When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home: How All of Us Can Help Veterans

Paula J. Caplan, MIT, $27.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-262-01554-7
It's a grim irony: too many American soldiers return from duty and fall into homelessness, addiction, and thoughts of suicide, yet their crazy behavior might just be the sanest response possible to the horrors of war. What's really crazy, says Harvard psychologist Caplan, is the belief that only a psychologist or psychiatrist can help these suffering souls. Caplan (The Myth of Women's Masochism) delivers a compelling argument that society has "psychiatrized" these vets' normal response to the horrors of war, with the result that many are not receiving effective care. Caplan depicts a military bureaucracy that sweeps vets into the overarching category of the mentally ill; she cites the case of one war-weary vet who became "more depressed about dealing with the [Veterans Administration] than anything that happened in Iraq." Helping, Caplan says, is as simple—and as difficult—as not turning away when vets speak of their experiences, but rather listening attentively and nonjudgmentally. Some readers may be impatient with Caplan's attacks on a "psychiatrized" society or her belief that listening to veterans will somehow bring an end to war, but she makes an important and welcome call for average citizens to take responsibility for our veterans. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/14/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 328 pages - 978-0-262-29556-7
Paperback - 358 pages - 978-1-5040-3676-4
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