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Trauma and Memory in War Literature

             Department of Veterans Affairs, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder affects over 31 percent of Vietnam veterans and 11 percent of veterans from the war in Afghanistan. Soldiers in the war are not only fighting for their country, but for their lives. Going through something traumatic can be hard to deal with, let alone discuss, so people often find their own ways to get through it. In After Action Report by Phil Klay, the main character, Timhead, runs away from his problems and expects others to help him get through them. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien showed how the soldiers looked to each other for comfort in the traumatic situations they had to face in the war and used humor as a way to cope. In God Bless America by John O. Killens, it shows the trauma that the main character, Joe, has to endure by leaving his family behind but also uses humor as way to cover up his true emotions. .
             Timhead's character in After Action Report is afraid to handle traumatic situations on his own and tries to run away from them by shutting down and give them to someone other than himself to handle. In the beginning of this short story, Timhead shoots and kills a 12 year old boy during a firefight. His partner, Ozzie, lets the older soldiers believe that he was the one who fired the killing shot. Timhead then asks Ozzie "Can we keep it that way?", with Ozzie responding "Sure. I'll tell everyone I did it"(34). This specific passage showed me that Ozzie was already helping Timhead with running away from his problems, and didn't even realize it. After the killing, other soldiers took the event as something to be proud of and didn't think much of it. As Ozzie narrates, he describes how they both felt; "We didn't want to talk to anybody else. I got on my PSP, played Grand Theft Auto and Timhead pulled out his Nintendo DS and played Pokemon Diamond"(35). Being away from home can be difficult for anyone, and these two used their games as a friendly reminder of what home is.

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