Friday, May 15, 2009
# Posted 10:39 AM by Patrick Porter
To 1st Sgt. Stanton Brown of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, watching a performance of the play last week in a bar on an Army post, the plight of Ajax is a story from his own life: In January, he lost his best friend, a man under his command, to suicide two months after their return from Iraq. It was the dead soldier’s third deployment in five years. Like Ajax, Brown says, “he had been so stressed for so long.”
There is a clue to why these tragedies are so appealing:
About three-quarters of soldiers who have post-traumatic stress have not sought help for it, fearing it will hurt their military career, he says. In some ways, seeking help is counter to Army training, he says. “We’re taught self-sacrifice,” Engel says. “It’s a value. Part of self-sacrifice means you learn to ignore your own needs at times.
In other words, the plays show that the soldier’s psychic distress is not the symptom of an unmanly modern condition, but is an old affliction that happens to warriors across time. For those who worry that naming the problem will hurt their careers, Ajax names it for them. Like the best tragedies, it is not about solving problems but about facing them. The insipid and therapeutic language of our time, of ‘closure’ and ‘moving forward’, doesn’t do the job nearly as well.
So big congratulations to Bryan Doerries and Respect-Mil for helping soldiers so intelligently.
Cross-posted at Kings of War. (2) opinions -- Add your opinion
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