Fri Jun 29, 2012, 06:24 PM
sad sally (2,627 posts)
Mad, Bad, Sad What’s Really Happened to America’s Soldiers
Poster's note: thanks for taking time to read this excellent article by Nan Levinson. There is almost no official daily news about what the men and women who are engaged in America's wars are faced with, and unless you have a loved one or friend in the military, the wars seem to be forgotten. This article is a reminder - war isn't kind; war isn't over for many even when they're no longer in battle.
"PTSD is going to color everything you write," came the warning from a stepmother of a Marine, a woman who keeps track of such things. That was in 2005, when post-traumatic stress disorder, a.k.a. PTSD, wasn’t getting much attention, but soon it was pretty much all anyone wrote about. Story upon story about the damage done to our guys in uniform — drinking, divorce, depression, destitution — a laundry list of miseries and victimhood. When it comes to veterans, it seems like the only response we can imagine is to feel sorry for them.
Victim is one of the two roles we allow our soldiers and veterans (the other is, of course, hero), but most don’t have PTSD, and this isn’t one of those stories.
Theoretically, whole countries go to war, not just their soldiers, but not this time. Civilian sympathy for "the troops" may be just one more way for us to avoid a real reckoning with our last decade-plus of war, when the hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown up on the average American’s radar only if somebody screws up or noticeable numbers of Americans get killed. The veterans at the heart of this story — victims, heroes, it doesn’t matter – struggle to reconcile what they did in those countries with the "service" we keep thanking them for. We can see them as sick, with all the stigma, neediness, and expense that entails, or we can recognize them as human beings, confronting the morality of what they’ve done in our name and what they’ve seen and come to know — even as they try to move on.
When your job requires you to pull sleeping families from their beds at midnight thousands of miles from your home, or to shoot at oncoming cars without knowing who’s driving them, or to refuse medical care to decrepit old men, you begin to question what doing your job means. When the reasons keep shifting for what you’re supposed to be doing in a country where most of the population wants you to go home even more than you want to, it’s hard to maintain any sense of innocence. When someone going about his daily life is regularly mistaken for someone who means to kill you — as has repetitively been the case in our occupations of both Iraq and Afghanistan — everyone becomes the enemy. And when you try — and fail — to do the right thing in a chaotic and threatening situation, which nothing could have trained you for, the enemy can move inside you and stay there for a very long time.
the rest at:http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2012/06/28/mad-bad-sad/
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