Thursday, August 25, 2022

Russia Wrestling with PTSD Problems among Veterans of Putin’s War in Ukraine

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 29 – The Russian government is doing far better in handling veterans who have suffered physical wounds in combat now than its Soviet predecessor did, veterans’ activists say; but because the fighting in Ukraine is mostly something Russians see on television, that country is having more difficulty dealing with the psychological difficulties combat produces.

            Mikhail Yashin, the director of the Moscow House of the Soldiers Heart, an institution created by a British lord in 1992 to help veterans with problems, says that in the past, “little thought was given to the mental anguish” veterans suffer but now the situation has changed and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)is recognized as a problem (

            In Soviet times, Yashin continues, few thought much about the mental problems combat produced because the population was “mostly peasant” and “when a soldier is a peasant, it is difficult to talk about mental anguish: he had to glow and restore the country; but now when the population is more urban and more pampered, we need to talk about precisely that.

            Unfortunately, both Russians as a community and Russian veterans have a problem. Most Russians now simply watch the war on television. “People die there while we drink good coffee and butter our sandwiches. We view war as information or entertainment. But those who are returning face a problem: how to behave in this society?

            Veterans, he says, “often hide problems with PTSD because if they are diagnosed as having it, they face restrictions.” They can’t get a driver’s license or a hunting permit. And if they receive psychiatric treatment, they may not be able to get jobs in the future. “That’s why PTSD is being hidden” and the problem is growing.

            These difficulties in treating mental problems of veterans stand in sharp contrast to how the government is handling physical traumas, Yashin says. There, the authorities are doing such a good job in dealing with invalids that this has created another problem: veterans are actively seeking invalid status to get benefits rather than re-integrating in the broader society.

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