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Impact of Wars on Military Society: The Soldiers and their Families Essay

Wars have been part of human history. What shaped the society that is perceived in this time is a result of conflicts and rivalries that occurred in the past. In almost all places on earth, the scars of war and of battle continue to be seen and commemorated. People are divided in this concept of war. For some, it is a way of life and a means of achieving peace and promoting security in the homeland. For some, it is a conflict of opposing forces where nobody wins, but rather, results into crises and extreme loss of life. Publicists have various definitions on war.

According to a book entitled, “On War” written by General Carl Von Clausewitz, war is simply defined as nothing but a duel between two opposing forces but in an extreme scale. It is a struggle between two sides, whose aim is to apply physical force and compel the opponent to surrender and submit, as well as render him unable to engage in further resistance. It is an act of violence towards another in order to fulfill one’s will (2008). Basically, in war, there is violence. Thus, there is always the possibility of death to even an immense scale.

In times of war, a lot of elements are affected such the economy, security, the family, and most importantly, the soldiers themselves. During World War II, there were seemingly immeasurable number of deaths both from the allied forces and the axis powers. The event shook the world and created chaos in various countries around the world. Economies crumbled and government policies were disorganized. In the military society, a large number of soldiers were lost that left their families with trauma to even psychological disorders.

This paper discusses these impacts of war on the military society, particularly on the soldiers themselves, as well as their families. Because of the advancement in technology and the increasing lethalness of military weapons, a posing threat emerges for individuals who are deployed in warfare. The environment has become more aggressive. The Effect of War on Soldiers In every war, the most proximate effects are felt by the soldiers. The disorder now called as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder had its roots in World War II. Back then the condition was referred to as battle fatigue.

Although cases of the condition were already reported ever since the Civil War, the occurrences were very minimal because of the conflict was waged within the soldiers’ own country. Other than that, the weapons used during that time were not as sophisticated as the weapons in the 21st century. During the First World War, this condition was also evident when the Germans introduced “gas” warfare. However, it was only during the Second World War that information regarding this condition was widely known (Chermol, 9). During World War II, the most common condition was the mild and non disabling battle fatigue.

During initial combat operations, dramatic but transient battle fatigue was eminent. More intense cases were referred to as “Old Sergeant’s Syndrome” which includes physical and psychological burnout that lasted months after combat (10). For the marines and the aviators, the symptoms of battle fatigue they experienced consisted of increased emotionality, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and exaggerated startled response to sudden movements or noises along with some physical complaints (10). Post Traumatic Stress Disorder became the most common disorder in the military since after its recognition.

In a report by the Washington Post dated May 27, 2008, the number of cases for PTSD jumped dramatically to 50 percent in 2007 on US troops. This is because of the military buildup that existed in Iraq and the high level of violence in Afghanistan. According to the report, around 40, 000 troops were already diagnosed with the condition since the year 2003. In a statement, the officials said that there may be more because some military personnel simply refuse to reveal their condition. According to experts, many troops suffer from the symptoms of PTSD, particularly on stress.

These include nightmares and flashbacks. They stated that these symptoms can be cured if the treatment is early (Jelinek). PTSD, along with other mental conditions was prevalent in military personnel. In the United States, PTSD was common among military personnel because of longer exposures to combat. In the recent years, as supported by the news article of Washington Post, the number of cases increased because of the increased military activity the country is involved in. The government has been involved in almost all wars since after WWII.

Such wars include the Korean War, Vietnam War, the Gulf War, War on Afghanistan, and in Iraq. Soldiers had more combat exposures and some were even sent to two consecutive campaigns. The result is more soldiers deployed in hostile areas and longer combat exposure, increasing the risk of psychological and mental disorders. In an article written by Christine Liddell and Jennifer Kemp in the book “The Psychological effects of war and violence on children”, they pointed out that the effects of war does not necessarily mean that the soldiers have to be adults.

The majority of armed conflicts since the 1970s have happened in the African continent. In most of these conflicts, the effects on children have not yet been documented. The situation in these areas is serious because of the fact that the armed conflict in Africa, children and the youth has found themselves in the front line and participates in the struggle (Leavitt). The only thing that may protect soldiers from experiencing stress leading to psychological disorders while in the front line is hardiness.

Paul T. Bartone of the U. S Military Academy at West Point, New York conducted a study on hardiness being a protection against war-related stress in the army reserve forces. After the Cold War, the number of military personnel has slowly decreased, putting great importance on reserve and National Guard units in the United States. The study explored the personality hardiness as a potential protection among army reserve personnel mobilized for the Persian war. Results of regression analysis showed that hardiness interacted with both combat-related stress and stressful life events.

The results suggested that hardiness protects against the negative effects of stress. The study produced a number of implications for military personnel that encounter various types of stress such as battle fatigue and separation from their families (Bartone). On Military Families For every soldier that is deployed in the battle field, there is a family that is separated and also suffers from the effects of war. War results into families without fathers or mothers, husbands or wives.

The family that is left behind also suffers certain conditions caused by situations such as separation or death of the soldier in battle. To some families, it leads to cases of divorce and marital conflicts. This section discusses the conditions that families of military personnel are experiencing because of war. Evidence suggesting these problems are provided by the study conducted by Joshua Angrist and John Johnson regarding the effects of work-related absences on families during the Gulf War. They used data from the 1992 Survey of Officers and enlisted personnel.

They estimated the divorce rates, spousal employment, and children disability rates caused by the Gulf War. The results of the showed that there were no significant increase in the disability rates in the children of the deployed soldiers. For male soldiers, the deployment of female soldiers resulted to a significant increase in divorce rates and marital dissolutions. This suggests that the deployment of female soldiers causes a strain on marriages (Angrist). In the study, the results also suggested that the husband’s work supply is not affected by the deployment of the wives in war.

The extended hours given to soldiers put stress on family relationships and create conflicts between husbands and wives regarding child and house care. These conditions increase the possibility for marital dissolutions that could affect the emotional and psychological well-being of the children. These effects are further supported by the study of Ernest Burgees on the effects of war on the American family. The impact of war upon the family can clearly be observed. These effects are significant in the ongoing process of family life.

The observable effects of war include the withdrawal o f men from civilian and entering the military, resulting in to an increase in socially disapproved forms of behaviors. This entrance to the military by the male civilians forces the females to seek employment and enter the industry in order to replace the men that were enlisted in the armed forces. Thus, children begin to be neglected, increasing the number of cases of juvenile delinquency, changes in marriage, divorce, and high birth rates.

More serious effects of war on the American family include the increasing trend towards the companionship type of family. It also raised the status of women as a more powerful force that gives support to the family since they engage in industrial jobs that make up for the absence of their husbands. Thus, parents begin to lose their function in the family, especially in their responsibilities towards their children. This resulted to the increase in the number of nursery schools for rearing and tending the needs of children in the preschool age and the extension of government interventions for family security.

The family, therefore, experiences a significant shift from being an institution to becoming a companionship type of relationship (Burgees). The number of cases on juvenile delinquency is also one of the impacts of war on military families. In countries such as Canada and England, there has been a 40 to 50 percent increase in the number of youth related violence compared with the pre war years. In the United States, this situation is also manifested in Chicago and in Los Angeles where number of youth crimes have been increasing.

This suggests that the effects are caused by the absence of a father, older brother, older sister, or mother figure in the family set up because of their deployment in the military or because of the need to work (344). The family shifts from the institutional to the companionship type because of the increasing number of fathers that are deployed in the military. The companionship type family is more modern since it is a contrast of the institutional, patriarchal type. Family members are no longer subordinates but are now free to engage in self-expression, since this type stresses the interpersonal basis of modern matrimony (347).

Even wives of military personnel are exposed to psychological and mental disorders as much as their husbands who are at the front lines. In a study, the effects of combat trauma were investigated. The implications of combat-induced psychopathology were examined. The conditions investigated were wartime combat stress reaction (CSR) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The results showed that in a sample of 205 wives of Israeli combat veterans of the 1982 Lebanon war, both CSR and PTSD were associated with increased psychiatric symptoms manifested.

PTSD was found to contribute to the wives’ social impairment in a number of contests such as feelings of loneliness, impaired marital and family relations, which extends to a wider range of their social networks (Solomon, et al. ). Hardships in the Modern Military Society In a report prepared by Kari Huus of MSNBC, the condition of American soldiers were revealed through testimonies given by families and other persons about the extended time of deployment given to enlisted personnel.

According to the report, the U. S military has stretched thin its military personnel after more than four years in Iraq and six years in Afghanistan. During this time, military personnel were repeatedly deployed in the warzone with decreasing dwell times between their postings have reached its toll on the families and loved ones of the personnel. Families are beginning to feel exhausted and stressed because of the separation that has been happening more frequently. Anxiety is also one of the problems experienced by families who are always waiting for phone calls from their loved one.

According to one testimony by a wife of a soldier, she experiences fears of the worst kind as she imagines what if the calls would stop. The possibility that this would happen is when someone in the company has been killed and all phone lines are to be cut off until the closest kin to the dead personnel has been notified. The prolonged conflicts involved with the United States has forced it army to repeatedly deploy soldiers in the warzone. According to military experts, this sort of scenario was never intended to reach this level.

As a result, soldiers begin to experience hallucinations and different psychological disorders which lead some military personnel to take their own life. The children of military fathers also suffer since they seem to sense a number of changes in their fathers after they have gone home after their deployment (Huus). Conclusions As stated in the previous pages, war is basically a duel between two opposing forces in order to resolve a conflict. The only difference is that war is being done in a massive scale.

The consequences of this conflict are manifested in the lives of the members of the military society, particularly on the soldiers and their families. The impact of war on the soldiers consists of psychological and mental difficulties such as battle, fatigue, depression, and posttraumatic stress disorder. These conditions tend to endure in their lives even after the war, which can cause disturbances in other aspects of their lives, most especially on their families. As much what the soldiers are suffering, families left behind by soldiers also suffer emotional and psychological difficulties.

Marital relationships have the potential to encounter problems and children also suffer from the absence of their father, mother, or older sibling, brought about by war. The studies and other literature in this paper suggest that the introduction of new interventions regarding troop deployment should be sought, as well as securing the emotional and psychological well-being of soldiers and families, while many still question the significance of war on the development of the society.


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