"Saving Private Ryan" Brings Painful Memories to Combat Veterans
Posted July 27, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — "Saving Private Ryan" is one of the most talked about movies this summer. However, counselors with the Department of Veterans Affairs worry that the movie will trigger post-traumatic stress in veterans.
The movie vividly recreates the combat of D-day on June 6, 1944.
"It's terrible when you see people dying like that, I've seen a lot of it," World War II Veteran Ralph Links said.
Links saw "Saving Private Ryan" Tuesday afternoon, and it brought back tragic memories.
"Sometimes you get to thinking about stuff like that, but you just let it go," Link said. "Don't dwell on anything like that, I don't dwell on it."
Some veterans may not dwell on the memories, but medical professionals fear that the movie will trigger post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans who already have problems with anxiety, depression and nervousness.
"Anything that has elements of the experience in it, can serve as a trigger for bringing the memory back in the form of flashbacks, memories or dreams," psychiatrist Dr. Joe McFadden said.
The Chief of Mental Health at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center says the best way for veterans to deal with their feelings is to talk them out with counselors, who are available at the VA Mental Health Clinic.
World War II Veteran Tom Pritchard does not think that he will need that help, but cannot deny the movie's power.
"I never really served in combat," Pritchard said. "After seeing this movie, I am just as glad I didn't."
The Cumberland County Veterans Service office and the Division of Veterans Affairs office in Fayetteville have not received any calls concerning the movie. Officials say that could be because of a national toll free number that has been set up by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The number is 1-800-827-1000. If any veteran is in need of help, a benefits counselor will refer them to a medical professional in their area.