Soldier's Heart

Original art and stories from veterans

Renaissance Vets
Posting Access:
All Members , Moderated
Today, we call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Before that, troops came home with Vietnam Syndrome.
Three wars earlier, we had Battle Fatigue or Shell Shock.
But in more poetic times, there was Soldier’s Heart.

Art. Support. Community.

Welcome to soldiers_heart, a place for veterans and family members to come together in the spirit of support and self-expression. Lurkers are welcome, but participation is what makes a community.

The moderator, pdx42, does not moderate heavily, but will not tolerate spam, flames, drive-bys, or spite. Please observe general courtesy of LJ-land: put long posts, large images, or potentially controversial images behind a cut. Additionally, since this is a community for vets, many with PTSD, please warn people if it is something potentially distressing or that might be a trigger.

What is Soldier's Heart?
In the era of the United States Civil War, the most barbaric modern conflict up to that time, veterans returning home were often said to have “soldier’s heart”. Unstable emotions, frequently spurred by guilt, led to withdrawal from their families and from life. Their concerned loved ones needed a way to frame this condition that changed the men they knew before the war. Somehow, the expression “soldier’s heart” became commonplace. As with the Twentieth Century ailment of tennis elbow, soldier’s heart is a condition that comes from over-exertion. In this case, emotional over-exertion.

Then, as now, returning warriors lived with a combination of anger, horror, guilt, fear, and ingrained survival instinct that would not go away. For many, the only relief to be found was in a bottle. For others, solace could only be found in death. Suicide. Terminal Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Soldier’s Heart.

Over the years, with changing societal views of war, of warriors, and of psychiatry, the name given to soldier’s heart has changed as well. During World War I, with its trench warfare, advanced field artillery and the introduction of tanks as weapons, “Shell Shock” seemed the appropriate name to describe the soldier and his “thousand yard stare”. World War II saw protracted campaigns with troops commonly serving through years of one battle after another: day after day of killing and dying from one island to another, or one hilltop to the next, leading many to suffer from “Battle Fatigue”. It wasn’t until several years after the Vietnam War that the military, the Veterans Administration, the medical community and society saw that whenever people endure any trauma (this is not limited to combat), physical and mental residue is left behind after the trauma is gone. Thus, today we have “"Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”.

Whatever the name, and whatever the conflict, combat-related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects a large number of military veterans. From the current US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is estimated that as many as 35% of the 1.2 million US servicemembers who have cycled through the region are already exhibiting signs of PTSD, an illness known for its tendency to lay dormant for years or decades.