Thursday, August 04, 2005

The Ugly Specter of PTSD

Being in a war, any war, will create conditions of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) with just about anyone, assuming they are human. When you send people off to a war based on deliberate deceptions, distortions and lies, as is what has been unleashed in Iraq, and was in Vietnam, the specter of PTSD rises to an entirely new level.

This we are now seeing taking place with those who have been compelled to go to Iraq--or face imprisonment as what happened to Kevin Benderman when he refused a second deployment to Iraq. This has got to be the ultimate “Catch—22.” If one follows orders and goes to Iraq, there is a high probability of disease, PTSD and Depleted Uranium contamination; not to mention the chances of getting shot or blown up. If one refuses to deploy, or in some case refuses a re-deployment, like Kevin Benderman, the military will tag you a “criminal” and throw that person in prison.

Like I said, the ultimate “Catch-22,” damned if you do and damned if you don’t. In the meantime there are thousands of ticking tomb-bombs walking around back from combat, with PTSD and a gross lack of treatment as the military and the VA are not there for these people coming back from Iraq just as they were not there for us that came back from Vietnam. Only we the people of this nation can stop this, but we must set aside whatever differences we may have and join together as the very same Bush/Cheney & Co., Inc. is killing us all, and this nation. Don’t forget the mass rally this Sept. 24-26 in Washington, D.C. See you there?--Jack

Many GIs come back with mental wounds

By David Hoskins

The U.S.-led occupation of Iraq continues to take its toll--not only on Iraqi civilians but also on the mental as well as physical health of U.S. soldiers.A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. troops returned from combat zones revealed that 30 percent of them have developed combat-related mental health problems, ranging from depression to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Combat-induced psychoses are to blame for over 33 soldier suicides since the beginning of 2003.

The mental health disorders of military personnel arise from the brutality of combat and the sense of helplessness felt on the front lines of battle. The military deploys a variety of techniques in an attempt to strip soldiers of their humanity and transform them into instruments of war.

These techniques include combat simulation meant to desensitize new recruits. Other applications, such as instrumentation command, allow trainees to simulate a range of operations, from the piloting of F-117 stealth jets to the execution of indirect-fire mission exercises. But it's nothing like real combat situations.

The bulk of the U.S. fighting force comes from the working class, including communities of color. It would be natural for these soldiers to feel empathy toward their oppressed counterparts on the opposite side of the battle line, despite the desensitization training. The horror of being surrounded with bloodshed and death is aggravated by the realization that the troops are seen as occupiers, not liberators.

The stress associated with this realization can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Psychological problems such as depression and PTSD are one manifestation. Resistance is the other.Fragging, a form of resistance that involves the elimination of superior officers by their subordinate troops, has resurfaced in the Iraq conflict. The specter of fragging raised its head in June with the alleged killing of two U.S. Army officers by a staff sergeant.

During the Vietnam War there were 788 confirmed cases of fragging between 1969 and 1972. Eighty four of these ended in the deaths of the targeted officers. Other methods of resistance included desertion, failure to report for redeployment and mutiny. They also have reappeared with the latest Iraq war.

Resistance is a healthy psychological response to the disregard for human life on the part of military brass. It provides a catharsis from the degradation soldiers are forced to mete out against the populations they occupy, and are forced to endure themselves at the hands of the brass.

Military medical officials have sought to downplay the severity of the problem, insisting that a few dozen combat stress control teams can adequately respond to soldiers´ mental health needs.This approach fails to address the root of the problem: people who join the military want to feel pride and contribute to their family’s safety. The realization that they are simply pawns in an imperial chess match can undermine soldiers´ mental stability.

The best solution for soldiers´ mental health needs is the fulfillment of the Iraqi peoples demand for an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops and an end to the occupation. Short of that it is up to individual soldiers to reclaim their humanity and their sanity by resisting this unjust war.

See the following for more information on PTSD:

VVA’s Guide on PTSD


Blogger Edward said...

I personally knew two Viet Nam Vets who took their own life because of the demons they came home with. I know many more who surrendered their lives to hopeless alcoholism, drug addiction and homelessness because the torment of the horror they witnessed could be escaped no other way. Yeah, we really know how to care for those who have served in harms way. NOT!

Thu Aug 04, 10:39:00 PM  

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