If this NYT story by Nicholas D. Kristof doesn’t break your heart, there’s something wrong with you:
HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.
An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.
Read the article. Read particularly the individual family case study used as an example.
As the PTSD rate increases dramatically, America exits one war and maintains another only to contemplate a third. Our forces are strained to the limit, equipped and trained as they are for World War III (or greater; I don’t want an argument about the numbering scheme) when in fact they are sent to fight small wars of aggression that do not contribute materially to America’s security, but boy, do they contribute to the profits of defense contractors and to the patriotic image of flag-waving candidates for high public office.
For the health and well-being of America’s youth, the last thing we need is more war. But more war is very likely what we are going to get, and with it, more returning veterans with PTSD, finding themselves unable to cope with daily life, killing themselves precipitously by stepping in front of trains or slowly by drugs and alcohol. Someone… a whole lot of someones… is not doing a good job of preparing these young men and women on either end of their tours, entry into combat and re-entry into civil society on their return. Whatever becomes of the US in the next decade or two, we will have lost an unconscionably large fraction of the younger generation.
It’s simply not worth it. These stupid wars have got to come to an end. While the American people understand the folly of continuing endless war; America’s leaders seem prepared to continue them indefinitely, as vehicles of personal political power and sources of defense contractor money. This must end. What major party will do the job? What individual can ever find the leverage as president? Not a Republican, certainly, and not a Democrat, equally certainly. Will it take a catastrophe of nation-shattering proportions before we stop wasting our young people like this?
(H/T Michael Moore for the Kristof link.)