Soldiers, Contractors and the Killing Of Hope

I typically post this stuff elsewhere but this is something I couldn’t get off my mind since the Op Ed from Erik Prince.  

Some segments of our society would like you to think that sending mercenaries into Afghanistan equates to privately funded space exploration.  They would be wrong.  The continued trickle of soldiers and contractors into the Middle East is not only providing us with generations of people who will be radicalized but it is destroying good men and women who believed that the United States stood for something.  Now, it seems, our primary export is the killing of hope.

My day starts much like any other.  I trip over shoes and cats in the dark bedroom.  Maybe I dodge the invisible cat puke and maybe not.  I am now officially the CEO of picking up cat puke strictly based on the frequency and speed to which I can now do so, hopping on one foot, after I have stepped in it. For most people their morning more or less proceeds as follows:  coffee, let the dog out, get the kid up, rush to school, get the husband out the door and relax.

Except there is no relax in my equation. 

I am not most people.  That is something I tell myself so that I feel a little less angry on days when I desperately need to be a little less angry.  My real day is not relaxing in any form.  I am a caregiver to a post 9/11 combat disabled Veteran with PTSD, TBI and various physical injuries.

Still, it is frustrating because no one cares about what happens in my house. 

It’s really easy to bump into people with yellow ribbon magnets on the back of their cars or those who are willing to come up to my Veteran and thank him for his service.  Mostly though, no one in this country really cares.  The corporate war profiteers and politicians that are making these decisions don’t really care what happens to the people they send into this scenario.  They don’t really care what happens to the children watching the massacre in their streets.  Those problems are ten years off and by then they will be retired to their beachfront bungalow having the wait staff fill their bottomless margaritas.

This physically and mentally exhausts him.

Let that sink in…

Without compulsory service in this country like it exists in many others, in large part, the Americans will really never understand what it is like for a soldier that has to kill someone.  PTSD and TBI are easy to throw around acronyms without any real knowledge of what its like to continue to wage war at home.  Most Veterans go from in theater to back home in 24 hours or less with little to no transition.  Families are not prepared in advance for what to expect and the military system is still set up to shame Veterans into silence rather than facilitating healing.  Once out of service, the Veteran’s Administration is wholly unprepared for the very thing they should be able to do, as it is their very mission.  Less than 1% of our population works to “preserve democracy and freedom” for its citizens and easily 89% of said population could give a shit less.  Our suicide rate in this country is now higher than it has been in more than 25 years according to a recent study but the reports don’t even acknowledge that this could be war related.

22 Veterans commit suicide every day. 

Last year, the Veterans Administration revealed a staggering statistic; a Veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes.[i] Sadly, the list of reasons behind that grows exponentially every month and it is a responsibility of us as a country to address this.  Aside from the traumatic physical trauma from amputations, scars, and traumatic brain injuries, a new batch of illnesses and complications are beginning to revel themselves. While some Veterans are being told, “Suck it up, you didn’t see combat,” and “Get over it, you are home now,” a troubling list of obstacles face them upon their return. From the vast and overwhelming back log in claims processing, to the nearly impossible job market and to the revelation that medicines Veterans took can produce PTSD like symptoms,[ii] it can make a Veteran feel as though everything is working against them.

Compounding this real epidemic is a growing misconception, perpetuated by the media, that all Veterans are dangerous psychopaths. Upon the revelation of a crime by a former military member, the media moves to wild speculation about a PTSD diagnosis, without waiting for the details of the case.[iii] When a clarification or retraction is later published, it is not as “national news” but relegated to the back page buried behind the celebrity rehab story du jour.

An entire generation of people called to action for their government now is forced to deal with those actions. They shouldn’t be doing it alone.

You do your goddamn job, diplomats.

We have economic means to apply pressure to countries without risking soldiers.  We have the best intelligence community in the world and a top notch diplomatic corps, let them do their best. Saber rattling and shaking of fists has never helped.  Not once.  Not ever.  Afghanistan has never conquered, not once in the last nine times.  How are we going to conquer them after nearly 16 years?  What give us the right to that?

I need you to care.

When a soldier goes to war, they are broken at the core of their moral fiber. If they were not 100% before that happened, how do you realistically expect that they ever will be?

Look in a mirror.

Could you be?

Privatization is not the answer.

When someone tries to sell you on “privatization” of any industry, it is not out of the goodness of their heart.  It is because they have a way to get rich.  Corporations don’t make decisions without consideration of the bottom line.  It isn’t necessary for you to #NotAllCorporations me either.  I am aware that there are many faithful, generous leaders of companies doing great things.  You are kidding yourself if you don’t think that’s not making them rich as well.

Saving money is the goal? 

Currently there will be a power vacuum in any country we withdraw from after we have invaded.  The Pentagon knew this before troops went in, they know it now.  When you hear stories about how we can’t “just leave,” understand that they are now trying to manipulate feelings of guilt in anyone willing to listen.  Is saving money really the goal?  Start the draw down, bring everyone home within 12 months.  Dedicate that time to training local nationals to do the jobs being done by Americans, soldiers and contractors alike.  Pledge half the current budget to the continued rebuilding of the infrastructure in the country and GET OUT. Boom!  You just saved billions of dollars in a year.

We have to stop going into countries for nefarious purposes and we have to stop killing the people that live there.  You can not fight an idea and the current system is set up to guarantee continued radicalization.  STOP.

Today is my birthday.  My husband can’t remember it so it is written over and over in many places to jog his memory.  Going out to lunch requires him to sleep the remainder of the afternoon because there are so many people that he can’t watch every one.  We have to pass under two bridges on the way home and that was after he counted all the exits in the restaurant twice. This physically and mentally exhausts him. Stop doing this to families and stop letting private companies influence these decisions.  

You want to drain the swamp? 

Start with Afghanistan.

 

 

 

[i] IAVA Policy Report 2013, http://media.iava.org/PolicyAgenda2013.pdf

[ii] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/some-us-troops-haunted-by-anti-malaria-drugs-side-effects/

[iii] http://iava.org/press-room/press-coverage/daily-caller-veteran-advocate-frustrated-over-media-coverage-navy-yard-g-0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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