Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming for Veterans the Focus of Keynotes May 13 on Campus

Dr. Jonathan Shay, a nationally recognized psychologist and author of two popular books on combat trauma and the trials of homecoming for veterans and their families, will give two public addresses at the University of Maine on May 13.

Shay will speak to the Fifth Annual Conference of the Maine Military & Community Network at 9 a.m. on, “Psychology and Moral Injury in War.” He also will give a 6 p.m. keynote address, “Combat Trauma and the Trials of Coming Home.” Both are in Wells Conference Center on campus.

Shay, one of the nation’s leading authorities on combat trauma and the trials of homecoming, is a psychiatrist who has specialized in treating combat veterans. He was a staff psychiatrist in the Department of Veterans Affairs Outpatient Clinic in Boston. He is in Maine for three days of meetings with veterans groups and community supporters, and public talks.

In his research, Shay found that viewing the experiences of combat veterans from perspectives found in Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” provide insight into both PTSD and what he has come to term “moral injury.” These insights led him to write “Achilles in Vietnam: Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character” (1994), and “Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming” (2002).

Shay is a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant. In 1999–2000 he led the Commandant of the Marine Corps Trust Study; in 2001, he was visiting scholar-at-large at the U.S. Naval War College; 2004–05, he was chair of ethics, leadership and personnel policy in the Office of the U.S. Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, and was the 2009 Omar Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College.

His visit to Maine is sponsored by the Maine Infantry Foundation, Maine Military & Community Network, Acadia Hospital, the University of Maine Humanities Center, the Bangor Daily News, and the law firms of Verrill & Dana in Portland, and Vafiades, Brountas & Kominsky in Bangor. The goals of the Odysseus in Maine project are to raise awareness about combat veterans’ experiences; train providers in best practices for serving combat veterans; forge a “way ahead” in dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder and other combat-related injuries; and instill an ethical leadership model.

Shay will be in Portland May 12, speaking to members of the Maine State Bar Association and the Maine Judiciary. The talk will keynote a Maine State Bar Association Veterans Committee continuing legal education programming exploring the Maine Veterans Court and related issues of importance to legal challenges faced by Maine’s veterans.

He also will meet with local veterans and counselors on the final day of his Maine visit.