The Combat Veteran & PTSD was written by my friend Francis Resta. He was a WWII combat veteran — was in Europe and Japan. The book is easy to read– conversational. It felt like I was having a solid chat with my friend– it is comforting to know that I have some of Francis’s language here to sit quietly with whenever I might want to listen to him.
Much of the book reiterated our conversations on the radio as well as off the air. Francis was an anti-war, anti-gun, anti-military veteran who was one of the few people I’ve known who can say with experience that war is never worth the cost. Francis reaffirmed my perspectives on many things — especially the importance and value of children.
In the book, Francis breaks down different aspects of how the combat veteran develops an angry personality that may not have always been there, and how the military reinforces anger and violence in soldiers such that they are forever changed. When they return to society, they feel left out and isolated– like they are from another dimension, because they are. Francis describes living as two people at the same time– the one in civilian society, and the one at war. We learn in detail how soldiers were left on their own to make decisions within their smaller groups, which contributed to their violence, rape and pillage of Europe over WWII as well as the kind of destruction that continues to take place in wars throughout the world today. Coming back to ‘civil society’ combat veterans can no longer take what they want, sleep wherever and whenever they are tired, and should engage in proper hygiene.
Francis explains how PTSD manifests in the veteran and what the symptoms are. I think many of us are familiar with the general idea, so I will not go into detail here. Francis talked about his PTSD openly and the book encourages all of us to accept and invite veterans into our lives despite their condition. He reminds us that our own tax dollars pay for the production of such traumatized individuals.
Francis mentions homeless and starving children in the book, as well as the impacts of PTSD in the combat veteran on children and the family. While it took him a long time to find the words and admit his faults in his own personal life, I think this book represents not only a great exhibition into the mind of a combat veteran but also the battle cry for how our own trauma, sadness and loss impacts the people around us. Combat veterans reverberate trauma and carry stories of horror we will never know, hopefully.
The book is a bit dated, but we also are informed about lots of resources available to the veteran for help with PTSD among other things.
This short book is worth reading if you’d like to learn about the mind of a combat veteran from the perspective of one who was on the front lines of the Battle on the Rhine.