It was up less than a day, but for a while the New York Times offered an article about how the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were ripping army families apart and prompting suicides.
This horrible side-effect has been going on for years, but somehow eluded the big media spotlight. Apparently, the powers that be don’t want the public to hear about brave warriors turning into wife-beaters and Russian roulette psychos.
But Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist assigned to counsel shell-shocked veterans, went on a bloody rampage at Ft. Hood, mass-murdering his fellow soldiers, and so the issue of mental damage screamed for attention. Hence, an article popped up, albeit briefly. Part of it went as follows:
“Fort Hood is still reeling from last week’s carnage, in which an Army psychiatrist is accused of a massacre that left 13 people dead. But in the town of Killeen and other surrounding communities, the attack, one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in the United States, is also seen by many as another blow in an area that has been beset by crime and violence since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Reports of domestic abuse have grown by 75 percent since 2001. At the same time, violent crime in Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country.
(“At Army Base, Some Violence Is Too Familiar,” 11/10/09)
The article goes on to say:
“Since 2003, there have been 76 suicides by personnel assigned to Fort Hood, with 10 this year, according to military officials.”
Fallout from Afghanistan and Iraq destroys the minds of soldiers and threatens those near and dear. The article superbly makes this case. It also demonstrates that the military’s psychological safety net is a pathetic joke, one that effectively tells traumatized soldiers they’re alone and valueless, unless they can still do their job; that is, act like cold obedient killing machines. To hell with what you’re feeling, just be a robot.
What the article doesn’t do is point out WHY the soldiers are coming home mentally crippled. Part of the answer is the obvious horror embedded in the act of pulling the trigger, or just seeing the mangled dead, some of them buddies, some of them just innocent. Who wants to see a five-year-old’s splattered guts?
But there is another factor motivating the soldiers’ PTSD. It might even be the most important. Simply this: The soldiers are realizing that they have sold out their young and innocent hearts. They are dawning to the belief that these wars are unethical--alloyed with oil, ignorance, and political aims; and administered by a callous bureaucracy, which counts dead bodies as if stacking coins.
Imagine: You’re 18 years old and embrace the goals of Freedom, Democracy, and Truth. You’re sent off to fight Evil. But when you get there, and wet your hands with blood, and stain your mind with guilty nightmares, it becomes clear that you have been tricked. Used like a pawn by your government. You’re an expendable chunk of muscle in a power struggle that has little to do with ultimate ideals, and a lot to do with dirty politics and jaded old men sitting in plush chairs under tarnished capital domes.
You realize that you’ve sold your soul. You can’t just go back to being naïve or even hopeful. You’ve obediently done what the Lord of War ordered. But the Lord of War is not the God you thought. He is the collective will of an old boy club, politicians and generals who seem dark, bloody, and uncaring. except for their power lust.
You’re broken. You feel it inside. A real weight. Broken heart, broken spirit, broken trust. You can’t go back. Your spirit is gone. Stolen by a Force that seized what it wanted from you.
What you get in return is some money. Not much. The equivalent of the thirty pieces of silver tossed to Judas. The rest of your life will be the life of a shell. You traded the goodness inside you for a lie and some cash. Your virtue has been ripped out of you. The conscience that cradled it is in tatters.
That is why soldiers are killing lovers and committing suicide. They were swindled in the sanctum of their hearts. They might not consciously realize this; but down inside they know. It manifests in their torn dreams and blasts of rage.
They’ve sold their souls to someone, or some entity, who seems now to be an agent of the Devil.