Vet Group Addresses Trauma Through Ancient Wars

Conner Woodruff, Managing Editor

Veterans who served in conflicts across recent American history will come together again at the Huntington Vet Center to discuss trauma and recovery by analyzing ancient wars.

“It’s not always easy coming home,” Ted Diaz, West Virginia secretary of Veterans Assistance and retired Navy vet, said.

This is the second year of the “Testament: Recovering Identity after War” discussion series hosted by Marshall professors Christina Franzen and Robin Riner. Starting Jan. 14th, the group will meet every Saturday over five weeks with this year’s discussion focused on the Roman Civil War.

Riner shared that discussing war and trauma through the lens of old struggles contributes to a more comfortable environment for veterans coping with conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Reading about traumatic stuff that happened long ago in a distant place actually makes it a little safer to get into those discussions,” Riner said. “You can still process the same issues but in a safer medium.”

While also dealing with other post-war hardships, many veterans struggle with reintegrating back into society after serving. Diaz vouches for the veteran services around the state because of his personal experience following his time in the Navy.

“I’ve taken advantage of VA [Veterans Affairs] mental health offerings over the many years that I’ve been out, and they are genuinely caring about supporting veterans,” Diaz said.

Diaz also applauded the series, sharing that these events serve as an effective way for veterans to find their footing once they have left their rigid, militaristic lifestyle.

“It’s groups like this that let us cope with being in a less structured environment,” Diaz said.

With a roughly 15-person turnout, veterans of all ages and experiences connected over the course of the meeting.

“That’s been one of the most rewarding things,” Riner said. “Being able to bring multigenerational veterans together.”

The remaining discussions will take place on Marshall’s campus.

The Testament discussion series is funded by the West Virginia Humanities Council and will travel across the state to different institutions following Marshall’s series.