Emory Report
April 6, 2009
Volume 61, Number 26


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April 6
, 2009
‘Classroom’ turns attention to military

By Margie Fishman

In 1861, a small college in Oxford, Ga. shuttered after students and faculty marched off to war. Five years later, a devastated campus made the decision to begin again.

During World War I, Emory nurses and physicians joined a hospital Army unit based in France. Navy enlistees outnumbered students 2-to-1 during World War II. And in 1953, plummeting enrollments from the Korean War gave women the chance to attend Emory.

Emory could not help but be shaped by war, said Vice President Gary Hauk, speaking at the sixth annual Classroom on the Quad April 1. Today, though, military uniforms seem out of place on campus.

This year’s event, “The Status and Future of Military Service,” featured an academic panel on the “after-effects” of war, a high school drill team twirling 9-pound rifles, and veteran faculty, students and staff speaking about their journey to national service, from legacy recruit to riled draftee.

Lt. Gen. David Poythress ’67L discussed how military service has evolved from a rite of passage in the mid-century to a sophisticated, aspirational organization today. Modern warfare expert Peter (P.W.) Singer delivered the keynote address on the ethical implications of changing technologies on the battlefield, such as unmanned drones.

For the second consecutive year, rain forced the Student Government Association to move the event indoors. Roughly 80 people rotated through the Law School’s Tull Auditorium during the afternoon. SGA had to cancel a photo exhibit highlighting Emory’s relationship to war and tables for student groups. A book drive for students to send textbooks, novels and DVDs to troops overseas has been extended another week.

Aware that military service is off the radar for most students, speakers emphasized other avenues for civic engagement, such as the United States Agency for International Development and AmeriCorps.

“We were making this a non-partisan event about service and sacrifice rather than a political event of whether this war was warranted,” said Jeremy Barr, SGA chief of staff.

Veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) not only experience a traumatic event, but are continually “haunted” by it, said Barbara Rothbaum, director of the Trauma and Anxiety Recovery Program at the School of Medicine. Rothbaum noted that one of her patients refused to go to sleep because he was so afraid of his nightmares. Virtual reality therapy, such as Humvee or city scene simulations, can help veterans confront their memories.

In the audience, Cynthia Shaw, assistant dean for campus life, said she was not aware of the extensive treatments for PTSD, along with the mental health resources available for children of soldiers.

“I always think of the people that are left behind, and what does that do to them?” said Shaw, who directs the Office of Student Leadership and Service.

Admittedly anti-war, Candler Professor of Psychology Marshall Duke served as an army psychologist from 1968 to 1970 during the Vietnam War.

“I probably learned more in those two years than I would have in 20,” he said.