08 July 2012

Social Support

On Killing by LtCol Dave Grossman, 2009, Excerpts

In study after study two factors show up again and again as critical to the magnitude of the post-traumatic response. First and more obvious is the intensity of the initial trauma. The second and less obvious but absolutely vital factor is the nature of the social support structure available to the traumatized individual.

The social support system – or lack thereof- upon returning from combat is a critical factor in the veteran’s psychological health. Indeed, social support after war has been demonstrated to be more crucial than even the intensity of combat experienced. Psychiatric casualties increase greatly when the soldier feels isolated.

The honors and decorations that are traditionally heaped upon military leaders at all levels are vitally important for their mental health in the years that follow. These decorations, medals, mentions in dispatches, and other forms of recognition represent a powerful affirmation from the leader’s society, telling them that he did well, he did the right thing, and no one blames him for the lives lost in doing his duty.

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