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Emotional Aftermath of the Persian Gulf War

Veterans, Families, Communities, and Nations

Edited by Robert J. Ursano, M.D., and Ann E. Norwood, M.D.

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-652-1
  • Item #8652

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Emotional Aftermath of the Persian Gulf War explores the impact of war from a unique perspective—it addresses not only the effect of trauma on soldiers in combat but also the toll war takes on families and communities as a whole. In this book, experts from the Department of Defense (including Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense, who provides the preface), the Veterans Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, Israel Defense Forces, and academia provide an integrated look at the psychiatric and psychological effects of war and the treatment of war-related stress and psychiatric disorders.

The authors focus on the experience of servicemembers and of their families in response to deployment, separation, and loss, and reintegration after the war. They discuss the treatment of combat casualties, those with and without psychiatric illness, who were rapidly returned home still in the acute stage of their injuries. The authors emphasize providing the best support, both medically and psychologically, for military personnel and their families for the essential mental health and effectiveness of the fighting force and the improved quality of life of individual people. The special needs of families and of reserve and guard members are considered, and models of community outreach programs for coping with the stressors of war are discussed.

Unique in terms of the role that technology played—including live TV coverage, Patriot missiles, and smart bombs—the Gulf War was a part of the day-to-day lives of the fighting forces and their families, communities, and nations.


  • Introduction.

    The Gulf War.

    Stressors of the Persian Gulf War.

    War and homecomings: the stressors of war and of returning from war. Psychiatric responses to war trauma. The effects of war and parental deployment upon children and adolescents. Chemical and biological weapons: silent agents of terror. The threat and fear of missile attack: Israelis in the Gulf War.

    Preparation for the War.

    Those left behind: military families. From citizen to soldier: mobilization of reservists. Deployment from Europe: the family perspective. Preparation for psychiatric casualties in the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical System. Deployment stress and Operation Desert Shield: preparation for the war. Family notification and survivor assistance: thinking the unthinkable.

    Treatment and Management of the Effects of War.

    The problems of listening. Return, readjustment, and reintegration: the three R's of family reunion. The care of those returned: psychiatric illnesses of war. Psychiatric intervention with medical and surgical patients of war. The prisoner of war. From soldier to civilian: acute adjustment patterns of returned Persian Gulf veterans. Treatment of veterans severely impaired by posttraumatic stress disorder.


    The effects of war on veterans, families, communities and nations: summary. Index.

About the Authors

Robert J. Ursano, M.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, School of Medicine. He is Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), Chair of the APA Committee on Psychiatric Aspects of Disaster, and member of the American College of Psychiatrists. Dr. Ursano has authored over 100 publications on the effects of trauma, war, and disaster.

Ann E. Norwood, M.D., is Assistant Professor and Assistant Chairperson, Department of Psychiatry, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, School of Medicine. She is a member of the APA Committee on Psychiatric Aspects of Disaster. She coordinated training of physicians and health care providers for returning veterans of Operation Desert Storm (ODS) and their families, served on the Department of Defense ODS ReviewCommittee. Dr. Norwood has authored numerous publications and monographs on the effects of war and disasters.

They have provided a contribution to the literature that expands our awareness of the multidimensional psychological effects of war. I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the topic of the effects of war.—The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

[T]his book is worth buying and reading from beginning to end for any psychiatrist who has been to war or who has or will have patients affected by war.—Psychiatric Times

This readable and well-prepared book informs mental health providers but should also be of interest to those who are intrigued by the emotional impact of volatile national issues and their broader implications. In part, the sociocultural and emotional health of a nation has correlations with public policy. This unique volume succeeds in showing us the connection.—Journal of American Medical Association

Drs. Ursano and Norwood have created a unique and outstanding addition to the trauma literature. Through this excellent volume, they significantly expand our understanding of the traumatic effects of war on soldiers, families, communities, and nations. . . . Clinicians and others who are in the positions of responsibility for the evaluation and treatment of individuals exposed to war and other man-made disasters must read this unique book.—Michael G. Wise, M.D., F.A.C.P., Colonel, U.S.A.F., M.C. (retired), Clinical Consultant to the U.S.A.F. Surgeon General, Clinical Prof of Psychiatry, LA State Univ Scl of Med, Tulane Univ Scl of Med

This thorough presentation of various traumatic aspects of the Gulf War is a much-needed analysis of problems related to people involved in modern, international warfare. Focusing on the individual soldiers and their support groups, it fills a gap in the current literature, and provides a number of ground-breaking perspectives. . . . Although specifically focusing on the American soldier, this pioneering work is relevant to soldiers all over the world and the people who care about them. Very timely!—Las Weisaeth, M.D., Ph.D., Professor, University of Oslo, Director of the Division of Disaster Psychiatry, Joint Medical Services, Defense Headquarters, Norway

Drs. Ursano and Norwood should be congratulated for this outstanding work. They have made a major contribution to the mental health field's understanding of the important concepts related to the management of stress-related disorders.—Robert E. Hales, M.D., M.B.A., Professor and Vice-Chair, Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine and Medical Center

As a collection of reviews by mental health professionals expert in the psychiatric syndromes that derive from armed conflict, this volume offers clinical insight and experience to those working in posttraumatic stress and related disorders. . . . the editors have produced an informed, useful book that follows the ancient goal of medicine: to heal.—Psychosomatics

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