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Bigmack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-28-07 11:09 AM
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Paying the price for the war....
November 27, 2007
Soldiers pay price for unjust war
Post Intelligencer GUEST COLUMNIST

On Nov. 14, the Seattle P-I published an article titled "Iraq vets may suffer depression, stress," highlighting how the effects of war on those who fought in it are taking time to surface. The article also cites a study that estimates "About 42 percent of the Guard and reserves, compared to 20 percent of active-duty troops, were identified as needing mental health treatment in two screenings."

The day after this article was published, CBS News featured its own research regarding Iraq veterans being twice as likely to commit suicide than their non-vet peers.
Unfortunately, all of that should have been anticipated well in advance by policy-makers who march youths off to fight in distant wars that are unjustified and, as a result, unforgiving. The life-changing consequences of participating in those types of immoral wars have been evident for years among the ranks of Vietnam veterans and are now hitting the Iraq veteran population like the plague.

The Veterans Affairs documents the plight of Vietnam veterans on its National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Web site: "The estimated lifetime prevalence of PTSD among American Vietnam theater veterans is 30.9 percent for men and 26.9 percent for women. An additional 22.5 percent of men and 21.2 percent of women have had partial PTSD at some point in their lives. Thus, more than half of all male Vietnam veterans and almost half of all female Vietnam veterans -- about 1,700,000 Vietnam veterans in all -- have experienced clinically serious stress reaction symptoms."

The blunt end of this phenomenon known as PTSD was first realized within the suicide rates of Vietnam combat veterans. According to the government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, combat Vietnam veterans within five years of leaving the service had a suicide rate 72 percent higher than that of other Vietnam-era veterans who did not actually serve in Vietnam. We should not be too shocked at the present doubling of suicide rates among Iraq vets over that of the general population.
No doubt other costs suffered by Vietnam veterans and their families will soon be, if not already, kicking down the front doors of the homes of Iraq war veterans and those who love them.

According to studies documented on the VA's National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Web site:
"42 percent of Vietnam veterans had engaged in at least one act of violence against their partner during the preceding year, and 92 percent had committed at least one act of verbal aggression in the preceding year."

"PTSD can also affect the mental health and life satisfaction of a veteran's partner. Numerous studies have found that partners of veterans with PTSD or other combat stress reactions have a greater likelihood of developing their own mental health problems compared to partners of veterans without these stress reactions."

"Approximately 38 percent of Vietnam veteran marriages failed within six months of the veteran's return from Southeast Asia. Rates of divorce for veterans with PTSD were two times greater than for veterans without PTSD. Moreover, veterans with PTSD were three times more likely than veterans without PTSD to divorce two or more times."

"The estimated lifetime prevalence of alcohol abuse or dependence among male (Vietnam) theater veterans is 39.2 percent."

I have a neighbor who fought in World War II who tells me that every day he still sees images in his head of dead buddies, but has never really wrestled with his own deadly deeds. My neighbor and his unit helped liberate Holocaust survivors they found in the Treblinka concentration camp, an act that provides relief and a type of forgiveness that helps cover his traumatic wounds. In contrast, Vietnam and now Iraq vets have to deal with not only the living nightmares of fallen brothers, but also the festering emotional wounds intensified by images of countless dead Vietnamese and Iraqi civilians -- who collectively died without moral justification.

Vietnam vets felt alienated from a society that condemned their participation in a war that lacked a justification and therefore void of personal resolve.

Iraq veterans are now retreating into their own hell, a reality ruled by PTSD that is now, or soon will be, shrouded in guilt as those younger vets become increasingly aware of what they have done.

David Lynn of Union is an ex-Marine sergeant and combat Vietnam veteran. He worked in Iraq as an independent photographer during the initial bombing and invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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