100 years ago, on November 11, 1918, World War I finally came to an end. Armistice Day, later changed to Veterans Day in the US, is a day of remembrance for the veterans of War. The consequences of World War I included the deaths of 16 million people, consisting of both soldiers and civilians. A lesser talked about consequence of World War I and war, in general, is “Shell Shock”, today it is known more commonly as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
“Shell Shock” and PTSD have been described in history by many other terms, including “thousand-yard stare”, “nostalgia”, “soldier’s heart” and “war neurosis.” More recently, PTSD has also been under the name of “battle fatigue” or “combat stress reaction.”
The term Shell Shock was first mentioned by that name in a British medical journal in 1915. Initially, it was thought to be a physical injury to the brain from nearby explosions, but in 1916 the symptoms were recognized in soldiers who had not been near a significant blast. It is now understood to be both a physical or mental injury from war or another traumatizing experience.
The description of symptoms of shell shock can be found in documents dating back to 400BC. Herodotus documented one soldier going blind from fright and another in a state of panic after a friend was lost in a war.
Going even further back in history to the Bible, a description can be found of being fearful and fainthearted in war.
“…Hear, O Israel, you approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be you terrified because of them;” Deuteronomy 20:3
PTSD is a human reaction to trauma and extreme fear. From the Bible to Herodotus and up to the present day, extreme fear manifests in a physical and/or a mental reaction. Symptoms include trembling, headache, tinnitus, poor concentration, confusion, sleep disorders and loss of memory. PTSD also manifests as feelings of suffocation, being upset by sudden noise, visualizations of horrors seen in war or trauma, feeling the terror of heavy fire, easily angered and the potential to engage in a reckless or self-destructive behavior.
Reckless of Self-Destructive Behavior
Veterans who make it home are overlooked victims of the very wars they went to fight. The mental trauma from the war sometimes doesn’t even start until they make it home. They are far from the war, yet they are not out of the war. No one around them sees it. That is unless they are the few who “engage in reckless or self-destructive behavior”, they snap. Is everyone with PTSD going to “snap?” No. But can PTSD be associated with those who have committed some of the recent mass shootings?
In the first eleven months of 2018, there have been eleven mass shootings. Of those, two were committed by veterans of the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In 2017 there were also eleven mass shootings, two by veterans of wars. PTSD is a mental disability caused by extreme trauma such as war. Mass shootings are not committed by mentally stable people.
Soldiers are not the only ones with PTSD. Many traumatizing events can cause PTSD of varying degrees. A severe injury or death of a close family member, violent sexual assaults and natural disasters have also been linked to PTSD. A violent world and culture leads to more violence.
“Wickedness proceeds from the wicked…” 1 Samuel 24:13
Could those who committed the rest of the mass shootings also have suffered from PTSD? Did they experience a trauma of some kind that caused them to carry out such a destructive behavior?
After a mass shooting, there is an immediate outcry for greater gun control. But instead of focusing the discussion on the weapon, ask why is a person trying to kill people in the first place? What is at the root of this reckless and self-destructive behavior?
Consequences of War
World War I ended in 1918, yet since then, millions more have been killed in the wars. So what did World War I do? It didn’t end all future wars. It wasn’t the “war to end all wars”, and neither was the next one or the next one. There is much more going on with what seems to be a never-ending culture of war and violence.
There are no acceptable consequences of war. From the innocent civilians to the soldiers with PTSD, all are victims.
God Bless America?
Step back from the soldiers and look at the leaders directing the wars. They increase the military budget year after year, while at the same time spouting “God Bless America” at every opportunity.
Will God bless a violent nation? If God was blessing America, why would we need to fight in wars and own so many guns?
God hates war and those who promote it, profit from it and send millions to die in it. The consequence of war is a curse from God, not a blessing. It is the reason God destroyed the earth the first time.
“The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.” Genesis 6:11-13
Consequence of War for the War Leaders
Those who have put millions in harm’s way and caused civilians and soldiers alike to be terrorized to the point of “shell shock” or PTSD are not in the clear. There will come a time when “men’s hearts will fail them out of fear.” But this will not be the fear of war between men, it will be the fear of God. How appropriate that those who have caused men’s hearts to fail from fear of the wars of men, will, in fact, have their own hearts fail from the fear of God.
“For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled… Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” Luke 21:22-26
“For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as you have done, it shall be done unto you: your reward shall return upon your own head.” Obadiah 15