Foreign Correspondent ABC TV; Sally Sara: ‘Coming Home’ Parts 1& 2 (Joint Winner of The MHS Broadcast Media Award)
You can see this film here.
Coming home captured some of the traumatic experiences of Doctor Marc Dauphin while working long, exhausting shifts at a military hospital at Kandahar Air Base, Afghanistan. Day after day, Dr Dauphin was exposed to the war injuries of soldiers, Taliban insurgents, women and children.
One story was of a father who pleaded with the medical staff to save his son after his other son had just died by being blown apart from a mine. After hours of medical work, and a few hours of hopeful anticipation, the young boy passed away.
“It’s a war,” said Dr Dauphin. “Women and children always pay. That’s what’s worse”.
For the last month and a half of Dr Dauphin’s service in Afghanistan he reported that his mind was in overload and he couldn’t remember anything that happened.
When Dr Dauphin came home he tried to deal with his traumatic experiences by talking himself out of the feelings of restlessness and anxiety. He realised that this approach was not working and that he was in trouble when he was planning to commit suicide, triggered by hearing a radio program which included some of his interviews taken while he was in Afghanistan.
The program stated that after saving so many lives, he now faced his hardest challenge yet: saving himself. Dr Dauphin experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which was described as feelings of numbness, having the past feeling like the present and experiencing haunting dreams. Psychiatrist Bill Nash reported that PTSD was said to be more common in medics than soldiers. He said that medics’ trauma grew out of feeling like they were failing to do what they were expected to do, that is, to save lives.
Lt. General Romeo Dallaire, who also experienced the war in Afghanistan, said that the part of your brain that controls your thoughts and emotions that functions differently in those with PTSD. He stated that being able to control your thoughts and thus go into risky situations calmly, was what made you good at being at war in the first place, and this was what was so hard to lose.
Dr Dauphin finished by stating that the best thing we can do is it to create acceptance and honour for those who have come home. His wife reported that “this experience showed him that you can recover from war”. As Lt. General Romeo Dallaire states “I work hard and it eases that pain. There’s lots of things to do! Live to live and you will attenuate the pain”.
Posted by Naomi Chapman