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— This Month —
COS vs PTSD
When Propaganda Becomes Acceptable
Is It Possible For
Propaganda To Be Innocent?
- - - - -
Our Association is a not-for-profit fraternal
organization. Its purpose is a) to foster camaraderie among the
graduates of Signal Corps Officer Candidate School classes of the
World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War eras, b) to organize and
offer scholarships and other assistance for the families of Officer
and Enlisted OCS cadre who are in need, and c) to archive for
posterity the stories and history of all of the Signal Corps OCS
Officers who served this great country. We are open to ALL
former Army Signal Corps OCS graduates,
their families and
friends, as well as other officers, enlisted men, those interested
in military history, and the general public.
Please, come join us. For more information about our Association, to
see a list of our Officers and Directors, or for contact details,
click on the OCS Association link at left.
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We are here to serve you.
Last month we penned an article on the state of
the Veteran… that is, we looked at how American
Veterans are doing these days (see:
So How Are We Doing?). Our conclusion was
simple: average. Most Vets are doing no better,
nor worse, than the average American.
Clearly though that is not the case with those
Vets that suffered some sort of “military
stress” or trauma while they were in the Army.
For those Vets the world is one full of hurt.
Just what kind of hurt is hard to say. If their
wounds are physical, then in addition to any
pain they may be suffering is the real
possibility that their physical disabilities
stop them from making a living sufficient to
support the needs of a family. Working may be
all but impossible for them. This of course
means that the money they have available with
which to live and plan their family life may not
be enough. In cases like this, being able to set
aside enough money to send one’s children to
college becomes impossible.
Those suffering with psychological wounds face
similar circumstances. They too are, for the
most part, unable to put food on the table in a
consistent enough fashion to be able to support
In both cases then, being unable to be the
provider for a family usually means that the Vet
involved ends up living his life by himself. No
wife, no kids, nothing in the form of what we
might call a family.
Troubled Vets face a life that is usually
unfulfilled when it comes to having those things
the rest of us take for advantage: a loving
wife, a stable home life, sufficient money to
make ends meet, and maybe a kid or two running
around the house… with a dog in tow.
This we all know. What few of us know is where
all of this pain comes from. How is it that a
healthy man succumbs to these kind of wounds?
The physical wounds we understand, but what of
In our column below we touch on the issue of the
kinds and types of punishment soldiers absorb.
We hope you like it.
Our second topic this month also has something
to do with an article we ran last month. On our
September 2016 Home Page we talked of the
slippery slope our military climbs onto when it
allows itself to become involved in creating
propaganda that’s aimed at the American public.
At that time we were concerned about recent
reports that military personnel have been
cooking the books (intelligence reports) about
the war against ISIS, to make it look as though
we are winning swimmingly, when the opposite is
the truth. Our point was that creating
propaganda for domestic consumption is not a job
the U.S. military should be involved in.
To make our point we showed you a propaganda
movie produced by our beloved Signal Corps back
during the Korean War. It’s point was that the
North Korean communists were dirty bastards with
no regard for humanity… which, while that may be
true, was made in this movie through the use of
lies and deception. That is, the Signal Corps
used video footage of a massacre done by South
Korean police as the visual proof of this fact.
In other words, they blamed the North Koreans
for a massacre actually committed by our own
One can see, when people start creating
propaganda, they will go to any length to make
their case, even if those people creating the
propaganda are military people. Doubt us? Then
listen to the "propaganda" spewing out of the
mouths of Clinton and Trump these days.
As for war propaganda, and the roll the U.S.
military should play in it, we say again: the
U.S. military does not belong in the business of
creating propaganda for home consumption. If
Congress or the White House wants to create war
propaganda for viewing by us American citizens,
they have more than enough money to hire
Hollywood to do the job, rather than place this
burden on the shoulders of the U.S. military,
and the Army Signal Corps in particular.
Having said all of that, this month we have a
couple more WWII propaganda movies for you. Not
as hotly contested as those shown in our article
last month, we think you will find the whole
issue of when and where U.S. military created
propaganda finds a worthwhile home fascinating.
Check out our column at right for the movies,
and please enjoy them
COS vs PTSD
Combat is sudden, intense and life
threatening. No soldier knows how he will perform in combat
until the moment arrives. The same is true as regards
whether a soldier will exit his time in combat in one piece.
The results of combat are unknowable.
Eisenhower said it best in 1944: “The
capacity of Soldiers for absorbing punishment and enduring
privations is almost inexhaustible so long as they believe
they are getting a square deal, that their commanders are
looking out for them, and that their own accomplishments are
understood and appreciated.”
Fine words from a fine man… but notice
how he parsed his sentence. Notice he said “almost
Therein lies the problem. A man’s
capacity to absorb punishment is not inexhaustible. At some
point in time, his capacity to absorb breaks down.
Putting physical wounds aside,
psychological and emotional, trauma-based wounds are among
the most insidious forms of punishment a soldier must
endure. His ability to battle and overcome the intensity of
this form of punishment is based in large measure on his
inner strength and ability to face adversity, fear and
hardship during combat—and do so with courage and
confidence. Even then however, the intensity of the kinds of
psychological trauma a soldier faces can win. Sometimes
one’s will to persevere and win… one’s resilience… is just
Over two-thirds of Silver Star
recipients reported an increase in fear as the battle they
won their Star in progressed. Common symptoms of fear
include violent shaking, trembling, feeling weak, having
cold sweats, and vomiting. To a great extent, these kinds of
reactions can be mitigated by good leadership and training…
but not always. In the end, the simple fact is that combat
affects every soldier, both mentally and emotionally.
The good news is that today’s Army
recognizes this, and has changed its attitude towards the
issue of combat fatigue. Combat stress reactions are now
viewed as combat injuries. Today’s Officer corps—the leaders
on the field—know and understand that psychological combat
injuries often lead to lasting adverse mental health
The poster child of combat
stress—PTSD—appears in 10% – 20% of soldiers that experience
combat… with the result that even those who do not develop
full blown PTSD symptoms still move on to a life filled with
alcoholism and aggression.
From this perspective, PTSD is not a
disease, it is a fairly common result of combat. Been out of
the Army for 50 years now but still having bouts of intense
anger? Still waking up at night from a sleep full of
nightmares? Still find yourself driving along and suddenly
having flashbacks? Then you’re suffering from PTSD—a mild
form, no doubt, but PTSD still.
When trying to understand what is
going on in the heads of those who suffer from military
stress of one form or another, the military separates the
sufferers into two groups. The first group they classify are
those suffering from
Combat/Operational Stress (COS) and/or what they call Combat
Operational Stress Reactions (COSR). For both COS and COSR,
the resulting illness being experienced is usually the consequence of the sum
of the physical and emotional stressors experienced due to
combat, or extended operations and their manifestations.
Those who experience emotional or
psychological illnesses beyond the scope of COS and COSR
fall under the category of PTSD sufferers. As all know by
now, PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a
terrifying event… such as those events normally experienced
in war. The point here is that a correlation between these
three entities has been found. If COS and/or COSR is
not recognized and appropriate treatment implemented, PTSD
often results... or as a doctor would say, PTSD presents
In all cases, symptoms of COS, COSR
and PTSD generally include flashbacks, nightmares and severe
anxiety… as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event.
This commonality of symptomatic expressions helps make the
case that there is a strong relationship between PTSD and
COS/COSR. By way of example:
This page last updated 1 October 2016.
New content is constantly being added. Please check back
– At the beginning of
September we received an eMail from the daughter of Harry
Dillingham, of Army Signal OCS Class 44-34. She was kind
enough to send us copies of his OCS Class graduation
pictures. We've posted them on his
class page for
all to see.
Already on that page is
a picture sent in by Ronald D. Condle, son of Eugene Condle.
The class being as large as it was however, the Condle photo
did not cover all the graduates. The Dillingham photo which
we added, and again, which was submitted by Harry's daughter
Eve, covers more of the class and gets us a lot closer
to having photos of everyone that graduated.
Our thanks to Ms.
Dillingham for being kind enough to dig through her dad's
old photos and send along this wonderful class picture. Her
kindness helps us greatly in archiving the story of Class
44-34, an important element of the WWII U.S. Army Signal
Corps preparations for war.
Continued from left column...
1. PTSD and COS share common symptoms.
2. By definition COS cannot become
PTSD until the trauma is over (past).
3. Evacuation of Service Members
exhibiting COSR’s can result in chronic PTSD.
4. Most cases of acute, chronic and
delayed PTSD after a war is over did not exhibit symptoms of COS
during the battle.
It’s important then to recognize the
signs of Combat or Operational Stress, even as they manifest
themselves in your soul today, so many years after you left
the Army. That is, while it may have
been 50+ years since you fought in combat, your memory of
the effects of that combat has not decreased. Old Vet that
you may be, you are still prone to the illnesses of
COS/COSR/PTSD today, and even at this advanced age will
still, on occasion, exhibit symptoms of it.
Remember again, the signs of Combat
Stress are many, ranging from loss of motivation to
hallucinations… and while they may change over time, likely
as not they are still with you today… even as your age tops
Certain key symptoms are common, and
you may find yourself suddenly suffering from them now. As we
before, they include:
Uncharacteristic irritability or angry outbursts
Unusual anxiety or panic attacks
Signs of depression (such as apathy or loss of interest in
things once enjoyed)
Other changes in behavior, personality or thinking
It is not clear why, as we get older,
some of us have more severe stress reactions to events that
occurred earlier in our life than others. Even the strongest
and most seasoned service member can have a memory driven severe reaction
under certain conditions. One thing is clear: pre-existing
stress, such as that derived from combat in one’s youth…
stress that today comes in the form of sleep deprivation,
exhaustion, feeling excessive heat or cold, or being
distracted by problems at home, can reduce a person's
ability to absorb and get over the extreme stress of combat
or other traumatic experiences we think are behind us.
If you are suffering from stress
these days, don’t discount that time you spent in combat in
your youth. Even if it occurred as far back as the late ‘40s
or ‘60s, the things that did occur can still haunt you
today. After all, even if you are past 70, your mind still
remembers and flashes back visions of when you were a child.
Don't believe it? Then consider
this... if you're like most older men, as you find yourself
walking through your kitchen late at night in the shadows,
or some other room in your house,
you may feel a sudden memory pop that brings back a fleeting
scene from your childhood. Only a micro-millisecond in
length, the memory might be of your mother, making your
grade school lunch, or grabbing you by the shirt and making
you stand still while she ties your shoes.
Or maybe your flashback includes
memories of your dad, at the start of summer vacation,
telling you to straighten the nails in the wooden box in the barn before
September arrives, or reminding you to keep an eye out for
your sister this summer.
If your mind can recall these
memories from those bygone days, then it can recall that time your
knees shook a bit more than normal, as you pulled back on
the cyclic to dodge VC fire coming at you, as you maneuvered
out of a hot zone.
And just as the memories of your
mother and father bring back fleeting milliseconds of good
feelings, flashbacks to those troubled days in Europe, the
Pacific, Korea or Vietnam can cause feelings of anger,
frustration with your lot in life, anxiety, depression,
panic attacks and more.
War affects us all. Veterans develop
survival skills which we use to help us participate fully in
life, especially family life. And while we may prefer to
think that we don’t need them—i.e. our time in combat didn’t
affect us—and even if it did, it's all behind us—our
families know better.
So if you’re in your 70s, 80s or even
90s… hang in there. It’s okay to still be bothered by
trauma. For combat vets, it’s normal. In the past people
didn’t understand how trauma affected combat survivors and
their families. Today we know what it does, and that it
keeps doing its work for as long as we continue to breath.
The best news is that today we know
how to deal with it. Let it go... let go of the denial that
we suffer from the punishment we absorbed back then. Stop
feeling guilty that you made it back and your buddies
didn't. Get on
with your life, short as it may be.
We are here now, and still have time
to grow in emotionally and psychologically healthy ways that
were not open to us when we were younger. Let it go, and be
To find out more, click on our
Reunion Info link
in the column at left.
When Propaganda Becomes Acceptable
• • • •
Is It Possible For
Propaganda To Be Innocent?
Our case is simple: our government employs us to fight its
wars… fight them without question or complaint. When it
comes to justifying to the American public why they command
us to fight however, that is their job.
Having said that, there are clearly benefits to be gained in
explaining to the American public why our country goes to
war, and how we American citizens can get behind a war
effort and support it. That being the case, we thought you
might like to see a couple more propaganda videos this
month, again from WWII. They don’t diminish our case that
war propaganda shouldn’t be produced by the U.S.
military—any more than cooked intel reports about the war on
ISIS should be—but they do make the case that propaganda
should be produced... by someone. That is, propaganda serves
a roll in war, and it shouldn't be diminished.
The first of the movies we have for you this month is a WWII
propaganda movie produced in 1944, by the U.S. Army Signal
Corps. Its purpose was to show the men and women of America
back then how American industry can help win the war.
Fighting the world wars of that time consumed an incredible
amount of our nation’s industrial output. Getting the
American public behind the concept of increasing that output
was critical to winning the war. This movie was produced to
underwrite that effort... an effort that tried to show the
American public that our country's industrial output was
vital in importance in mounting a successful war effort… so
vital that even the smallest of parts was important… the
smallest of parts, like in ball bearings.
The movie discusses the importance of ball bearings to the
war effort against Germany, and of how it was not only
important for America to make ball bearings, but for it to
destroy Nazi ball bearing factories in the process. In its
effort to demonstrate how America could go about crippling
the Nazi ball bearings industry, the film shows the planning
and intelligence gathering that led to the bombing of these
factories in Schweinfurt.
Our second WWII U.S. Army Signal Corps produced propaganda
film is called Prelude to War. It was produced in 1942, and
is an interesting film from the propaganda perspective. What
makes it interesting is that this film was originally
produced as propaganda for men coming into the U.S.
military to fight. As a propaganda piece produced by the
Army for the Army, there is absolutely nothing wrong with
the Army producing it. It’s when the Army gets involved in
producing propaganda pieces for consumption by American
citizens that wrong happens.
Interestingly, when this film first
came out so many soldiers wrote home about it that the
military decided to issue it for consumption by the general
public. One wonders if this was the beginning of the
slippery slope we referred to earlier? Was the innocent
release of this film—which was so very well
received by the soldiers themselves that the public asked to
see it too—to the nation the first instance of
the U.S. Army finding itself making propaganda films for the
Stranger things have happened. Yet
regardless, we admonish again, it is not the job of the U.S.
military to produce propaganda for consumption by the
American public... under any circumstances.
Finally, this film examines the
difference between democratic and fascist states, and covers
the Japanese conquest of Manchuria and the Italian conquest
of Ethiopia. An intriguing film, it's one of 7 that were
made at the time and entitled Why We Fight.
Others include Why We Fight Part
2 – The Nazis Strike; Why We Fight Part 3 – Divide and
Conquer; Why We Fight Part 4 – The Battle of Britain; Why We
Fight Part 5 – The Battle of Russia;Why We
Fight Part 6 – The Battle of China; and one more we
have not been able to find. Most of these are available for
viewing on YouTube, if you have further interest.
For those of our readers that are
history buffs, there are many scholarly pieces on the
internet about these films. Many claim that they are Frank
Capra films. Not so. They are U.S. Army Signal Corps
Yes, Frank Capra was involved... but
he was the director, not the cause or source of the films,
not the entity that shot the film, not the person that
financed the films, and certainly not the producer. As the
director his roll was important... nay, even more than just
important, it was critical, as he was the one that oversaw
the splicing of the U.S. Army Signal Corps film that was
given to him into a cohesive video that supported the story
the War Department wanted to tell.
Important though his roll was, the
fact that Frank Capra “made” these films does not diminish
the fact that this was a U.S. Army Signal Corps production,
approved and encouraged by the War Department, for
consumption by the American citizens of the time.
Enjoy the film.
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