We publish here two poems about the war in Iraq by Peter Yeomans. Peter is a pioneering Veterans Administration psychologist with a successful methodology for treating moral injury.
One steamy night, the summer of 1969, at Marble Mt. Air Base near Da Nang in Viet Nam, a rocket exploded near me and I died. There was screaming, explosions, dust, smoke, chaos; I had no torn flesh, no blood in the dust, but I died.
My flesh did not die but I had shattered. In death, I became a ghost. In life, a shadow. The ghost dominated the shadow. That domination has meant self-destructive behavior, an obsession with suicide and suicide attempts. Self destruction. Who, what is self? My body? My heart? My spirit? I had to destroy all that might be self. I had to destroy self completely, my complete self, even though there was no complete me.
A free seminar by Dr. Edward Tick. May 14, 2021
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Moral Injury have proven to be of epidemic proportions in our military and veteran populations but very difficult to treat. Healing efforts must not merely strive for symptom reduction and control but match the transformed inner worlds, life experiences and values of the survivors, provide corrective experiences that counteract the traumas, and offer a life and growth path consistent with military service. Our training day will present Dr. Tick’s proven “Soldier’s Heart” holistic and psycho-spiritual-communal model for the understanding and practices that bring true healing, homecoming and transformation to our military and veterans.
- Be able to present relevant lessons from world warrior traditions.
- Understand the sacred and moral dimensions of military service and warriorhood.
- Gain a holistic understanding of Post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Understand and be able to apply the concept of soul wounding to PTSD and Moral Injury.
- Understand and be able to report the Necessities of Warrior Return.
- Understand the Soldier’s Heart Transformational Model and Path of Homecoming and apply it to direct work with veterans.
- Understand the concept of Moral Injury and be able to offer strategies for Healing and Recovery.
- Understand and apply the concept of restoring the warrior archetype.
Scott Hutchinson has been a Pastor in the United Church of Christ for the last 30 years. Scott’s formal education includes professional degrees in Divinity, Counseling and Human Relations, and Social Work. Prior to full time ministry, Scott was a counseling professional. Scott’s areas of focus and expertise include forgiveness, trauma healing, and peace education. Scott is co-founder of Touchstone Veterans Outreach and of the COMPASS Healing Circle. He has experience in two war zones as a noncombatant.
Glen Miller is adjunct professor, Fox School of Business, Temple University. He teaches Business Ethics and a course in Leadership. Glen served as a Ranger Team Leader in Vietnam from 1969 – 1970. Glen lead two Ranger Teams into Cambodia at the beginning of the invasion, May 1, 1970.
More than forty years after combat and warzone peace-building, the authors helped form a group that is creating space and place for healing from war wounds to the soul. The organizing leaders called the group Touchstone Veterans Outreach. They talked and mused and connected with others that were interested in the mystery of war healing. In short, they did not turn away but towards the pain wrapped and sealed within the bodies and souls of veterans…
Stories and poems of close encounters in war
Close encounters in war are, before anything else, life experiences that change in depth those who make them. As editors of the Close Encounters in War Journal, we have always been aware of this simple but basic fact and therefore decided to open the third issue of the journal (2020) to creative writing. We wanted to propose an experimental encounter between scholarly research and forms of creative and non-fictional writing whose roots go deep into experience and imagination.
After that exciting experience, being aware that stories and poems of close encounters in war deserve a place of their own in the website, we are happy to announce the launch of the new section “Stories and poems of close encounters in war“.
This new section of the journal is divided into three subsections (Poetry, Fiction, and Testimonies and Autobiographical Essays) and is meant to be a space for creativity and exploration of all those forms of writing that help us understand war more thoroughly as a multifaceted and complex experience. We invite storytellers, veterans, practitioners, relatives and friends of veterans, poets, therapists, and much more to feel free to submit their contributions to the CEIWJ. We will be happy and grateful to read year round your original and unpublished works about your encounters in and with war, real and imagined. We will select and publish the best, more insightful, and inspiring contributions.
We are delighted to announce that issue n. 3 (2020) devoted to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as Aftermath of Close Encounters in War is online.
The full issue and single contributions can be downloaded as PDF here:
Nuto Revelli Foundation – Thursday 17 December 2020, 18 pm.
Live streaming on Zoom and Facebook
On Thursday 17 December, the book Il paese dimenticato. Nuto Revelli e la crisi dell’Italia contadina will be presented online on Zoom, in collaboration with the Nuto Revelli Foundation.
This volume analyses, through Revelli’s published works, interviews, and unpublished archival sources, how he contributed to the national debate about Italy’s industrial revolution, during the 1960s and 1970s.
Nuto Revelli (Cuneo 1919-2004) fought in WW2 as a Second Lieutenant in the Italian Alpine Corps on the Russian front (August 1942 – January 1943). His unit was deployed on the river Don, and as the Red Army broke through the defensive lines of the Axis, Revelli took part in the catastrophic retreat through the steppe in early 1943. As he made it back home, he struggled with PTSD, until the Fascist regime was overturned in July. As Italy exited the war on 8 September 1943, Revelli instinctively decided to leave his hometown and to hide in the mountains, where he founded his first partisan group. After a few months of stalemate, he joined a politically organised partisan group led by two eminent members of the secret antifascist party “Giustizia e Libertà”: Duccio Galimberti and Dante Livio Bianco.
The latter was a lawyer who befriended Revelli and introduced him to a politically aware form of antifascism. Revelli had been an enthusiastic supporter of fascism as a young boy. Only after his disastrous military experience in Russia, he had begun to think critically about Mussolini’s failures. Through the defeat in Russia, Revelli realised that fascism had caused Italy to fall into chaos by deceiving the Italians with its propaganda. His revolt, however, remained for many months instinctive and politically unaware. Only the encounter with Dante Livio Bianco stirred up Revelli’s malcontent and will to revenge, orienting it toward mature political awareness.
The antifascist party “Giustizia e Libertà” was established on principles such as moral intransigence and individual responsibility. The members of this party aimed to educate the youth on ethics and they argued claimed that Italy should become a republican democracy. Revelli poured everything in his partisan experience and was also seriously injured in September 1944, when he had a motorcycle accident that disfigured him.
The partisan war and antifascist education helped Revelli overcome his PTSD. After the war, he became a writer with the two personal narratives Mai tardi (1946, about his war in Russia); and La guerra dei poveri (1962, on his partisan experience). In the 1960s, though, he understood that war testimonies were mostly written by former officers, educated individuals, who had attended school and were used to reading and writing. Privates, who constituted the bulk of the Italian troops and were in large part uneducated and often even illiterate, had not published but very few memoirs. Their war experience remained, for the time being, vastly unknown and neglected by public opinion. Revelli thus found out that the war continued to inflict harm and to kill still many years after its end.
Revelli became an anthropologist and oral historian as he started collecting oral interviews of former Italian soldiers who had fought in Russia. He realised that the Italian post-war society had no interest in listening to the stories of these wrecked men, who often endured PTSD and other physical and spiritual injuries. Many of them were poor peasants, who, after the conflict, came back to a country that they could hardly recognise. In the meantime, Italy had gone under a thorough socio-economic transformation. Since the early 1950s, Italy started its industrial revolution, especially in the northern regions; and manpower was massively drained from the fields, in particular from the most fragile areas of the country, in the South as well as in the North.
Revelli saluted the fact that industrialisation introduced and spread new forms of well-being. Many peasants employed in factories began to collect more solid salaries that helped their families slowly emerge from poverty. However, this revolution imposed its toll. Peasants from the poorer agricultural areas had to decide if either to leave their land and move to the industrial cities in the North industrial workers; or to keep working in the fields part-time, alternating this job with shifts in the factories.
The reason for such a dramatic situation was due to the international political context in which Italy’s industrialisation unfolded. On the one hand, the American Marshall Plan aimed to transform the agricultural economies in the poorer countries (like Italy) into industrialised economic activities. As a consequence, the first accords of the European Economic Community in the 1950s designed the agricultural development strategies in terms of very competitive liberalism. That meant that those areas where agriculture was thriving received economic and technical support to grow faster and stronger into industrial establishments. The poor rural areas, though, did not receive the same support, so their population was forced to move to the cities and to transform quickly into industrial manpower. Quite cruelly, rural economists used to say, still in the 1960s, that the archaic rural economy had to become extinct through depopulation.
Unfortunately, not everyone was able to leave their fields and homes and move to the cities. Many elderly peasants had made sacrifices to buy their fields and homes and now were too old to become factory workers. Moreover, a relevant number of those peasants were WW2 veterans struggling with PTSD and chronic diseases. Peasant women in these rural areas were mostly illiterate too. In the 1950s, the Italian peasant culture still rested on ancient traditions including rigid religiousness and superstition. That culture exploited children as workers and confined women in the house under harsh conditions of ignorance and hard physical labour.
Revelli felt indignation as he discovered this concealed world existing almost unnoticed just outside his hometown. A few kilometres beyond the wealthy agricultural establishments in the plains, the rural world that showed itself on the hills and mountains was comparable to a medieval society. Revelli did not accept that the national political and economic agenda could leave these people to their extinction, just because they would not adapt to the new model of economic growth.
He devoted four books to the people of the archaic rural areas of his region, Piedmont: La strada del davai (1966, forty interviews with veterans from the Russian front and captivity – translated into English as Mussolini’s Death March); L’ultimo fronte. Lettere di soldati dispersi o caduti nella seconda guerra mondiale (1971, collecting about 1300 letters from KIA or MIA Italian soldiers); Il mondo dei vinti. Testimonianze di vita contadina (1977, over 200 oral testimonies from elderly peasants); and L’anello forte. La donna. Storie di vita contadina (1985, more than 200 oral interviews with female peasants).
Nuto Revelli today represents one important critical voice insofar as he reminds us that no one should be left behind in the name of economic growth. No well-being is such if it can be benefited only by the happy few to the detriment of the others.
Submission deadline for Issue n. 3 (2020): “Close Encounters in War and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”
In consideration of the impact of the current health emergency on the work of many scholars and colleagues, the editors of Close Encounters in War Journal have decided to extend the deadline for the 3rd issue of the journal: we invite the submission of articles of 6000-8000 words (endnotes included, bibliographical references not included in word-count: please see submission guidelines at https://closeencountersinwar.org/instruction-for-authors-submissions/) in English by 20th June 2020 (although we can allow a certain flexibility) by e.mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Decisions will be made by mid-July 2020, and the selected articles will undergo a process of double-blind peer-review. The authors invited to publish will have to submit their fully revised articles by 1st November 2020.
Call for fiction on the theme “PTSD and Close Encounters in War”
Close Encounters in War Journal (www.closeencountersinwar.org) is a peer-reviewed journal aimed at studying war as a human experience, through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches ranging from the Humanities to the Social Sciences. The third issue (n. 3) of the journal will be thematic and dedicated to the experience of PTSD as a consequence of war and conflict, and titled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as Aftermath of Close Encounters in War”.
In connection with the publication of Issue n. 3, the website www.closeencountersinwar.org will host a brand new section devoted to fiction. We therefore invite authors to submit unpublished short stories (between 2500 and 5000 words) and flash-fiction (up to 500 words) on the topic of conflict-related PTSD. We accept stories in English, typed in Times 12, and double-spaced. Please submit by 31st March 2020 to email@example.com. Please send doc, rtf, or odt files only. Please bear in mind that the CEIWJ is an independent project run by volunteers and that we cannot pay for your stories. Submission is free of charge and each author can submit only one story. Copyright for short stories and flash-fiction remains with the authors. We can accept multiple submissions (but please inform us immediately in case your story is accepted for publication elsewhere). Please write your full name, email address, title of the work, and word-count on the first page of your stories. Make sure that you mention in your email whether you wish to apply for the section “short stories” or “flash-fiction” when you submit.
We will publish your stories on our website in autumn 2020. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of reading your work!
Call for articles
Close Encounters in War Journal is a peer-reviewed journal aimed at studying war as a human experience, through interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches ranging from the Humanities to the Social Sciences. The third issue (n. 3) of the journal will be thematic and dedicated to the experience of PTSD as a consequence of war and conflict, and titled “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as Aftermath of Close Encounters in War”.
Wars in general are cultural phenomena, among the most ancient and deeply rooted aspects of human cultural evolution: investigating their meaning, by reflecting on the ways we experience wars and conflicts as human beings is therefore essential. Conflict is deeply intertwined with language, culture, instincts, passions, behavioural patterns and with the human ability to represent concepts aesthetically. The concept of “encounter” is therefore fundamental as it involves experience, and as a consequence it implies that war can shape and develop our minds and affect our behaviour by questioning habits and values, prejudices and views of the world.
The notion of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was first introduced in the early 1980s by the American Psychiatric Association in order to describe a psychiatric condition occurring to people who have been involved in traumatic events as victims or witnesses. Although PTSD is not exclusively related to war and conflict, in common imagery it is mostly connected with veterans, with particular insistence on those who served in the American and British Forces deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last few decades. Military personnel, civilians, NGO operators, journalists, and displaced people are equally exposed to PTSD as an aftermath of being involved in war. Over the most recent years, figures have grown, demonstrating that PTSD remains a major factor of the negative impact of war on society, together with environmental destruction, human and economic loss.
The label PTSD has replaced, in the field of combat-related conditions, previous definitions that were aimed at describing the psychiatric and bodily state of distress of combatants who, despite not being physically injured, were nonetheless unable to keep serving and needed medical assistance. Although scholars have attempted to date back PTSD to ancient warfare, even Greek, the first attempt to clinically define the state was made during the Napoleonic wars. The state of shock in which soldiers were left by passing-by cannonballs was called vent du boulet, or “cannonball wind”. During the American Civil War, the state of combat-related mental distress was called “soldier’s heart” and during the Great War the label was changed into “shell shock”, although the condition was not limited to casualties of explosions. During WWII the more generic definitions of “war neurosis”, “combat fatigue”, and “operational fatigue” spread in the English-speaking psychiatry, while German and Russian doctors coined their own formulas to describe one same phenomenon shared by thousands of combatants (and civilians as well): a state of confusion and hyperarousal, amnesia, dullness, with outbursts of rage and fear, hyperkinesis and tremors that could appear immediately as well as after months from the trauma and persisted as an impairing condition.
Nowadays, combat-related PTSD is addressed by national medical institutions (military and civilian) as a major cause of social distress, suicide, violence, antisocial behaviour, depression, and addiction to substances among a relevant number of veterans, with a significant negative impact on the quality of life of families and relatives, not to mention the deterioration of life-expectancy for the veterans themselves. The main fields of study in which PTSD is addressed today are neuropsychiatry and cognitive psychology with thousands of publications, while the Arts and Humanities have so far provided a modest contribution to the understanding of the topic. Historical research has largely focused on WWI and “shell shock” and the number of scholars (especially in the US and the UK) who study PTSD in connection with the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan is growing. Sound interdisciplinary research is still wanted and a broad spectrum of disciplinary fields have not yet been covered in the framework of PTSD-studies.
Issue n. 3 of CEIWJ will aim to investigate the theme of close encounters in connection to the experience of PTSD by exploring its facets both on a micro-scale, by studying individual testimonies and experiences, and on a theoretical and critical basis throughout history. CEIWJ encourages interdisciplinary approaches and the dialogue among different scientific fields. We therefore welcome articles on conflict-related PTSD that frame the topic within the context of close encounters in war from the perspective of Aesthetics, Anthropology, Arts, Classics, Cognitive Science, Ethics, History, Linguistics, Politics, Psychology, Sociology, and other disciplines relevant for the investigation of the topic.
We invite articles which analyse the experience of PTSD from ancient to modern and contemporary periods, from the perspective of the encounter, reaching beyond the study of military tactics and strategy and focusing on the way human beings ‘encounter’ each other with and within the experience of PTSD. Contributions are invited to promote discussion and scholarly research from established scholars, early-career researchers, and from practitioners who have encountered conflict-related PTSD in the course of their activities.
The topics that can be investigated include but are not limited to:
- Violence and trauma
- Cultural, ethical, social, political, and psychological response to conflict-related PTSD
- PTSD and colonial wars, civil wars, international conflicts
- War captivity and other forms of deportation
- War crimes, ethnic cleansing, gendered violence
- Representations of otherness, race, and gender
- Cognitive aspects of conflict-related PTSD
- Testimonies, personal narratives
- PTSD in the arts
- Oral history and memory studies
The editors of Close Encounters in War Journal invite the submission of articles of 6000-8000 words (endnotes included, bibliographical references not included in word-count: please see submission guidelines https://closeencountersinwar.org/instruction-for-authors-submissions/) in English by 20th June 2020 (although we are willing to allow a certain flexibility) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Decisions will be made by mid-July 2020, and the selected articles will undergo a process of double-blind peer-review. The authors invited to publish will have to submit their fully revised articles by 1st November 2020.
 Helen King, Recovering Hysteria from History: Herodotus and the First Case of “Shell-Shock”, in Contemporary Approaches to the Science of Hysteria. Clinical and Theoretical Perspectives, ed. by Peter Halligan, Christopher Bass and John Marshall, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001, pp. 36-48.
 Marc-Antoine Crocq and Louis Crocq, From Shell Shock and War Neurosis to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A History of Psychotraumatology, «Clinical research», 2, 1 (2000): 47-55 (p. 48).