Returning home from a combat zone can present its own set of challenges. A veteran may wrestle with a mix of feelings—relief and joy perhaps tinged with guilt at having survived when others didn’t. Some might feel that they should still be with buddies who remain overseas. These emotions can be exacerbated when wounds, physical or mental, are involved. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have seen an increase in cases of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Military health-care providers and families are still learning new methods for dealing with these terrible byproducts of war.
While past issues of Proceedings have examined various aspects of military medicine such as the VA system or advances in prosthetics, this month we turn our focus to the so-called “hidden” wounds of war—those not visible on the surface but which may affect a veteran as he or she tries to reintegrate, either with their families or back into civilian careers. It will be no surprise that the theme of our stories on the topic is support: from peers, families, the military, and civilian organizations.