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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Military OneSource Offers Complimentary Combat PTSD Comic Book

Jackie Eckhart of the Virginian-Pilot is one of the lucky few to have had the opportunity to review a copy of a free comic book, "Coming Home: What to Expect, How to Deal When You Return from Combat," now being offered to service members at Military OneSource. Well, the way she tells it, the men in her life understood the value of the magazine better than she did at first:

"Coming Home: What to expect, how to deal when you return from combat" is a new project by Military OneSource. Created by comic book masters Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colon, who formerly worked at Harvey and Marvel comics, it is aimed at service members who have worn combat gear every day for a year. It's aimed at people who see potential IEDs at every intersection. It is aimed at guys who come back to the States to feel fury at traffic, and women who find that half the world thinks they're bad mothers because they had to serve overseas, and family members who can't understand why their returning soldier or Marine is drinking so darned much.

This comic is aimed to help folks who need to learn about post-traumatic stress disorder. Because I wasn't one of those people, and I wasn't sure how I felt about treating a subject as serious as combat and operational stress response in a comic book, I threw "Coming Home" into a stack of reading material to look at later.

Not a minute later my 14-year-old picked it up. Then the kindergartner. Then our houseguest, a 48-year-old former Navy helicopter pilot. "What kind of aircraft is that?" he asked, holding the cover up to the light from the sliding glass doors. Then he read the whole thing.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.


[A]ll four main characters in the comic suffer one or more classic symptoms of combat and operational stress response after coming home. The reader gets the idea that sleep disturbances, sensitivity to certain sounds, anger, apathy, avoidance and increased alcohol use are the normal reaction to a year of living dangerously. It would be abnormal to go out on patrols in a war zone for such an extended period of time and not be altered. ...

We need to start assuming that our service members will need some kind of treatment if they have been under fire. ... That the reaction to war is normal. That the treatment is normal. We have to stop telling our military members and their families that it is OK to get treatment, implying tolerance for damage or weakness. Instead we have to start saying it is brave to get treatment. It takes courage to go back into the heart of darkness and evict the things the war has installed.

From Military OneSource:

Because combat changes things. In small ways for some troops, in larger ways for others. Coming Home: What to Expect, How to Deal When You Return from Combat, sends a riveting message about issues that many returning service members face. Created by the legendary Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón with guidance from military experts and service members who’ve been there. Order your free copy today.

More details from EOD Family Deployment Info:

1. What is Coming Home?

Coming Home is a short (32-page) “graphic novel” – the term used currently to describe highest-quality books with comic-style illustrations. It’s designed to give returning troops a heads-up about issues they may face at home – issues like marital stress, drug and alcohol abuse, aggressive driving, sleep problems, and combat stress symptoms – and where and how to get help.

The story involves four returning service members. Each has been affected by combat in some way and to a different extent:

* Marine Sergeant Jason Fetterman experiences insomnia and anger, and works to renew his relationship with his wife and build a new one with their infant son.
* Army Sergeant Mandy Clark deals with re-entry into life at home as a single mother.
* Army Specialist Danny Moreno drinks too much, drives too fast, and is having problems with his relationship with his girlfriend.
* First Sergeant Peter Douglas, a member of the Army National Guard, works to welcome the newly returned service members and guide them to resources that will make their reintegration easier to handle.

Each character, with the help of his or her buddies, friends, and family, comes to recognize the importance of getting support – from the Command, installation programs, and Military OneSource. Using these resources, each character surmounts the challenges of reintegration after combat.

The book also contains an extensive list of resources available to service members and their families.

2. Who created Coming Home?

Coming Home is a Military OneSource publication. Sid Jacobson, who wrote the storyline, is former editor-in-chief at Harvey Comics and executive editor at Marvel Comics. Ernie Colón, who drew the illustrations, served in the Army National Guard and in the Air National Guard as a gunner on a B-26 during the Korean Conflict, and oversaw production of Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, Blackhawk, and the Flash at DC comics. Mr. Jacobson and Mr. Colón worked closely with military experts, Military OneSource staff, and service members (at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Bethesda Naval Hospital, and Marine Corps Base Quantico) to make Coming Home as accurate a portrayal of the service member’s experience as it can be.

3. Who is Coming Home meant for?

* Coming Home is meant primarily for service members of all branches, but especially Army and Marine Corps, about to return home after combat, or who have recently returned home from combat.
* Spouses of these service members will also benefit from the situations described and the resources listed in the book.
* Command leadership will also benefit from the book’s portrayals and resources.

Parents should be aware that Coming Home is not meant as an educational material for young children. It deals with situations that are best understood by adults, such as marital stress, combat-stress symptoms, alcoholism, and depression, including suicidal depression.

4. How will Coming Home be distributed?

* Individual copies of Coming Home may be ordered by service members or their family members by visiting or by calling 1-800-342-9647.
* Military community service providers, Commanders, chaplains, and other personnel helping service members and their families may place bulk orders for appropriate events such as return and reunion briefings, PDHRA activities, and other events supporting returning military service members.

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