Every human being is an individual with specific experiences that shaped their personality. We are all different. However, there is a rising number of research that prove humans may suffer the same consequences of war regardless of their cultural background.
After the American President announced that he will withdraw the US military from Afghanistan for good, the topic of combat-triggered PTSD seems more important than ever. The latest data show that between 10% and 20% of Iraq/Afghanistan veterans experience PTSD symptoms.
Last week, research conducted by Sarah Mathew and Matthew Zefferman at the Arizona State University proved that soldiers in highly-developed world militaries go through almost identical issues as warriors in small militaries of third-world countries.
The research involved Turkana warriors—people who live in remote parts of Kenya, right near the border with South Sudan. These warriors protect their cattle with illegal semi-automatic weapons. The numbers are staggering: around 50% of men who die in this community, die from exposure to combat.
These people were interviewed for six months and the results showed that some 28% display PTSD symptoms, with parameters indicating similar results to those of American war veterans. The only difference is the depression-related aspect of PTSD, as it seems to be higher in American soldiers.
Researchers explain that the reason may be the difference in military structures. The Turkana have no firm hierarchical structure like Western countries do. This helps them avoid making complex moral decisions that push their boundaries and traumatize American soldiers deeply.
A great number of professional soldiers experience PTSD even after they retire, while even more ignore the signs and remain untreated. This research is hopefully only a step towards better understanding and spreading awareness of what soldiers go through after combat, understanding the roots of PTSD, and treating it more effectively.