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Immediately after our illegal invasion of Iraq, I listened to right-wing politicians praise or military. But there is a major problem. When troops come home from the battlefield, today’s fake Republicans abandon our veterans and their families. They ignore serious issues faced by the men and women who engage in battle. When they return home to their families, their mental and physical problems are mostly ignored. As a result, PTSD has become the most significant problem facing our military, who were forced to face as many as five deployments into the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think back to my father, who was in the U.S. Navy in WWII. He was abusive to my mother and me. As a raging alcoholic, he made our lives miserable. I hated him. Only in the last 20 years have I learned that he had Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Unfortunately, our politicians have ignored the seriousness of this problem, focusing primarily on physical injuries. Most physical injuries will heal, while mental problems will only worsen if untreated.
I admit that in the mid-20th century, few psychologists or psychiatrists understood the damage caused by living in a war zone and fearing for your life every moment. This is the first quarter of the 21st century, and we know better. Mental deficiencies have caused more harm to America’s veterans and their families than physical disease or injury.
The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq created the worst possible condition for PTSD. Our soldiers were returned to the war zones multiple times. I cannot imagine the fear and even anger experienced by these men and women. Questions similar to the ones asked about the Vietnam War began to emerge: “what were we fighting for?”
The problem became more serious when doctors in the Veterans Administration blamed the soldiers themselves for behavioral problems. Then, they used their service records against them.
Fact, since the attacks on 9/11, the number of suicides in the ranks of military personnel has become four times greater than the number of deaths in war zones. In June of this year, a report revealed that since the attacks on our nation, 7,057 members of our armed forces have died in battle. The number of suicides within the rank and file was 30,177.
“Even the very conservative estimate that I came up with, it’s horrifying,” Thomas Suitt, who wrote the paper for Brown University’s Cost of War Project, said in an interview with NPR. “We should really, really care.”
The government of the United States owes every veteran much more than they are willing to pay. They declare war and send young men and women to fight for them. When they return, they are all too frequently forgotten. This is a hidden fact, and something must be done about it.
Paying “lip service” to praise our veterans is nothing but hot air, the only thing our men and women in Washington are good at doing.
Once again, we learn that our government is less interested in its people than corporations and the super-rich.
Never forget that in 2020 Donald Trump was informed by the CIA and the DIA that Russia was paying a bounty to the Taliban for every American soldier killed in Afghanistan. The orange buffoon’s response offered more proof of where his loyalty was and to whom he paid homage: “I don’t believe it.” The bromance between Trump and Vladimir Putin continues.
Op-ed by James Turnage
NPR: Since 9/11, Military Suicides Are 4 Times Higher Than Deaths In War Operations; by Joe Hernandez
NPR: Missed Treatment: Soldiers With Mental Health Issues Dismissed For ‘Misconduct;’ by Daniel Zwerdling and Michael De Yonna
Mayo Clinic: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Featured and Top Image by Reese Brown Courtesy of Fort Belvoir Community Hospital’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of BBC World Service’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License