Aired Tuesday February 24th, 2009 at 9:00 pm on KUED HD Ch. 7.1
As the War in Iraq continues, the first measures of its psychological toll are coming in. A medical study estimates that more than one in seven returning veterans are expected to suffer from major depression, anxiety, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
For those who have survived the fighting, the battle is not over. For some, the return home can be as painful as war itself. On Tuesday, February 24, at 9 p.m. on KUED-Channel 7, FRONTLINE presents "The Soldier's Heart," which tells the stories of soldiers who have come home haunted by their experiences and asks whether the government is doing enough to help.
Combat psychological disorders among returning soldiers date back to the Civil War, when the phrase "soldier's heart" was first coined. Throughout the years, and through many wars, the name for the condition changed to "shell shock," "battle fatigue" and "post-Vietnam syndrome."
After a decade of research, psychiatrists determined that all the various names were describing the same reaction to combat. Today, it's commonly referred to as post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The fear of being labeled a "coward" keeps many soldiers from seeking help.
According to Colonel Thomas Burke, the director of health policy for the Department of Defense, nobody returns from combat unchanged. "They have expectations about what their families are going to be like. Their families have expectations of what they're going to be like," says Burke. "And the one thing that is absolutely true about all of those expectations is all of them are going to be wrong."
Originally planned to air in this time slot was FRONTLINE's "Ten Trillion and Counting," which has been moved to Tuesday, March 24, so that FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk can bring viewers the latest developments in the current budget crisis.
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