69 years ago today, LTG George S. Patton slapped a young private who had been hospitalized for psychoneurosis, and accused him of cowardice.
While visiting injured soldiers in Sicily, LTG Patton had been speaking to each of the visibly wounded men in the field hospital when he saw PVT Charles H. Kuhl. PVT Kuhl showed no outward wounds, and when asked what ailed him, his response, “It’s my nerves sir…I just can’t take it anymore” drew fury from the infamous General. LTG Patton slapped him across the face with a pair of gloves and called him a coward. As he exited the tent, LTG Patton heard PVT Kuhl crying, came back and struck him again, and ordered him out of the tent.
After a similar encounter a week later involving a different soldier, LTG Patton received a personal reprimand from General Dwight Eisenhower, and is widely thought to have lost command of the D-Day invasion as a consequence.
At one time, this attitude was common. While the negative stigma associated with the invisible wounds of war still lingers today, the tide is changing.
Raymond Chandler, the Sergeant Major of the Army, openly admits to utilizing behavioral health resources at Ft. Bliss, Texas following a difficult deployment to Iraq. He shows by example that recognizing your struggles and seeking help are acceptable, and even encouraged.
In his interview for SMA, General Casey asked if there was anything in his history that could embarrass the Army. SMA Chandler shared his experience of seeking mental health counseling at Ft. Bliss. General Casey expressed that part of his history would not be considered a disqualifier, but an asset.
This changing attitude has been a long time coming. Many may not have received the recognition and help they needed, yet, but Operation Homefront applauds the efforts of the military to move towards education and acceptance of all wounds, both visible and invisible.
(Article by Rachel O’Hern, military spouse, a recent addition at Operation Homefront and all-around great gal!)