Trauma of war

Rachel Saunders
5 min readFeb 23, 2024
Photo by Ahmed akacha:

Masters of the Air and Halo season 2 both show the trauma of war in ways that mirror the current Gaza and Ukraine wars, yet even with all the special effects in the world and decent writing they fail to bring the true gravity of war home to viewers. In December 2022 I was fortunate enough to spend two weeks with fifteen Ukrainian PhD students, all of them had personal connections to the ongoing war. While they did not talk specifically about their emotional experiences for most of that time, on the last night we went for a meal and those emotions came to the fore in a quiet, understated way. Most of us are fortunate to have never experienced war, myself included, yet over the course of those two weeks it was clear that whatever we on the outside may think about war is something at odds to the actual lived reality of it. War is a crime against the human condition precisely because it diminishes all of us, and its trauma never disappears for those who have lived through it.

Master of the Air does tell the tale of arbitrary death and trauma, showing the random nature of the conflict in ways that make you question why war happens. It hammers home the message that some fights are necessary to stop moral evil, yet the price paid by those who survive is the trauma of living through those times. Few veterans talk about their experiences willingly, there is an adage that those who have not lived through it can never truly understand what they went through, which those of us on the outside keenly feel every time we attempt comprehend. It is not enough to read a book, watch a film, play game, real war has real consequences, ones which linger for the rest of participants lives.

Starship Troopers is in many respects the antithesis of a war movie, using satire to skewer the pomposity of those who clamour for war or urge the young to fight. There is no glory in war, no suffering worth the price all participants go through. War, and the traumas inflicted by war, is not some mythic rite of passage that the young must go through, it is a curse on those who revel in its brutality. All who have not experienced it want to know what it is like to take part, on the understanding that they are at a safe distance away from the actual killing and possibility of being killed. Starship Troopers highlights the absurdity of this desire, using bugs to couch hate and fear less human terms, allowing the…