This thread is dedicated to those men and women returning from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan (and wherever the war on terror may take them). We are not going to talk about the past here except where there are lessons to be learned from it; this is about how we treat returning soldiers NOW! This will hopefully be a thread where we can discuss such things as how to welcome them back, understanding the problems they face, and what we as Americans can do for those of them making the transition from military to civilian life. These wars are NOT Vietnam; there are similarities, and there are some key differences, and we need to explore those. There are some things common to all wars that make adjusting to coming home a challenge. All of us, vets and permanent civilians, whether we approve of a particular war or not, can be part of the solution for these men and women, or another contribution to their problems. We have a lot of young people coming home with injuries they would not have survived in earlier wars. Battlefield medicine and after care has improved so much that troops are surviving (especially with traumatic brain injuries)things that we still know little about the long term prognosis for. After the military and the VA have done all they can for these troops, many of them will be rejoining the rest of us;we need to find ways to help them do that, and to make sure none of them are forgotten, or cast aside. We know a lot more about the emotional injuries troops suffer in war, than we did right after Vietnam. One characteristic of modern counter insurgency warfare of the sort we fought in Vietnam, and the kind these kids are fighting today, is a high incidence of PTSD. Soldiers in active combat in Vietnam typically saw more days of actual combat in one tour, than most of their WW II counterparts saw in three years of war. That has only increased further since. In addition, while Vietnam vets usually served one combat tour and were done (repeat tours were voluntary), these troops have often seen two, three, or more combat deployments. This also applies to support personnel; there are few if any "safe areas" in an insurgency, and support personnel are often subject to the same stresses, dangers and emotional trauma as the combat infantryman of the past. I can tell you, having had PTSD myself, that it is no joke. It is insidious, can creep up on you long after the event(s) that caused it, and can results in complications ranging from drug/alcohol abuse, severe depression, violent outbursts, and sometimes homicide or suicide. It can destroy a veteran's life, and left untreated, it can even kill him/her, or someone else. What you say and how you respond to the vet with PTSD matters; you can do a lot of good, with caring, and a lot of harm, with a few thoughtless words. Those who have never served, especially, need to remember that soldiers are first and foremost, people; people who have done a difficult and sometimes terrible and frightening job under difficult circumstances, but people, just the same. They are NOT objects for your scorn, targets for your anti-war sentiments, ornaments for you to put on a pedestal or idolize, or scrap to be tossed aside and forgotten when their fighting is done; they are people. They don't want your pity, they do want your understanding; they don't expect a lot of gratitude; a simple thank you is quite enough; they want to be treated with the same decency, respect and consideration you'd treat a friend with. The killing and other unpleasant aspects of what soldiers have to do in war is a very personal thing. Every individual reacts to it differently. I can tell you from experience that most vets, most of the time, really don't want to talk about it much, if at all. If they want to talk about what they have seen and done, they will let you know. Even if you think you are being supportive, DO NOT ask things like "How many terrorists did you kill?" or "Did you enjoy killing those*********". If they want to tell you how they feel, they will; otherwise, that's none of your business. Now, let's discuss.