‘Visions of Warriors’ brings attention to ongoing PTSD concerns for veterans

By: Nathan Long, President, Saybrook University

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reportedly affects approximately 7.7 million American adults, with members of the military as one of the high-risk groups. After experiencing severe trauma or life-threatening events, the mind and body will either go into mobilization mode (fight-or-flight) or immobilization. When the nervous system is unable to return to its normal state of balance, PTSD occurs. Depression, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders are often connected to instances of PTSD, particularly for veterans returning from war.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the reported cases of PTSD are jarring and continue to rise. A range of 12 to 30 percent of veterans were diagnosed with PTSD in a given year, including those from Operations Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Enduring Freedom (OEF), the Gulf War (Desert Storm), and the Vietnam War.

Susan Quaglietti, who is currently in the Ph.D. in Psychology: Creativity Studies Specialization program at Saybrook, has been a nurse since 1978 and identified a need to do something creative to help the mental state of veterans.

The 2016 film “Visions of Warriors”—showing at the Vail Film Festival on March 31 and April 1, and the 15th Oakland International Film Festival on April 5—features Quaglietti’s work to develop the Veteran Photo Recovery Project, which uses photography to help veterans cope with PTSD and other mental illness diagnoses.

Our team sat down with her to discuss her background, her most memorable moments with veterans in the program, and what drew her to Saybrook later in life. Read the full interview here.