Sunday, November 7, 2010
I'm sure you've seen the statistics--increased suicides, domestic violence, child abuse--among our returning veterans. Then there's traumatic injury, higher survival rates due to advances in medicine, PTSD.
I took this picture at a Veterans Day parade in New York several years ago. The man was a Vietnam War vet. I'm reading the book Matterhorn by Carl Marlantes, a very realistic and graphic look at that war. And no matter how you look at it, war is an ugly, inhumane business. A huge, complicated business venture.
There are women in wars now too, but I want to look for a minute at the indoctrination that happens mostly to our male children. We give them video games at young ages where they shoot, kill, and maim imaginary characters. They play these games competitively with their peers, cheering at every death. They play at home, they play in stores while they wait for their parents to shop, they play on their phones and their televisions. Death has no meaning.
Then some of the join the military. We beat them down and wear them out, give them guns and send them to war. And when they come back? What do we do for them once they've realized that killing people isn't all that much fun?
I believe that if we're going to continue on this insane warrior path we've been walking as long as man has existed, then we'd better come up with a way to deal with our soldiers when they come back from doing the job we asked them to do. Only a handful of them will voluntarily seek mental health care--it's not the warrior way--but I believe that the government should require and pay for a minimum of two years of mental health care for every returning military person. We've brought them home from a brutal arena, thrown them and their families into the worst economic situation since the Great Depression, then we read the papers and watch the news and wonder why these guys are harming themselves and their families.
I've written a couple of Congressmen about sponsoring a bill to make this as available as the GI Bill was to our WWII and Vietnam vets. We owe these men and women something. And their sanity is the least of it.