In 1980, years after the last troops returned home from Vietnam, the military and medical establishments put a name on the psychiatric sequelae that have afflicted soldiers for as long as there has been war—post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Documented since the time of Homer and variously known as nostalgia, combat fatigue and shell shock, it is marked by anxiety, flashbacks, irritability and withdrawal from society, among other symptoms. In our cover story we examine ptsd and its implications for troops coming home from Iraq. To find out what has been learned about ptsd and how the experience of Vietnam veterans is helping today’s troops, writer Cathy Shufro spoke with Vietnam and Iraq veterans as well as psychiatrists and social workers at Yale and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven.
We also look back half a century to the days when parents kept children away from public pools and beaches in the summertime. Polio was a dread disease, but scientists were getting closer to discerning how it acted and how to prevent it. Among those scientists was the late Dorothy M. Horstmann, M.D., FW’43, a member of the Yale Poliomyelitis Study Unit, who made a key discovery about polio antibodies that paved the way for development of vaccines. We asked David M. Oshinsky, Ph.D., a historian at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of Polio, An American Story, to profile the first woman to become a professor of medicine at Yale.
Finally, in this issue we profile Robert J. Alpern, M.D., who took over as dean almost a year and a half ago. As Yale Medicine’s editor, Michael Fitzsousa, reports, Alpern has spent the time assembling his management team, getting to know the medical school and launching a strategic plan to move the school forward.