The Interdisciplinary Humanities Center will kick off the lecture series “Fallout: In the Aftermath of War,” which discusses post-deployment issues such as post- traumatic stress disorder, today at 4 p.m. in the McCune Conference Room of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building.
For the series’ first installment, history professor John Talbott will discuss the mental health issues many soldiers face when returning home in a lecture entitled “War in History and Memory.” The series will include four additional events over the next month, including a screening of Where Soldiers Come From next Tuesday in the McCune Conference Room and further lectures covering a wide range of topics by journalists, filmmakers, mental health professionals, scholars and artists who have experienced life in warfare. All events will touch on how soldiers can, or already have, handled issues of post-traumatic stress disorder and post-deployment acclimation.
Associate history professor John Lee said Talbott’s upcoming lecture will focus primarily on past conflicts but will also delve into issues surrounding ongoing wars overseas.
“His talk will range from ancient Greece to the 21st century and will explore how people have remembered and written about war. … I hope that many students will attend these events and learn more about the experiences of Americans and others in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Lee said. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are often forgot- ten by today’s students and these events provide essential perspective.”
According to IHC Director Susan Derwin, a professor of comparative literature and Germanic studies, the cur- rent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to have lost their relevance for many despite their continuing effects.
“Over the last decade, public interest in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has only been sporadic,” Derwin said in an e-mail. “This is understandable, given that the United Sates has an all-volunteer military comprising less than one percent of the population. It is therefore also not surprising that these wars have been of peripheral concern to the UCSB campus.”
In spite of such apathy, Derwin said these conflicts have cost $3 trillion in borrowed money and have involved 2.4 million U.S. service members while claiming the lives of nearly 5,000 soldiers. Today, at least one million veterans are dealing with wounds, diseases or chronic physical and mental conditions resulting from service in Afghanistan or Iraq.
In addition, there is a considerably large community of veterans in the Santa Barbara area, with 100 veterans enrolled at UCSB and 300 at SBCC, Derwin said.
“California is home to the largest veteran population in the country,” Derwin said in an e-mail. “About 30,000 veterans live in Santa Barbara County, some of whom currently remain in their units of the National Guard or Active Reserves while studying at UCSB.”
According to Gina Funderburgh, UCSB Veterans Services Certifying Official at the Office of the Registrar, Fallout has acted as a space for individuals to reflect and analyze the last decade of global conflict.
“The series provides an extraordinary opportunity for our campus community, student veterans, military loved ones, staff and faculty to come together for a broader range of awareness surrounding this topic,” Funderburgh said. “The Veterans Benefit Services unit is eagerly promoting the series in hopes that many of our students will participate and learn more about our military communities and the levels of sacrifice and commitment so many have made to ensure our country’s freedom.”