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
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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