When soldiers at Fort Carson were charged with a series of 14 murders, PTSD and other "invisible wounds of war" were thrown into the national spotlight. With these events as their starting point, Jean Scandlyn and Sarah Hautzinger argue for a new approach to combat stress and trauma, seeing them not just as individual medical pathologies but as fundamentally collective cultural phenomena. Their deep ethnographic research, including unusual access to affected soldiers at Fort Carson, also engaged an extended labyrinth of friends, family, communities, military culture, social services, bureaucracies, the media, and many other layers of society. Through this profound and moving book, they insist that invisible combat injuries are a social challenge demanding collective reconciliation with the post-9/11 wars.
"For decades now, and since the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular, one single term--posttraumatic stress disorder--has been given the massive task of describing the complex impacts of war on military servicemembers and the people who share their lives. But as Hautzinger and Scandlyn show, in narratives rendered with both care and urgency, those impacts often overspill the neat boundaries of mental illness, medical diagnosis, and acronyms that roll off the tongue. This book lets us know just how much is at stake for soldiers, veterans, military families, and civilians alike in the language, stories and categories we use to make sense of war."
--Kenneth T. MacLeish, Vanderbilt University, author of Making War at Fort Hood: Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community
"In this readable and engaging book, Scandlyn and Hautzinger use rich ethnography to push beyond a narrowly defined focus on PTSD and raise thoughtful questions about the needs of post-9/11 service members and their families and communities. The authors illuminate the complex impacts of war for a small city far away from the conflicts but central to the American war effort. It is common to talk about the "…ripple effects"… of war--how its moral, spiritual, psychological, political and economic consequences spread far beyond those most directly involved--but rare to provide such a careful and scholarly look at how that diffusion occurs. Hautzinger and Scandlyn have written an essential book for anyone seeking to better understand the true impact of the post-9/11 wars for American service members and society."--Erin Finley, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Anthropologists Hautziner (Colorado College) and Scandlyn (Univ. of Colorado, Denver) offer an important, well-written, and thoroughly research work regarding the culture of returning soldiers. The emphasis is on post-9/11, specifically focused on PTSD. … The major dichotomy is between PTSD (a mental condition, the legitimacy often challenged by fellow soldiers) and traumatic brain injury (physical and observable). Reentry involved counseling (military and civilian) and town hall meetings, among other efforts. The authors do not answer questions, but stimulate many. A profound work and must-read for scholars interested in the military. Summing Up: Essential."—J. Stanley, emeritus, Towson University
Part I: Coming Home
1. Lethal Warriors at Home
2. "Best Home Town in the Army"
3. Doing Dirty Work
4. PTSD = Pulling the Stigma Down
5. Decentering PTSD
Part II: The Supporting Cast
6. Codeswitching : "So, why do you have frostbite?"
7. "This is Our Playground": Family Readiness Groups
8. Waiting to Serve
9. Appropriate Accommodation, or Exceptionalism for Supercitizens?
10. "This Land is Not for Sale": Pinon Canyon and Army Expansionism
Part III: Dialogue
11. "You're Not a Victim, You're a Volunteer"
12. "Closing the Gaps": Seeking Civilian-Military Dialogue
13. "Clueless Civilians" and Others
14. The Day after Veterans Day: Listening to the Homefront
Conclusion: Toward a Collective Reckoning with the Post-9/11 Wars