REINTEGRATING OUR VETS: EXPLORING SOLUTIONS TOGETHER

dr-kenneth-hierschJuly 20, 2012 – Dr. Kenneth Hirsch of the Department of Veteran Affairs Pacific Islands Healthcare System drew a record crowd, 71 participants!   Dr. Hirsch explained that many adjustment difficulties and disorders our Vets experience upon return are actually survival skills in combat.  The following are examples of combat survival behaviors that overwhelm Vets upon their return: hyper-vigilance, suspiciousness, hyper-arousal (ready to act at all times), light sleeping, “stuffing” affect except for anger, attention to detail (safety depends upon it), discipline for survival, and combat driving (protect your peers and yourself).  Dr. Hirsch, a Vet himself, explained how Vets who have experienced combat views things and respond to things very differently from you and I – fear that a trash can is may contain explosives, fear of contents backpacks on the floor of classrooms may be dangerous, constantly being on guard as their experience of the “enemy” could have been anyone regardless of their appearance or clothing, the urgency of driving dangerously for protection, watching carefully as they drive under a bridge on the freeway in fear of a sniper.