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New Book Details Vietnam Vets' Stories
Gulf Coast's Scurfield Releases Second Volume in a Three-Part Book Series

Date 7-5-06

Contact Shelia White 228.865.4573

Author Jason Sherwood


Gulfport—War-related trauma expert and associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Dr. Ray Scurfield has just released his second book titled Healing Journeys: Study Abroad with Vietnam Veterans. The book is the second volume in a three-part series featuring Scurfield’s studies and experiences locally and abroad with war veterans and their recovery.

“For a lot of years people have told me that I should start writing a book, because I have so many articles published on the subject,” Dr. Scurfield said. “I believe that I have something very substantial to offer in terms of understanding and perspective.”

A Vietnam veteran, Scurfield served in the Department of Veterans Affairs for 25 years and has directed many post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) mental health programs throughout the country. He is also internationally recognized as an expert in war-related PTSD with more than 250 publications, presentations, and appearances on the subject.

His trilogy captures three separate experiences in Vietnam both as a veteran and scholar, as well as the current issues with war-related trauma post 9/11 and in the Iraqi conflict.

Having shared in the sudden changes on the coast since Katrina, Scurfield has also offered free PTSD counseling and workshops to local staff, faculty, and students on the coast. He calls the Gulf Coast “a war zone without the gunfire,” and says people are still dealing with the emotional effects of the sudden changes.

Scurfield’s second volume features his study abroad sponsored by the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000, integrating students and combat veterans in a combined history and mental health curriculum. Scurfield offers a detailed analysis of the benefits and shortcomings in veterans returning to the location.

The book also confronts three important aspects of war and veteran readjustment: wounded veteran’s experience of evacuation and treatment; the racism and its inculcation during basic to dehumanize the enemy; and the “collusion of silence” that often occurs in government and society regarding the “full human impact of war.”

“When the study abroad came along… I said to myself, ‘If I’m ever going to write a book it needs to be now.’ Then (after 9/11 and the Iraqi conflict happened), I realized that much of what I had written about and understand has not been incorporated and applied (to Iraq), so I said, ‘I can’t stop with my 2000 trip. I’ve got to bring this up to the current day.’”

With the third volume (anticipated to be released in October) featuring trauma-related effects in post 9/11 and Iraq, Scurfield says he expects more of an interest than in the first two. However, he says the former two provide powerful content for mental health professionals and “people who really want to know the impact of war on military personnel.”

“I’ve gone out of my way to try and not make this a dry academic book. There are a lot of vignettes and first person things, and people talking as they’re having their experiences. I think that it’s a book that is much easier to read, and I think the content is much richer this way.”

For more information about PTSD, go to http://www.usm.edu/socialwork/ or contact Dr. Ray Scurfield at ray.scurfield@usm.edu.

July 5, 2006 2:34 PM

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