How would you describe combat to someone? 

I was assigned to an amphibious landing craft (APA) and our first mission was taking the Marines to Tarawa. It was a horrific battle. I could see the smoke on the beach from the quarter deck. We waited, prepared to support the Marines on the ground. We started pulling Marines to the ship, alive and dead. I’ve never seen such carnage. It became my duty to bury the dead ones at sea. We dressed the Marines in full dress uniform, covered their faces with a cloth, and wrapped them in canvas and sewed it up. We then took a door off its hinges and used it as a launch pad to place them in the water. We prayed as we sent them to their final resting place. It stuck with me then as it does now. Back then I decided to write down the longitude and latitude of each Marine buried so maybe, just maybe, we could send it to their families.

—World War II Veteran (personal communication, 2014)

The heat was unbearable and the quiet was deafening. We often sat for hours in a foxhole, just waiting. We started to stink from sweat and dirt. With the guys next to me, we became brothers, and when the fighting began, we’d protect each other. But it was hell to watch our brothers fall.

—Vietnam Veteran (personal communication, 2014)

It sucked. It just sucked. I loved helping the people over there when we could. And helping my fellow soldiers. We took care of each other. But, man, the crap I’ve seen would make your head spin. I was talking to my buddy when an IED blew his head off right in front of me. You never forget stuff like that.
—OIF/OEF Veteran (personal communication, 2014)

Do you really understand all that is involved in combat situations? In order to understand combat trauma and common reactions associated with combat trauma, you must first comprehend the nature of combat and what occurs when military personnel serve in war zones.

Throughout this course you will step into the lives of military veterans to best understand their experiences, stressors, and traumatic reactions to combat and combat duty and the military. You will return to the media several times throughout the course but view them through different lenses based on the topical area you are studying that week. For this week, listen to the stories of each military veteran or active duty personnel about combat, their combat duty, and some of their traumatic reactions. Critically reflect on the subject of combat and how it may affect active duty military personnel and veterans who serve in war zones. In addition, reflect on your own knowledge of combat, combat duty, or service in war zones. You may have your own military experience, know someone who has been in the military, or gather information from the media. Regardless of where you get your information, ponder on the notion of what combat is and what it entails besides the act of killing. Think also of the potential effects combat could produce.

Post your answer to the following question: 1. How would you describe combat to someone?

2. Based on the media, describe two stressors (exclude the act of killing) that may be associated with combat duty.

3. Finally, explain whether combat could produce beneficial effects to military personnel and defend your position.

Please note, this question is not about political positioning. It is an opportunity to view combat from a holistic perspective to understand the various experiences that veterans and military personnel have during their assigned duty. It also is not an attempt to minimize the horror of war.

Be sure to support your responses with specific references to the resources. If you are using additional articles, be sure to provide full APA-formatted citations for your references.


equired Readings

Dick, G. (2014). Social work practice with veterans. Washington, D.C.: NASW Press.
Chapter 2, “A Brief History of America’s Wars” (pp. 15-34)
Chapter 4, “The Role of the Social Worker” (pp. 47-60)

Rubin, A., Weiss, E.L., & Coll, J.E. (2013). Handbook of military social work. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Introduction (pp. xxiii-xxxi)
Chapter 1, “A Brief History of Social Work with the Military and Veterans” (pp. 3-20)

Pryce, J. G., Pryce, D. H., & Shakelford, K. K. (2012). The costs of courage: Combat stress, warriors, and family survival. Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
The costs of courage: Combat stress, warriors, and family survival (1st Ed.), by Pryce, J.G., Pryce, Col. D.H. & Shakleford, K.K. Copyright 2012 by Lyceum Books, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Lyceum Books, Inc., via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Chapter 1, “War and Its By-Products” (pp. 3–15)

Wellen, R. (2012, July 10). What vets are not talking about when they’re not talking about their war experiences. Foreign Policy in Focus. Retrieved from

Wood, M. D., Britt, T. W., Wright, K. M., Thomas, J. L., & Bliese, P. D. (2012). Benefit finding at war: A matter of time. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 25(3), 307–314.