Sebastian Junger Knows Why Soldiers Have a Hard Time Coming Home

WIB culture June 11, 2016 0

U.S. Air Force illustration The civilian world fails at building lasting bonds by MATTHEW GAULT As the United States approaches its 15th straight year at war,...
U.S. Air Force illustration

The civilian world fails at building lasting bonds

by MATTHEW GAULT

As the United States approaches its 15th straight year at war, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder have risen to record highs.

But there are no simple explanations for the cause. American soldiers are less likely to engage in combat than their fathers and grandfathers. There is some evidence suggesting that highly-trained soldiers with intense and repeated combat experiences — such as Airborne troops in World War II — develop PTSD at lower rates than their less-experienced counterparts.

According to author and journalist Sebastian Junger, we can’t simply look to combat as the driving force behind PTSD. Humans evolved to fight, and we’re good at it. We’re even more effective when organized in platoons: small, tightly-knit groups of soldiers who share a deep sense of comradery, loyalty and purpose.

Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

In his new book Tribe, Junger argues that soldiers return from war to a society where people are far less trusting — and far more isolated — than inside the tribal, micro-society of a combat infantry unit. The latter organization may be psychologically sounder, despite the extreme danger, than the atomized reality of modern America.

This week on War College, I sit down Junger — also the author of War and The Perfect Storm— to talk about his new book and why so many veterans have problems adjusting to civilian life.

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