Applying the Sociological Perspective: An Iraq Soldier's Story
This research conducted surrounding this interviewee focuses on the reasons why a soldier's resiliency levels are so high considering the two massive injuries endured. The interviewee above demonstrates a considerable amount of resiliency after his time in combat in Iraq. He suffered a painful physical injury and a psychological injury quickly identified (assumed first due to the events surrounding the burns then diagnosed). He received treatment for this burns and at the same time received treatment for his PTSD. How can this Marine so likely to find the positives of the experience and laugh about his injuries and recovery? The paper will consider factors including his biopsychosocial development, Erikson's stages of development, his family structure and their outlook on life.
The interviewee grew up in a home with his mother, father, older sister, and younger brother. He is a middle child -- three years younger than his sister. His younger brother is seven years younger than he. The father was in the Marine Corps until the interviewee was in third grade. His father reenlisted four times. The interviewee's uncle, grandfather, and his great uncle (grandfather's brother) were in the Marine Corps. Various members of the interviewee's family fought in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Gulf War. There is a long tradition of service and pride in military service despite the general opinion of the nation upon soldiers' return. The interviewee grew up knowing his family served in the military, but was not forced to join when he was of age. It was his decision and one that his father was very proud of when informed of it. His mother, who knew she married into a military family, and in particular the Marines, was proud of her son's decision, but as a mother was fearful of his choice. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan guaranteed her son combat duty.
The interviewee grew up feeling stable in his relationships with his parents. He experienced normal development during the transitions of the six stages. When as an infant, he developed trust instead of mistrust, which allowed for autonomy rather than shame or doubt as a toddler (Erikson, 1990) As part of his father's service in the Marine Corps, the family moved twice during his first two years of life. His father was absent during much of this time, yet when he was home he was active and present with his children (Leske & Jiricka, 1998,-Page 383) His mother encouraged his creativity and allowed him to explore his initiative rather than make him feel inferior for his curiosity (Erikson, 1990) As he gained more confidence in his identity and plans for the future, his parents encouraged him, and did not force the military decision (Erikson, 1990) He planned to join the Marines for one tour of duty and then pursue college. Since making that decision, he decided to postpone college and reenlist in the Marines as he felt the corps is where he belongs.
He dated in high school and dated after joining the Marines (Erikson, 1990) His last girlfriend began seeing him before his deployment to Iraq and remained close via phone calls, letters, and emails. They decided that she did not have to wait for him to come back from Iraq, as their relationship was not serious. She decided that she would date casually if interested in another man, but had no intentions to go out and date just because she could. After his injury, his girlfriend continued to support him in his recovery but did not expect the relationship to resume at the same level as prior to the deployment. He recovered, began dating again, and recently became engaged (Erikson, 1990) ?As aforementioned, this young man experienced a good childhood in relation to the developmental stages. His parents believe this is because they understood the military life and took precautions to raise their children in a healthy environment. During the pregnancy, the interviewee's mother reduced stressful situations in her life. It was not always possible as her husband was overseas during the majority of her pregnancy (he was deployed shortly after conception). However, she had family support and assistance with her older daughter.
The biopsychosocial development from conception on throughout his life has been generally positive, yet that does not mean the interviewee did not have issues develop in his life (Engel, 2012) He lost his grandparents at a young age; they were very close. He moved frequently and his father held rigorous personal standards in the home due to his military career. His father suffered from undiagnosed PTSD for several years until he sought help. All of these scenarios could negatively affect the biopsychosocial development of a child (Engel, 2012) The family affected by the PTSD, but received assistance as the family became aware of the problem and the help available (Hoge, Castro, & Eaton, 2012,-Page 5-1). The family learned skills necessary for the rebuilding of their family structure, communication, and in very real terms saved the children from long-term psychological, emotional, and potentially physical damage (Toomey, Brennan, & Friesen, 2012,-Page 1) ?Conway and Li (2011) discovered in their research on family structures and child outcomes that even in the worst situations, that the level of involvement from the father directly affects the outcome of the child's physical, psychological, and social development. The manner in which this family believed in their father's abilities to overcome his own issues demonstrated a resiliency and a strong family belief system. (Melbourne, et al., 2011,-Page 2) The family believed in surviving any situation they faced and as a result, the interviewee held that belief after receiving his injuries. (Melbourne, et al., 2011,-Page 2) This structure of the family system provided each member the tools to survive military life as children and in the event of the situation with the interviewee when facing injuries in combat (Melbourne, et al., 2011,-Page 2)
The interviewee perceives his father as instrumental in his healing because of his openness to admit his feelings and cry when he was hurting (Melbourne, et al., 2011,-Page 2) His father acted contrary to cultural stereotypes that "real" men do not cry, Marines do not cry, and fathers to cry is to show weakness, especially in front of his son (Melbourne, et al., 2011,-Page 2) The interviewee spoke of the families he witnessed in Iraq -- families torn apart by war and severe poverty that remained steadfastly loyal to one another (Van Breda, 2001,-Page 23). Despite their opinion on the American presence in the country, the war, and the turmoil their family faced, the interviewee saw similarities to his family and that surprised him. His family was all-American, long history of military service, proud Marines and devoted to remaining a He witnessed strong family units where the women left to care for their family when the men of the family were fighting or deceased. (Van Breda, 2001,-Page 23) The same determination in their manner of caring for their family he had seen in his mother when she spoke of not wanting to see her son go off to war, but accepted it as his choice, his destiny (Van Breda, 2001,-Page 23) She supported what she did not want to happen because of her loyalty to the family and her belief that no matter what happens to the family, it will continue to be strong (Van Breda, 2001,-Page 23).
The experiences of this young man prepared him for military service and his familial experience prepared him to endure his military service. He experiences seemingly unconnected work together as a network like memory to craft him into the person he is and will become. The experiences broadened his perspective as an individual, a son & brother, and as a soldier. His personal experiences, his disposition, and family history enabled him to assimilate traumatic experiences in moderately healthy ways. This young man is an example of how the culmination of one's life experiences acts as preparation for the constant challenges and obstacles in life.
Whether it was luck of the draw or his family line is a strong and resilient one, this interviewee received strong support, proper opportunities to develop appropriately, and when physical, emotional, and social issues arose in their family, they were committed to finding solutions that keep the individual members as well as the entire family unit healthy. In addition, the military life, particularly the Marine Corps, has a motto of taking care of their own, u, which may have influenced this family as each generation has experienced a war, and the direct consequences of combat.
The interviewee, deeply affected by the death, and the devastation witnessed in Iraq during the world, saw similarities and differences in the way families lived and supported one another. He realized that despite the outward appearances of the families in the United States and in Iraq, certain characteristics remained. Loyalty to family was strong even when the…