The Contra Costa library system set up a moving website featuring our veterans and their efforts to create a narrative around a potentially horrific experience: www.warink.org. This visibility of what people undergo when they are faced with war is key. To the general public, war can become faceless. We talk about the politics and the human rights and the religions, not always including the individual with family and career back home. It is necessary to support the troops even when we might not support the war.
Judith Herman, M.D., came out with a brilliant book recently: Trauma and Recovery: The aftermath of violence--from domestic abuse to political terror. She addresses the history of how people have classified affects of trauma, at times reducing it to a neurosis. She also examines the stages of recovery: establishing that first healing relationship (often with the therapist), creating physical and emotional safety, remembrance and mourning, and reconnecting to community. When faced with trauma, with horrors, trust in basic human goodness can be fractured. It takes time to trust again, to feel autonomous again, and process of remembrance and mourning requires a narrative.
After trauma, it is a journey to put words to an often fragmented, disturbed memory. The use of tattoo to tell the story sends a powerful visual message of the experience and can facilitate the process of remembering and mourning.
Today, please, check out: www.WarInk.org.