8.08.2005

On craziness . . .

There are really only two or three matters on which I am an expert. Craziness is one of them.

First, from Cursor today,
Two Iraq vets killed themselves in Texas, another killed his wife and himself in Colorado, and Stars and Stripes reports on "a significant barrier to troops seeking mental-health care."
Here's the link and excerpt from that last reference, from Stars and Stripes
A landmark 2004 study by researchers from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research — thought to be one of the first to examine battle-related psychological problems of active-duty soldiers — found that there was a significant barrier to troops seeking mental-health care.

The barrier, according to the study of more than 6,100 soldiers and Marines who’d deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, was the belief that seeking counseling would harm military careers and stigmatize armed forces members as weak. Fifty percent of troops in that study showing symptoms of mental-health problems said it would be bad for their career to see a counselor; 65 percent said they’d be perceived as weak; and 63 percent said commanders would treat them differently.
In the mid- and late-70's, I treated (as best I could) hundreds of 'Namvets who re-entered the world addicted to smack. When I saw them, they were nominally no longer heroin addicts. They had been "treated" for that by the VA system, but all too frequently had been told that "a few drinks to take the edge off" was OK. I was treating all these folks for alcoholism. Treating alcoholism's a bitch under any conditions, but the problem here was that smack and alcohol had masked serious emotional and mental problems developed during their tours. I lost many of these folks to suicide and others to complete but non-fatal mental disintegration. We are already seeing an upsurge of violent episodes in military communities as vets return from Afghanistan and Iraq. Living in an area near several large bases, I'm more terrified of these brave, poor folks than of the possibility of a "terrorist" attack.

There is, I'm afraid, under Rummy Rumsfeld, less likelihood than ever that the military will lovingly and effectively help these people. You can see it Rummy's eyes . . . it's all just collateral damage. Because we have become a society more interested in Jessica Simpson than in the health and safety of our military, and because we want to keep taxes low so we can afford to fill our SUV tanks with expensive, stolen oil, we will all pay a heavy price. Sad beyond comprehension.

In her post yesterday, Morgaine (who keeps hitting the nail on the head) asks how we can help each other without supporting neoconservative "ideals" and institutions. I can only say "ditto". I'd appreciate some discussion on this, too.