REMEMBERING OUR VETERANS

veteranuniform.jpgGrimes Teich Anderson will be closed on Veterans Day, November 11, in honor of our veterans. For Grimes Teich Anderson, this is not just a day off from the work we do serving our clients. Veterans Day holds a new , more important significance for us because of our own veteran, Tod Leaven. Tod leads our firm’s veterans law department, which includes assisting veterans with obtaining service related disability benefits. Who better to help and serve our veterans than an attorney who knows the military life and soldier side of the U.W. Department of Veterans Affairs?

The importance of the date, November 11, often gets lost in the shuffle.
Formerly known as Armistice Day, it is the date the armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany. This ended the hostilities on the Western Front, and took effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time – the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.” The treaty is known as the Armistice of Compiegne after the location in France where it was signed. Hostilities on the Russian front and with the Ottoman Empire continued another six months until the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending the war.

World War I was significant in terms of the progression of the recognition of service related disabilities.
World War I was the collision of the modern, industrialized world and warfare. The unfortunate result was a quantum leap in the ability of nations to engage in months and months of battle with superior weapons capable of generating previously unimaginable numbers of wounded and dead. As recent as the U.S. Civil War, a battle may last a few hours or perhaps a few days. Total casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, which occurred July 1-3, 1865, were 51,000. This was the bloodiest of the Civil War. Nations weren’t capable of sustaining battles for much longer than that, as it had been since the dawn of time. The Battle of Verdun, however, lasted from February to December, 1916, and casualties for both sides totaled 800,000. The battle was marked by artillery fire at a level previously beyond the industrial capacity of nations.

A sad consequence were reports of “shell shock,” which in many ways resembles post traumatic stress disorder. Early in World War I, soldiers from the British Expeditionary Force began to report symptoms after combat, including ringing in ears, amnesia, dizziness, tremor and hypersensitivity to noise. Most often there was no physical injury. It was assumed there was a l ink between the effects of the explosions of artillery shells and the symptoms, likely inflicting a hidden brain injury. Later, an alternative view developed describing shell shock as an emotional injury, instead of a physical injury. A lack of understanding caused some prosecutions for desertion of post and denial of pensions. Over time, this problem, which arises not just from heavy artillery fire but also from combat, was brought under the umbrella of posttraumatic stress disorder.

Shell shock is the historical ancestor of posttraumatic stress disorder. Fortunately, advances in psychiatric medicine have led to better recognition and treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. The stigma of the “thousand yard stare” is gone, and veterans are encouraged to seek treatment. As it often happens, new medical conditions are poorly understood and not treated effectively when first recognized. Effective treatment, including counseling and prescriptive medication, is readily available now.

We honor our veterans by recognizing the physical and mental consequences that can arise from their service. Veterans Day, 2014, is a fine time to pause and consider where we might be but for our nation’s military. The Carolinas are home to many active duty and retired military. Let us all make certain they feel appreciated on November 11.

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