The day, almost nine years ago, when planes were flown into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania was horrendous, no matter how one sees it. Whether it was terrorists from Southeast Asia, the US government or something else, thousands of lives were lost. The toll that this took on the families of the victims especially, but on the entire country as well, was devastating. The people controlling our lives (we can call them politicians or CEOs) decided that this was a perfect opportunity to go to war with the majority of the world. They played videos of the planes going into the towers over and over, they hyped up xenophobia, and the US public bought it hook line and sinker.
It has almost been almost nine years since the first US troops landed in Afghanistan for the official start of the War on Terror. In these past nine years, hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children have had their lives altered on battlefields in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, and who knows where else. Some have spend months witnessing murders, rapes, genocide, torture, and we can only imagine what else. Many have had to go back twice, thrice, or even four times and we are finally getting the bill. The vast majority of the people who join the military – especially after 9/11 – do so with good intentions; they want to protect their country. They are brought up to believe that the invisible line that separates the US from the rest of the world is real. Not only is it real, but it is there to make sure the best people in the world have a place to live. This way of life – freedom and riches – must be protected. Whether or not these people still believe these things, their lives are changed; they have witnessed horrible, horrible things and will never be the same.
Many of these combat experienced soldiers are now walking the streets of the US. They have been through what most of us don’t even have nightmares of, and now they are taking it out on their families, friends, and total strangers. They have been taught (probably from the time of birth, as US culture mirrors – to a less intense degree maybe – military culture) that what they did or saw was right. If it fucked them up, they are to deal with it like men (even if they’re women) and keep it to themselves. They are told that the general population won’t understand and that if they ask for help, they are unAmerican pussies. However, over the past months more and more soldiers are seeking help. I’m not one to quote statistics too much, but if you read this article you can get that side of it. Some bases, like Ft Hood (discussed in the above mentioned article) are constantly hiring more and more shrinks because the ones they have are working six days per week with full schedules.
Despite a record number of vets seeking professional help (and therefore a record number of vets on prescription meds) there are still tens of thousands of them keeping their problems – their nightmares, their flashbacks – to themselves. I’m not sure what the solution is, but if the soldiers who are seeing shrinks are getting helped, then more shrinks need to be provided at whatever cost. Unfortunately, the military is given very little money for things like this. Trillions are being spent on fighting wars, on locking people in holes, and on inventing new and unheard of ways to kill whole populations, but there isn’t much to spare when it comes to helping the pawns who are involved in all of this.
Obviously an end to war, an end to a standing military, and an end to US global hegemony would stop most of these problems, but we obviously aren’t there yet. Before we get there we will have to deal with all of these men and women roaming the streets (assuming they don’t commit suicide, which is at record numbers among combat experienced vets). I don’t know what it’s like to witnesses the things that these people have witnessed, but I do know that we should all be doing everything in our power to help them through whatever it is they are going through.