When I think of my father, I always envision him in an airplane cockpit. He flew in the Pacific theater during World War II and, afterward, in the post-war Air Force. Knowing how much he loved planes and flying, it came as a great shock when, years after his death, my mother revealed that he had constant nightmares from the missions he flew during the war. Now we would say that he suffered from PTSD. But, as my mother told me, the men of his generation, "never spoke about how they felt about those experiences."
As I began work on my book, Soldier's Heart, the image of my father's silent suffering was always in my thoughts. He was not the only relative to experience such pain. My grandmother's grandfather returned to his farm from the Civil War with a bullet wound in his leg and "Soldier's Heart". The term is strangely poetic for something so painful. That was the jumping off point for my research; what is the history of the syndrome, what has it been called, and just how far back has it been recorded.