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May 28, 2013 > Invisible Wounds of War

Invisible Wounds of War

Submitted By Shubhangi Vaidya

Indian Business and Professional Women (www.ibpw.net) and India Community Center (ICC) in affiliation with Silicon Valley Reads (www.siliconvalleyreads.org) hosted its tenth annual book reading event at ICC (www.indiacc.org) on March 17th, 2013. Under the relevant theme of "Invisible Wounds of War", the event featured a mother's true story of her son at war, depicted in the book Minefields of the Heart by author, Sue Diaz.

Sue read a chapter from the book after the initial introduction by moderator Jana McBurney Lin and psychiatrist, Dr. Rukhsana Khan who were both on the discussion panel. She wanted to emphasize that her book was as much of a family story- about letting go of our children and respecting the choices of our loved ones- as it was about a war story. The emotional upheaval that she experienced due to her son's decision to serve the country could be best expressed by writing the everyday stories as they happened; "writing is a form of art-a best tool to share feelings and it is universal to all humans" Sue said, in her response to why she decided to start writing workshops as emotional outlets for traumatized individuals.

Sue talked about how a family routine is disrupted and subjected to depression by a member serving on the war front. A normal unexpected door bell can give shivers at the thought of bad news, a trip to the grocery store is put off to avoid running into acquaintances or an innocuous and polite inquiry from a neighbor could make you angry and sentimental.

Jana thought that Sue had brilliantly introduced a lighter side to the otherwise heavy subject by writing letters to her son via his pet turtle, SpongeBob. Sue agreed that she could convey her deeper fears and emotions as a friendly pet far better than a worried mom.

Rukhsana, a well established psychiatrist at the VA gave enlightening and informative insight on the psyche of veterans. She pointed out the differences between WWII, Korean War and Iraq war veterans and talked about how their needs and healing process is varied. Soldiers often have a mental block and cannot recollect certain trauma-inducing memories which are very essential in order to heal them. At times, such hurdles need to be overcome by trying creative treatment; a simple odor or a certain touch could trigger the surface of those buried fragments of memory from the mind.

The audience participated in the discussion with a sincere concern and a wide range of intriguing questions for the panelist. This event was an educating process and brought home more awareness on how war leaves indelible scars on those who serve our nation. We as a community need to think about the after-effects of war on our veterans and their families. This discussion was a successful attempt to encourage dialogue about the community's responsibility to those who serve on our behalf as they return home to resume and rebuild their lives.

Diaz concluded the discussion reiterating that for many combat veterans, "coming home is a journey that can last a lifetime."

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