The theme of many poems in Brian Turner’s collection Phantom Noise is the mark left on soldiers by the horrific realities of war. Poems such as “At Lowe’s Home Improvement Center,” “Perimeter Watch,” and “Phantom Noise” all give concrete imagery to the abstract concept of PTSD, which is difficult to understand without experiencing it.
By putting his experiences into words (like fallen nails turning firing pins at a Lowe’s, or staring out into the night around your yard like a sentry on guard duty), Turner takes ownership of them. I don’t know if any of these poems are autobiographical, but even if their stories were composed from things he heard from buddies, even if they were fabricated for the sake of the poetry, they still establish something for a PTSD-suffering veteran to relate to.
A couple of years ago, NPR did a story about the use of Greek tragedies like The Iliad and Ajax in a sort of group therapy session for soldiers with PTSD. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97413320
“The plays can reassure a soldier, [says Brigadier General Loree Sutton], ‘that I am not alone, that I am not going crazy, that I am joined by the ages of warriors and their loved ones who’ve gone before me, and who have done what most in society have no idea our warriors do.'”