Monday, January 14, 2008

The war at home

We (and countless others) have warned about this.

And now, courtesy of those who brought us the preemptive invasion of Iraq, it's happening: the violence is following us home.

No, no, no -- not in the form of terrorists (or non-terrorists) attacking the U.S. on our own soil. Rather, it's murders being committed by our troops who failed to receive adequate treatment for symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People were warned. Our government was warned. Our political leaders were warned.

Their warnings were not heeded. And this is the result:

Traumatised Veterans 'Have Killed 120 in US'

by Stephen Foley

Published on Monday, January 14, 2008 by The Independent/UK



While public anger is directed at the Pentagon for sending American soldiers
ill-prepared to fight in Iraq, an equally troubling problem is rearing its head
at home. Military veterans are returning from the war zone just as ill-prepared
for civilian life and dozens suffering from post-traumatic stress are committing
murder and manslaughter.

A new study has identified more than 120 killings committed by veterans of the
Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as psychologically troubled soldiers slip through the
net of an overextended military mental health system.

The study, which was conducted from examining local news reports, and which may
well dramatically understate the scale of the problem, suggested that killings
by military veterans have almost doubled since the start of the wars.

The stories are harrowing. About a third involve the killing of a spouse,
girlfriend or other relative, among them two-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis,
whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating
from a bombing near Fallujah that blew off his foot and damaged his brain.

Many others implicate drink and drugs, an increasing refuge for veterans
traumatised by deaths they have witnessed or caused during the
counter-insurgency led by American troops. The US government is being sued by
relatives of 25-year-old Marine Lucas Borges, who became addicted to inhaling
ether after a tour of Iraq at the beginning of the war, and who was convicted of
second degree murder for crashing his car into an vehicle while driving the
wrong way down a motorway, killing the other driver and injuring four others.

Collectively, the stories attest to the inadequacies of the US military mental
health system, which a Pentagon task force last year described as "woefully
understaffed", poorly funded and undermined by the stigma still attached to
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The disorder has been a major concern
since veterans' associations found that 15 per cent of Vietnam vets still
suffered from PTSD a decade after the conflict ended in 1975.

The study of killings by military veterans was conducted by The New York Times.
It showed an 89 percent increase - from 184 cases to 349 - in the six years
following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan in the number of homicides involving
active-duty military personnel and new veterans. About three-quarters of these
cases involved Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

The New York Times said its study was conservative. "This reporting most likely
uncovered only the minimum number of such cases, given that not all killings,
especially in big cities and on military bases, are reported publicly or in
detail," it added.

© 2008 The Independent

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/01/14/6364/

[If you follow the link to CommonDreams.org, you'll find a discussion following
this article.]

1 comment:

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