America’s military history.

In another effort to give veterans a voice, SMITH Magazine is teaming up with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to share reflective stories of returning soldiers in a format called “six-word memoirs.”   These bite-sized testimonies demonstrate a wide range of wartime perspectives, some lighthearted, some gut-wrenching and some resigned.  Also, “The Off-Duty Battle”, one of ReachOut’s many stories of real-life struggles, details a soldier’s experiences with the lingering pain of combat injury and employment difficulties after returning home from war.

Finally, our friends at the JED Foundation and MTV also have a great program reaching out to vets on campus as part of their Half Of Us campaign.

Image by familymwr

Have you or someone you know suffered from PTSD? How did you, or they, get through it?  What we can do as a nation to support the mental and emotional health of our returning troops?

Cheryl Slayton was born in Orlando, Florida, and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from The University of North Texas.  She was a high school English teacher in Texas before making her way west, to her new home of San Francisco.  Cheryl now spends her time freelance writing for newspapers and magazines and serving as an editorial intern at  She values excellence in all things and appreciates people who challenge her to see the world through a new point of view.  In her spare time, Cheryl expresses her creativity through writing fiction and various forms of dance.



  • avatar2

    Reply - Quote


    PTSD affect people who aren’t in the military, too. PTSD is simply devastating and very hard to explain this type of internal suffering to others who have never experienced it. I truly hope that if a friend/family member tells you that they are dealing with this horrific affliction, that you will REACH OUT to them 1-3 times a week. No matter what they say…they need everyone’s support during this difficult time. The PTSD sufferer’s credo becomes the same as AA: ‘One Day at a Time’. Most days, though, ONE day will/can feel like a WEEK. It’s overwhelming and thoroughly exhausting… =(

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