During World War II, it was called shell shock. During the Vietnam War it was called the Vietnam Syndrome. It wasn't until 1980 that psychologists had an official term for the condition: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
With the recognition of PTSD as a psychological condition, large-scale studies of the disorder began, said Dr. Rumi Kato Price, professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine.
"Now we have very well established evidence-based treatments for PTSD," said Price. "That took three decades (to develop)."
Price is doing a presentation Tuesday on the evolution of scientific understanding of psychological injuries between Vietnam and Afghanistan. She is currently researching the effectiveness of the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program in the Missouri National Guard.
Colonel Gary Gilmore and Sergeant First Class Lora Finn both work with the Missouri National Guard's Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and are participants in Price's research. The Yellow Ribbon Program aids reservists before, during and after deployment.
"Deployment does change a person just by the mere fact that you go," said Colonel Gary Gilmore. He is state chaplain of the Missouri National Guard. "There's a baseline of issues that touches every home, every family, every soldier, every extended family."
"It takes a full year to feel comfortable and adjust," said SFC Lora Finn. She is the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Missouri National Guard's Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. "It takes a long time to adjust and realize you don't have to sleep with your weapon."
"Reunion is an event but reintegration is a process," said Gilmore. "And it does take time."
Both Finn and Gilmore talked about the instinct to look for your weapon after returning from a war zone. Finn was deployed to Kuwait and Gilmore was deployed to Iraq from 2007 to 2008.
The Yellow Ribbon Program is one example of the military's greater emphasis on providing resources to returning soldiers. They provide counseling and guidance on everything from finance to family care. The Missouri National Guard Yellow Ribbon Program can be reached at 573-638-9691. For those not in the national guard, resources can be found by calling Military One Source at 1-800-342-9647.
Academy of Science of St. Louis Presents:
"When Soldiers Come Home: The Science of War Injuries from Vietnam to Afghanistan"
Tuesday, August 20, 2013 from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Missouri History Museum's Lee Auditorium
For more information, call 314-533-8083 or visit the Academy of Science of St. Louis website.