The battle continues: Life after war

10/2/2007 7:00:00 AM

The second annual SAGE week takes place Oct. 1-4 at the University of Nevada, Reno and will honor the men and women who serve our country. Currently, the University has more than 330 students who are veterans. The youngest veteran is 18 and the oldest is 71.

"SAGE Week is about picking a topic to spur moral deliberation about a contemporary issue," Health Ecology and Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy Professor Craig Klugman said. "Everyone who has picked up a newspaper in the past six months is aware of what is happening to our soldiers overseas."

As part of the planned discussions and presentations, Master of Social Work graduate Michial Nolan will present a film he produced in the Jot Travis Student Union Pine Lounge Tuesday, Oct. 2 from noon until 1 p.m. It examines Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the context of delayed activation or reactivation of PTSD as a result of the Iraq war.

Nolan's film depicts service personnel experiences in Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. Two veterans will attend the screening to talk about their experiences. One gentleman will talk about his journey to self-discovery over the last 40 years.

"In conducting the research to produce my film, I found that many veterans from wars other than the war in Iraq were experiencing a reactivation of PTSD based off of images they saw via media," Nolan said. "In 1999 there were 90,000 cases of PTSD reported. By 2004 that number had increased to 161,000. The projected cost of treating this condition over the last 40 years is between $350 and $700 billion."

Based on a suggestion from University of Wisconsin professor Craig Werner, Nolan included music in his film to assess PTSD reactivation in Vietnam veterans based on popular music listened to during that time. Some of the songs included are "Another Saturday Night," by Sam Cook, "Lodi," by Credence Clearwater Revival, "A Little Help From My Friends," by Joe Cocker as well as "Chain of Fools," by Aretha Franklin.

"I want veterans to know that I appreciate their service and have a commitment to understanding the impact war takes on them," Nolan said. "The film came together so well; I can't watch it without being moved."

Johann Sprenger, University veteran's services coordinator, is also involved in SAGE Week.

"The public in general has a political and ideological connection to the war, but the veteran's connection is emotional," Sprenger said.

In his role, Sprenger helps veterans on campus access their G.I. Bill of Rights benefits and helps connect them to veteran service agencies in the community.

"We want people to understand the difference between the veteran and the war," Sprenger said. "Although the war in Iraq is unpopular, in the beginning it was supported by communities throughout the country. The veterans that return home are human beings. They are susceptible to the same emotional connections to a traumatic event other citizens face."

Betty Dodson, director, Gerontology Academic Program and co-director of the SAGE Consortium, helped plan most of the SAGE week events.

"The topic is relevant to the times and spans generations," Dodson said. "I hope the week's worth of activities raises awareness among students on campus to the needs of veterans returning home today."

"We want to honor the people fighting the war," Dodson added. "We need to recognize the issues veterans are facing when they come home and treat them with compassion."

Events taking place during SAGE week include:

Noon until 1 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 2 Saigon 1965 to Baghdad 2007 in the JTSU Pine Lounge

University graduate Michial Nolan presents a compelling, multi-media show that explores the recurrence of PTSD in Vietnam veterans as a result of the Iraq war.

6 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 2 Born on the 4th of July in the JTSU Pine Lounge

This 1989 Academy Award winning film is based on the life of Ron Kovic, a Vietnam War veteran who became an anti-war and pro-human rights political activist after feeling betrayed by the country he fought for. Discussion follows.

5:30-7 p.m. SAGE Circle Discussion: Ethical and aging issues faced by our Veterans at the JTSU Wolf Perk Coffee Shop

Join students, faculty and staff for an open exchange of ideas, opinions, and experiences related to the impact of war on our service men and women.

5:30-7 p.m. Stress & Distress: reliving the experience of war University of Nevada School of Medicine, Pennington Building room 16

As veterans return from combat, medical practitioners are seeing specific effects on mental health. Panelists will discuss research findings and new services available to the Reno health care community for those traumatized by war.

SAGE Week is presented by the SAGE Consortium of the College of Health and Human Science: Gerontology Academic Program and Nevada Center for Ethics and Health Policy.

Co-sponsors include: the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) Gerontology Club, ASUN Wolf Pack Veterans, Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Peace Studies, Department of Sociology, Jot Travis Student Union, St. Mary's Regional Medical Center, School of Social Work, School of Public Health, University of Nevada School of Medicine and University Veteran Services.

Through education, research, and community outreach, the College of Health and Human Sciences is dedicated to the development of tomorrow's leaders who will help build a healthy Nevada through the prevention and resolution of the issues that challenge people's everyday lives.


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