The long-standing effects of war on soldiers

Michael Smart still goes to group therapy sessions for Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) even after 45 years of returning home to Australia from the Vietnam war.

68-year-old Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart (left), Michael Smart's service award (right)
68-year-old Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart (left), Michael Smart's service award (right)

Student ID: 480212339, Word Count: 459

I am writing to propose an idea for a podcast on the long-standing effects of war on soldiers, featuring Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart, and his experience before, during and after the war, to publish on Salience. Michael is still seeking treatment for depression and Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) even after 45 years of returning home to Australia from the war.

Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart
Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart

I already have 49 minutes’ worth of audio footage with Michael from an interview I did with him for a story on ANZAC Day. My questions were centred around ANZAC Day, but because I know Michael as one of the patients at the medical centre I worked at for 5 years, he was comfortable enough to tell me about his experiences before, during and after the war.

Michael served as an engineer in the Vietnam war from 1964-1973. I learnt about his thoughts on war as a young person from the impression he received from his father and grandfather who were in the Korean and second world war respectively, the two-year training he underwent for Vietnam, the alcoholism, depression and PTSD he developed, the strife he faced returning home and what it was like going back to Vietnam decades later.

Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart's Service Award
Vietnam Veteran, Michael Smart’s Service Award

What was particularly interesting was the fact that Michael is still suffering 45 years after returning home and is still being treated for depression and PTSD.

Upon interviewing Michael and learning how much depression/PTSD still effects his life, I researched studies into Vietnam Veterans and mental health. It was there I found Vietnam Veterans Family Health Psychiatry Specialist, Dr. Brian O’Toole from the Sydney Medical School Brain & Mind Research Institute.

I found a podcast interview he did with the ABC and then discovered his study, published on the Journal of Psychiatric Research, which conveyed the suicidality rates linked with PTSD, depression alcohol disorders, phobia, and agoraphobia in Vietnam veterans and their partners.

Prevalence of lifetime DSM-IV in veterans, and odd ratios and 95% confidence intervals for the relationship between each lifetime diagnosis and each veteran suicidality item

Dr. Brian O’Toole is a professor at Sydney University, so I will reach out to him for insight into his study and if he’s currently working on any further studies on this topic.

For further insight on how predominant PTSD is amongst Vietnam Veterans, I will reach out to the National President of Vietnam Veterans Associate of Australia, Ken Foster OAM JP.

The target audience for this story would be current veterans, veterans that have recently come back home, Vietnam veterans and veterans from older wars, friends, and family of veterans and medical professionals.

I don’t have access to Pro Tools, but I can edit audio only on Premiere Pro and have done so successfully in the past. I plan to use my own voice to narrate any reports and/or figures.

This idea is therefore not only feasible in production but also highly newsworthy in Australia.

Mary Hakimi
About Mary Hakimi 2 Articles
24-year-old media professional with a passion for social and digital media. I love good coffee, travelling, A song of ice and fire and beach days. Contact: mhak0122@uni.sydney.edu.au

1 Comment

  1. Hi, I think this idea about the war long term impact on soldiers provides newsworthy information as the backwash of war for human should be taken seriously and to avoid that. The angle of the story considering the perspective of soldiers including their psychological problems is infrequent and worthy to be reported.
    In addition, the interviewees are specifically defined in the proposal which is great. However, there are a few aspects should be paid attention. Firstly, the publication service is missed. Secondly, more resources and information could be included, such as the change of job or life of soldiers after returning home.

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