Skip to main content
War Changes Soldiers (TEDx talk)
  • Esmeralda Kleinreesink
When I returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan I had been transformed. Not in a good way: I was angry, quickly startled at loud noises and suddenly spending fortunes on speeding tickets. I was told that, even though there was no name for it, what I had was fairly normal and it was supposed to go away within 6-12 months. However, this 'returning-home-blues' did resemble post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a mental illness many deployed soldiers have been diagnosed with.

In this TEDx talk, I will take the audience to Afghanistan: to feel the constant threat of rocket attacks from the mountains surrounding the camp.

Then, I will take them on a quest to find out how common my negative transformation from war is, by looking at international military Afghanistan memoirs. Are most soldier disillusioned by war, or quite the opposite, do many experience war as a means to personal growth?  We will discovered that both growth (30%)  and disillusionment (39%) are major themes in military memoirs. And that 50% of the authors, with both positive and negative stories, described returning-home-blues, even though only 10% are diagnosed with PTSD. We will even discover a name for my blues: Post Deployment Disorientation.

Nowadays, loud noises no longer make me duck and I hardly ever get speeding tickets. So I have transformed again.  We will conclude that war changes soldiers, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. What these soldiers want (and need) most of all is not pity, but recognition.
  • military memoirs; Afghanistan war; PTSD; Post Deployment Disorientation; Paul Fussell; Yuval N. Harari; veterans;
Publication Date
October 27, 2016
Citation Information
Esmeralda Kleinreesink. "War Changes Soldiers (TEDx talk)" (2016)
Available at: