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Fields of Combat: Understanding PTSD among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work)

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For many of the 1.6 million U.S. service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the trip home is only the beginning of a longer journey. Many undergo an awkward period of readjustment to civilian life after long deployments. Some veterans may find themselves drinking too much, unable to sleep or waking from unspeakable dreams, lashing out at friends an For many of the 1.6 million U.S. service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the trip home is only the beginning of a longer journey. Many undergo an awkward period of readjustment to civilian life after long deployments. Some veterans may find themselves drinking too much, unable to sleep or waking from unspeakable dreams, lashing out at friends and loved ones. Over time, some will struggle so profoundly that they eventually are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD). Both heartbreaking and hopeful, Fields of Combat tells the story of how American veterans and their families navigate the return home. Following a group of veterans and their their personal stories of war, trauma, and recovery, Erin P. Finley illustrates the devastating impact PTSD can have on veterans and their families. Finley sensitively explores issues of substance abuse, failed relationships, domestic violence, and even suicide and also challenges popular ideas of PTSD as incurable and permanently debilitating. Drawing on rich, often searing ethnographic material, Finley examines the cultural, political, and historical influences that shape individual experiences of PTSD and how its sufferers are perceived by the military, medical personnel, and society at large. Despite widespread media coverage and public controversy over the military's response to wounded and traumatized service members, debate continues over how best to provide treatment and compensation for service-related disabilities. Meanwhile, new and highly effective treatments are revolutionizing how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides trauma care, redefining the way PTSD itself is understood in the process. Carefully and compassionately untangling each of these conflicts, Fields of Combat reveals the very real implications they have for veterans living with PTSD and offers recommendations to improve how we care for this vulnerable but resilient population.


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For many of the 1.6 million U.S. service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the trip home is only the beginning of a longer journey. Many undergo an awkward period of readjustment to civilian life after long deployments. Some veterans may find themselves drinking too much, unable to sleep or waking from unspeakable dreams, lashing out at friends an For many of the 1.6 million U.S. service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the trip home is only the beginning of a longer journey. Many undergo an awkward period of readjustment to civilian life after long deployments. Some veterans may find themselves drinking too much, unable to sleep or waking from unspeakable dreams, lashing out at friends and loved ones. Over time, some will struggle so profoundly that they eventually are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress Disorder (PTSD). Both heartbreaking and hopeful, Fields of Combat tells the story of how American veterans and their families navigate the return home. Following a group of veterans and their their personal stories of war, trauma, and recovery, Erin P. Finley illustrates the devastating impact PTSD can have on veterans and their families. Finley sensitively explores issues of substance abuse, failed relationships, domestic violence, and even suicide and also challenges popular ideas of PTSD as incurable and permanently debilitating. Drawing on rich, often searing ethnographic material, Finley examines the cultural, political, and historical influences that shape individual experiences of PTSD and how its sufferers are perceived by the military, medical personnel, and society at large. Despite widespread media coverage and public controversy over the military's response to wounded and traumatized service members, debate continues over how best to provide treatment and compensation for service-related disabilities. Meanwhile, new and highly effective treatments are revolutionizing how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides trauma care, redefining the way PTSD itself is understood in the process. Carefully and compassionately untangling each of these conflicts, Fields of Combat reveals the very real implications they have for veterans living with PTSD and offers recommendations to improve how we care for this vulnerable but resilient population.

30 review for Fields of Combat: Understanding PTSD among Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    A handful of interesting summations, but reads more like an opinion piece or social commentary than it does a practical guidebook or in-depth look at causes and treatments. Just not what I was expecting.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Steve Woods

    This book offers a completely different approach to PTSd than others I have read and it is an exceptionally valuable piece of work. It is an ethnography, providing details of the experiences of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. though it all rings true for Vietnam veterans as well. This is a complicated and often confused field. There are, as there have always been competing demands of the military, the politicians, the veterans and the society at large from which they are drawn. What This book offers a completely different approach to PTSd than others I have read and it is an exceptionally valuable piece of work. It is an ethnography, providing details of the experiences of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. though it all rings true for Vietnam veterans as well. This is a complicated and often confused field. There are, as there have always been competing demands of the military, the politicians, the veterans and the society at large from which they are drawn. What we do with the broken soldiers of whom we ask so much, has been an emotionally charged see saw since the days of the Civil War in America and probably WW1 in Australia. Once the drum bashing and teeth gnashing are done the politicians and bureaucrats involved with veterans' care tend to be more than obsessed with issues of costs and containing them than with the needs of the veterans no matter what they may say. The public at large tends to be apathetic or oblivious, that is except on days of national commemoration or unless some scandal about veterans hits the press. As happened in the US around delays with critical care. Clinicians are divided on how to proceed and veterans are often just left dangling. The rewrite of the DSM has meant that the waters of combat related ptsd have been muddied by a surge of new claims that often relate to other issues not necessarily related to service. This confuses not only society's perception of service personnel suffering from ptsd but critically derails the development of effective treatment. The situation in Australia is far worse than that in the US. Confusion reigns supreme and the privatisation of medical services for veterans has meant the dissipation of expertise and a general fall in the quality of treatment. Notwithstanding those problems the profession seems stuck in the frameworks developed in the 1980's none of which were very effective and the principle of "you're broken it may get a little better but all you can do is manage the condition and live with it!" My own experience has proven this approach to be both lazy and criminally negligent. The direction towards Buddhist psychology as a guiding treatment principle is a light at the end of the tunnel but the general ignorance and lack of professionalism of many hospital staff involved in treatment in Australia just continues to lock veterans into their suffering and sustains it. The quality of their lives blighted by over medication and the want to collect the cash from a Government too slack to meet its obligations. This whole area needs a revolution. About the only way I can see that happening is if veterans themselves train and become the professional staff serving their fellows. A great academic work, very readable and enlightening to me. It certainly firmed up many of my own views and placed much of my personal experience into perspectives I just didn't have. Should be required reading for anyone working in the field

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

    Accessible, strong overview of combat PTSD. Definitely from an anthropologist, so you're looking at a lot of bigger picture systemic, historical, and cultural understanding and responses, but she also delves into some of the personal experiences and treatment. As a psychologist, I was hoping for a bit more of the latter. Worth reading if it's a topic of interest. Accessible, strong overview of combat PTSD. Definitely from an anthropologist, so you're looking at a lot of bigger picture systemic, historical, and cultural understanding and responses, but she also delves into some of the personal experiences and treatment. As a psychologist, I was hoping for a bit more of the latter. Worth reading if it's a topic of interest.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    At the end of the book a point really hit me: Combat is less likely to break a woman's mind than sexual assault. Sexual violation is more likely to harm the mind than physical violence. This takes me back to the Evil Hours, where David J. Morris says natural disasters are much less likely to result in PTSD than war because we accept them as natural. War is more personal, and so perhaps sexual assault is the most personal. I'm inspired to do what I can to foster optimal peace and respect for the At the end of the book a point really hit me: Combat is less likely to break a woman's mind than sexual assault. Sexual violation is more likely to harm the mind than physical violence. This takes me back to the Evil Hours, where David J. Morris says natural disasters are much less likely to result in PTSD than war because we accept them as natural. War is more personal, and so perhaps sexual assault is the most personal. I'm inspired to do what I can to foster optimal peace and respect for the human body by books like this.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Linda S Lewis

    Very helpful perspective on PTSD I read this a few years ago when I was about to start working at a VA hospital. I just finished rereading it now with a few years of experience with the VA. It will certainly help to steer anyone with an interest in PTSD in the right direction.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    A rather interesting review of PTSD, how it develops, what to do about it, and how to prevent it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Steven yamazaki

    glad i read it.very eye opening. decided to just because i'm working on an enlistment with the Marines.gave me some valuable insight on the reality of war. glad i read it.very eye opening. decided to just because i'm working on an enlistment with the Marines.gave me some valuable insight on the reality of war.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    Informative read. Great blend of the empirical, historical and clinical....gives knowldge and perspctive to the struggles and the current issues.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Curtis

  10. 5 out of 5

    Luisa Garcia

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carly

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brandy

  16. 5 out of 5

    Christine Berry

  17. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  19. 5 out of 5

    Collin Reeve

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jen Slack

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine

  22. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elena Papathanassiou

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruce E Bailey

  26. 4 out of 5

    Timothy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kimber L. Hendrix

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Marc Sana

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