Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is known as injuries that are associated with military combat and their life experiences. It is challenging for soldiers to get through the war, but how about after the war? Where do veterans belong after their homecoming? After the war’s aftermath, do soldiers recognize their families? Do they rejoin with their families and carry on with their previous everyday lives? Is it possible for the soldiers to survive after the end-war? These are some of the questions, Finkel and Homer discuss as they revisit the brave but mentally wounded men. It is unreasonable to assume soldiers get on with life as if nothing happened during their service. The world they once were comfortable in becoming alienated, and the soldiers have no one to turn to during hardship moments. These authors take us inside the inner and external lives of the veteran survivors as they face the realities of war. The country cannot forever ignore the ongoing problems of returning soldiers and their families. The essay will explore the comparison of the human cost of war and their homecoming, as portrayed by Finkel and Homer.
After the war, the military get plagues with violent impulses, memory loss, insomnia, nightmares, and guilt over the lost comrades in the battle. Finkel and Homer humanize the aftermath of military life. Their lives change, and as they change, their family members, wives, and children are bewildered by their homecoming because they have changed their personalities beyond all recognition. Soldiers’ hope of survival become treatment programs. Finkel uses his book to build a strong case to push society and nation to increase investments in veteran mental healthcare. Every soldier has a struggle of their own after returning to civilian life. It could be the reality of living with physical wounds, PTSD, spiraling suicide thoughts, or financial struggles as they cannot secure a job. War has hidden costs that veterans should not face on their own.
Shay uses the Odyssey to follow up on the story of soldiers in Vietnam returning home to show the difficulties that many veterans experience when going back to their civilian lives. Through the stories, the reader gets a deeper understanding of the experiences of combat veterans and their lives at home. Shay combines psychological work and soldiers’ interpretations with the idea of changing American military institutions. In Achilles in Vietnam, Jonathan Shay proves to know his history, hence becomes easier to analyze the return of the soldiers. The experiences these soldiers have as explained through Odysseus, Finkel uses survivors such as Adam. During the deployment of these soldiers, their home front seemed remote. They are distanced from their families in their homecoming.
Like all soldiers in combat, Finkel describes the psychological and physical ailments that several of the battalion’s survivors struggle with on their homecoming. Their world of return is dominated by essential loneliness, says Finkel. He also notes that every soldier deals with the homecoming and after-war consequences on their own. Homer, in The Odyssey, narrates on the temptations of the combat veterans to drown their sorrows in alcohol and drugs. The discussion between Hades and Odysseus is a description of the difficulty the veteran has as they remember the painful memories and guilt. The psychological distress that the legendary survivors are exhibited even today. Losing their comrades and coming to an unloving community lead to PTSD and depression for them.
It is true, most if not all, soldiers upon returning home suffer from PTSD symptoms. The combat experiences induce mental health problems hence suffering. Finkel, in his book, explores the psychological aftermath of war on the soldiers and families in Kansas. His description of PTSD involves physically traumatic events such as bombings on their journey. “Depression, anxiety, nightmares, memory problems, personality changes, suicidal thoughts: every war has its after-war,” He says. (Finkel). Shay’s Vietnam stories also focus on the psychological distress that Homer’s surviving heroes show today.
At the homecoming, most survivors struggle with suicidal thoughts, drugs, and alcohol addiction, depression, or maintaining a job. Adam Schumann, for example, after he returns from Iraq because of his impaired judgment, it becomes challenging for him to secure a job even with his capability of being a commissioned officer. Their feelings of guilt bother them, making their survival chances minimal. Finkel also focuses on survivor’s guilt, where soldiers who survived the traumatic events wished they died too. In the narrative, one surviving soldier on suicide attempts explains to Finkel that he struggles with the guilt of his treatment towards other people. Kansas soldiers are not the only ones suffering moral or guilt trauma. Shay also mentions veterans who suffer from survivor guilt upon remembering the lost comrades. These veterans are haunted by the memories of acts such as lack of combat experience that they believe are shameful. They are covered in guilt, which may become depressed as they indulge in drugs and alcohol abuse, become prone to lack of sleep, emotionally disconnected from their loved ones, experience unexpected weeping fits, insomniacs, unemployment, disrespect from others, and higher thoughts of committing suicides. An example with Odysseus, upon returning to Ithaca, he barely recognizes the place. For protection, he also takes someone’s identity and gets the disrespect. Odysseus poses as a beggar dressed in rags and is careful about revealing his identity even to the most loyal. Like many veterans, Odysseus describes his first nights at home as endangered, troubled, and uncomfortable. This illustration of his experiences at home happens to many other veterans. Their social horizons get shrunk by the time they go home, and it becomes hard to open up to other people. They also get destroyed at their return home even after winning the war.
One would think that home will become their solace, but it happens to be more tormenting and baffling than war experienced. Adam and Odysseus have almost the same challenges as wives, but they prove to be survivors. Finkel and Homer recognize the experiences and pain of the enduring wives of the soldier. Being away from the family does not guarantee the wife will wait for the husband, especially with the unexpected turn of events in their services. After his return from Iraq, Adam struggles with the relationship with his wife, Saskia. He wants to take back the responsibility of being a husband, provider, and father, which is a struggle to him, considering he has PTSD. On the other hand, for a decade with Odysseus gone, Penelope has been receiving suitors testing her and the loyalty of the household. Luckily, she is strong and loyal and, in the end, reunites with her husband. Most survivors find healing by sharing with their wives about the war. They are their confidant, and only the wives get entrusted with the information. The survivors can feel the hostility in the glares from the people. Anytime a survivor reunites with the family, their sanity and cool depends on the treatment that the people give. Odysseus is lucky to reunite with the wife, but not all soldiers return to a loving family. Damaged as they are from the war, some soldiers come home to find bewildered wives who have changed as they had to cope with their absence. Shay, as a doctor, understands the human heart and sees the reaction as normal for most people. He, however, explains that it is easy for the damaged soldier to cry over the war story because he can choose to close it, but it is harder to cry over real life and family “betrayal” because the book cannot be closed.
Besides the mental issues and rejection from families and communities, survivors have physical injuries from shooting. The scars make the soldiers struggle differently with their demons that might have developed during their service time. Millions of military men get injuries that affect their movement and sensation. Scars last forever; therefore, the physical wounds they haunt them for the rest of their lives.
The major lesson that the reader gets from Thank You for Your Service is that no matter the preparation and care soldiers get before the war and on their way back home, the war will always break them. Psychological crises are almost inevitable based on the incidences these soldiers experience; therefore, their families, community, and the nation have the responsibility of providing care to them. Every war has its consequences and reminders, and most likely create wounds mentally to American veterans. Shay, a doctor, draws upon Homer’s poems, The Iliad and The Odyssey, to compare his patients’ symptoms and causes of psychological distress to those of Homer’s heroes.
At the end of it, are Americans as a nation ready to reduce the psychological war costs to America’s heroes on their return? Schumann’s signs of healing are seen after visiting the “Trauma Group” program, where he gets the necessary help. The only hope for the soldiers is an understanding of family and nation because even the after-war war keeps threatening the progress of the survivors. It is recommendable to provide therapy programs for the heroes where they can interact with their comrades from previous year’s wars and guide them towards recovery.