A Vietnam Trilogy by Raymond Scurfield

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MWSA Review

Dr. Raymond Monsour Scurfield is a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast.  He is a Vietnam veteran and worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for 25 years and has directed PTSD mental health programs in a number of locations.  He is recognized nationally and internationally for his expertise in PTSD in both combat veterans and disaster survivors.  This expertise comes from his many years of experience in working with others in the mental health profession and his own personal experience of being a veteran who experienced war as a psychiatric social work officer.  
By reading the synopsis of each book, one can discover how Dr. Raymond Monsour Scurfield takes readers on a journey from his first days in Vietnam until the very present, going back with him on several trips with other veterans, and then the questions need to be addressed in how the past has affected the way the veterans of today's wars are being treated.  Dr. Scurfield shares his personal journey as well as sharing quotes and experiences from many other veterans.  His personal sharing allows us to see deeply into his thoughts and how his strategies and innovative therapies for treating combat veterans can be used in the field of mental health.  These books can open doors for active duty military members and veterans, as well as offer guidance to their families and other community members.

Personally, I wondered what impact this series of books would have on me.  I am not a veteran, I have a son who served eight years in the Marines, but is a non-combat veteran.  So... should others like me take the time to read these books?  They are not what I would call an "easy read" whatsoever, but I would call them an "essential read," for all of us have been impacted by war and know people that are struggling with PTSD issues.  For me, having the input of "other voices" beyond Dr. Raymond Scurfiel'ds allowed me to hear the stories from more than one voice and helped me to "experience" through them, the impact that war had on each and every one of them.  Dr. Scurfield is an expert whose voice is being heard around the world. Anyone who is experiencing PTSD or knows someone struggling with PTSD would be wise in reading these books.  They would be a wonderful resource for mental health professionals. We may not have learned enough from Vietnam, but Dr. Scurfield brings us the hope that we need for moving into our future.

Reviewed by: Joyce Gilmour (2009)

Author's Synopsis

A Vietnam Trilogy is about a side of war that for decades pro-military and pro-defense advocates have systematically suppressed, minimized and denigrated as being falsely exaggerated the indelible human cost of war on its participants that can and does persist for decades. The 3.14 million Vietnam war-zone veterans and 800,000 Vietnam-theater veterans suffering full or partial post-traumatic stress syndrome, and their families will find it invaluable.
Volume 2, Healing Journeys, focuses on three Vietnam Vets making a return trip accompanying 16 students on a Study Abroad history course. Especially in the post 9/11, post-Iraq world, this trilogy is important reading for academics and mental health professionals including graduate and undergrad students in history, psychology, social work and religion, and professionals in psychiatry, clinical nursing, counseling, and religion, and academic specialists interested in study-abroad programs. 
Through the wrenching stories of veterans and the author s own understanding as a mental health professional, Scurfield describes his and his comrades experiences during the war; then he describes the healing process fostered by innovative return trips he has led to peace-time Vietnam in 1989 and, in conjunction with a university history program, in 2000, described in this volume. 
A Vietnam Trilogy offers veterans and their families a vicarious "healing journey" by relating the experiences of those who participated in these therapeutic efforts, and offers recommendations to veterans and those who wish to help them. 
The therapy breakthroughs for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are now the model for innovative programs across America; and they will be the foundation for programs to help today s veterans of the Iraq War.
Volume 1, A Vietnam Trilogy. Veterans and Post-Traumatic Stress, 1968, 1989 and 2000 (Algora 2004), described the healing processes of hundreds of veterans from Vietnam and earlier wars up until 1990, when the author co-led a group of veterans on a therapeutic trip back to Vietnam to face their demons. 
The current volume continues from 1990 to 2000 (including a discussion of the impact of the first Gulf War on veterans of earlier wars) and a second return trip to Vietnam in 2000, as part of a university Study Abroad program, to help veterans in their healing process. Volume 3, From Vietnam to Iraq (Algora, fall 2006), will complete the Trilogy with a consideration of the experience of prior wars to help people who are now in the military or in the healing professions, and their families and communities, to deal with today s realities of combat and its aftermath