War Fever

It used to be called ‘war fever.’ Now, it’s referred to as PTSD-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There was a time when there was no cure, only short-term relief. Today, that might be changing as war-stressed veterans have endured decades without answers, only symptoms. There is no chemical relief from this ailment but that hasn’t stopped thousands from trying every known form to throw at the problem. Addictions abound in this arena.

Science and psychology are merging in a new way to unlock the places that hold such trauma for these former soldiers. We still have soldiers alive from WWII. Few escaped the wrath of war fever at some point on their journeys. Every survivor from every war ever fought faces the same misrepresentation. We pull a section out of time, change all the rules about what it means to be a decent human being and then change the rules back and expect no backlash. War Fever is that backlash. One day killing is wrong. The next it is celebrated. The more the merrier is the motto of war. Genocide. Take the enemy out. Collateral damage is expected.

Top minds in the fields of science, physics and chemistry were utilized to create massive killings of our ‘enemies.’ Einstein uncovered technology that could very well end mankind’s walk on this planet. But no one has invented a mindset that humans can buy into and justify taking another’s life, much less many other lives. We are not programmed to destroy ourselves. Some (our soldiers) had to be taught that and their minds are burning up from the idea of it.

One soldier who flew with the Cottontails in World War II brought war fever back to Medina, Ohio, when he returned. He was my grandfather Ralph Warren Hisey. Shot down over Ploesti, Romania, he came upon a dead British soldier while hiding in the brush. He changed clothes and wore the uniform of that RAF (Royal Air Force) flyer to fool the Germans into thinking he was English. It worked until he was brought into the prison camp and his ‘boys’ yelled “Hisey, over here!”

Fast forward a couple of decades, and I wake up at dawn and look out to see my grandfather standing in the field. I thought he was waving at something so I went outside and stood at the fence. I realized he was throwing something.

He saw me and called me over and said that he stayed sane in the prison camp by practicing his pitch all night long, in the barracks, in the dark. “Hitler didn’t own this!,” he said as he pointed at his head. “The Nazis never owned my mind,” the soldier claimed. Over and over, he practiced his pitching form and did all his workout exercises on those cement floors until he got too weak.

When he returned to the U.S., he was a shadow of his former self and barely strong enough to work. His dream of playing professional baseball became a long, lost thought.

War fever took hold of him throughout the rest of his life. Nightmares of torture at the hands of the Nazis came to him randomly. A feeling of helplessness that he said he couldn’t describe would take over him. Sometimes, just the smell of cabbage brought it on. He fought the Germans in his mind for the rest of his life. They never set him free.

Now brand new ‘technology’ of sorts is being introduced through a combination of medication and a kind of guided meditation/talk therapy. Going back to the scene to re-experience the damage has been done for ages with mixed results. Going back in a controlled, but altered state, may retrieve better answers and resolution from the experience. This can only be done with a guide.

Our current fighting in far-off places is producing a new brand of PTSD that has resulted in additional loss of life. Back on U.S. soil, safe and in their homes, soldiers are still killing in the name of war. They are killing their immediate families as they awaken in fights for their lives.

Maybe the new techniques will bring relief and peace of mind to the generations of war veterans who live among us and will continue to do so for years to come.