The Face Of War

ArtistCamille McMennamin
WriterRobert Schulman

It's not John Wayne, leading a bright-eyed group of young recruits into battle, as if it were a scrimmage at USC. 

It's this face: 

Haggard. 

Exhausted. 

Vacant. 

Terrified. 

“Get me out of here.” 

For the record, the face belongs to the then 20-year-old Marine Lance Cpl. James Blake Miller, who was serving in Iraq at the time. Photographer Luis Sinco made him “The Emblem of War” and he was dubbed, “The Marlboro Man,” landing on the front page of 150 newspapers. 

It's the same look replicated in every war that's ever been fought. 

And if you're lucky enough to survive, which Miller did, there's another battle ahead. 

Once called shell shock, or battle fatigue, it now goes by another name: 

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is characterized by constant edginess, nightmares, sleeplessness and chronic anger. 

The VA treatment centers offer more that 200 specialized programs, each one tailored to deal with specific type of trauma. 

Although the programs vary, the idea is to help veterans share the images of war that still haunt them. 

Well meaning therapists do everything they can and some veterans are able to manage the pain. 

But, for some, the scars are too deep, the images too horrifying, the nightmares too vivid and drugs, alcohol, dropping out, and even suicide, are the only answers. 

The only real answer is to stop putting people into situations no one should ever have to face.