How The Military Prepares Soldiers For Civilian Life After Deployment

Apr 6, 2016

Ret. Col. Jon Coffin spent ten years debriefing soldiers who were returning from war zones to help identify potential cases of PTSD. He led group debriefings of soldiers while they were still intact with their platoons, after they left the combat theater but before they reunited with their families.

Coffin says he asked them three questions: Who are you, and what did you do over there? What did it feel like to touch ground in the U.S.? What moment of your deployment is frozen in your mind, and what do you want to say about it?

That approach to coaching soldiers to talk through their experiences is radically different than what author Karl Marlantes remembers of coming home from Vietnam.  Marlantes draws on his experience in the novel Matterhorn and in the nonfiction book, What It Is Like To Go To War.

Marlantes and Coffin are our guests Wednesday on Vermont Edition to discuss the impact that war has on soldiers and their communities. Both are speaking at the annual William E. Colby Military Writers' Symposium at Norwich University this week.

Broadcast live on Wed., April 6, 2016, at noon; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.