Army Major Annette Whittenberg served two tours, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan as a chemical officer, tasked with training soldiers how to defend against chemical, biological and radiation-based weapons. She and Michael start off by talking about the relative youth of the average enlistee and that level of service when coupled with risk-taking behaviours, as an organization we may not be doing right by those that serve. Later on, Annette opens up about her own experience in command how it shapes her own PTSD symptoms.
The pair get into how the nature of war for the past decades has changed how we treat veterans and their issues as they return. There’s a lack of appreciation for expeditionary forces, and we tend to over-emphasize the negative aspects of US foreign policy.
Annette’s journey since retirement has been a rocky one, she’s begun writing about her personal issues as a means of exorcising her own demons around PTSD and suicidal tendencies. She discusses the nature of her suffering and how she’s trying to balance speaking out against being sensitive to others.
This episode contains frank discussions of suicide and mental illness.