The chaplain turns to god: Negotiating posttraumaticstress disorder in the american military

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


In the spring of 2007, I sat down at a café in San Antonio, Texas, to talk with a recently retired army officer, whom I will call Chaplain Matthew. He had spent much ofthe early Iraq war in Baghdad, offering spiritual guidance and counseling to American service members there. He said that many of the U.S. soldiers then fighting in Iraq were raised onafter-school reruns of the 1970s show The Brady Bunch, with its mild portrayal of suburban family life, and that this was the kind of an ideal world they were expecting when they went to Iraq and faced the consequences of war for the first time. He reported finding that war brings about “a loss of innocence.” He mused a little further about American apple pie optimism before asking, rather sharply, “But does that make ’em PTSD?”The fact that Chaplain Matthew felt in a position to ask this question is, at base, the subject of this chapter, which briefly examines how posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been actively negotiated and contested among service members, chaplains, and mental health care providers in the U.S. military. In framing this discussion, it helps to take a step back and consider the history of PTSD itself and how it has traditionally been approached inthe scholarly literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGenocide and Mass Violence
Subtitle of host publicationMemory, Symptom, and Recovery
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781107706859
ISBN (Print)9781107069541
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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