10 years on in Iraq, the toll and torment of PTSD

“Shock & Awe”. Baghdad, Iraq, March 2003.

Hi everyone,

Ten years ago today, it was a Wednesday evening I will never forget. I was filled with anxiety and dread throughout the evening, attending an event in Santa Monica where Gore Vidal was promoting his recently released book, “Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta”.  Headed home afterward, south on the 405 sitting in the passenger seat, there it was, my worst fears confirmed.

The radio’s news announced the U.S. had begun a military assault in Iraq.  We were officially at war… again.  I stared in the direction of the ocean, transfixed on the night-lighted landscape of refineries and began to cry.  I pictured the view as if explosions were occurring here locally and I felt throughout my being the extreme and horrific destruction and loss of life about to occur far away.

Ten years later, I still feel the deep sorrow of that moment, and the decade of tragedies that unfolded day after day, to this very day.

When a war ends, then what?

The roads, bridges and buildings get re-built. But how does an entire society recover from the heartbreak, devastating loss, and the Post-Traumatic Stress that holds them imprisoned in the past, even when they desperately want to move forward?  PTSD symptoms often rule the lives of people that don’t know what PTSD is, and often stigma prevails so even the limited resources available for help are not sought out.

And often it doesn’t end there. Substance abuse takes over. Tempers flare. Domestic violence increases. Children get neglected and abused. For many reasons, unresolved trauma is trans-generational.

(caution: this clip includes graphic descriptions and imagery)

We can’t afford to ignore the implications of these ill-attended to invisible epidemics. The paradigm needs to change.

Last December, we completed research to assess how many refugees living in San Diego are suffering from post-trauma symptoms.  We will send an update soon about the results and the next phase of our project to launch a Trauma Recovery Program for this high-risk, vulnerable community.  We are going to need your help to make it happen.


Barbara English
Executive Director, Living Ubuntu
(949) 891-2005

[Ubuntu] n.
Every human being truly becomes a human by means of relationships with other human beings.


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