My recruiter forged his smile while he fed me everything I wanted to know about the U.S. Army: "Free college! Steady paycheck! Getting your head sawed off on YouTube!" I guess by "career" he meant only if you don't die fighting the civilian being paid to endlessly throw rocks and grenades at your convoy. With this career, you'll be left feeling skull-fucked on a daily basis by flashbacks of seeing that brown civilian kid take a .50 caliber round to the face. That subsequent nagging urge in your guts to go on a homicidal rampage. One recruiter called me and based his entire campaign to enroll me based on the fact that I'd get into Disneyland for free. How did he know that I always wanted to hug Mickey Mouse with blood all over my hands? Yes, PTSD is very real, and anyone related to a service member will tell you that their soldier was not the same after coming home, but they won't tell you that he wakes up at night running around looking for his M16 that isn't there, while tactically clearing the living room of insurgents.
When you can get so angry at someone you try to twist their head off their shoulders. When you get so angry with yourself, you want to drive your car into a bridge abutment. When you wake up screaming because one of your mind's safety valves pops and it shows you something you thought buried long ago. When you shut the lights and curtains, making your family take cover because you're convinced someone is outside, trying to infiltrate the perimeter (makes for a wonderful family Thanksgiving, believe me). And the bitch of it is, you don't know what will set it off. A smell, a sound, a poem (once a poem a friend wrote himself and read to me flipped the switch), anything in the course of your day can send you there quicker than shit. Picture a million or so people walking around with that hair-trigger, able to be pulled by just about anything.
If you're wondering what it's like to be a spouse of somebody with PTSD, send an email to Mrs. F and she'll explain it to you. She's a good woman.
We've destroyed a generation of our young people, the extent of which we won't know for a decade or two once we leave. Our "jails for hire" will begin to fill up with people who just can't tell what's real or what's not anymore, or live with the things they had to do in order to stay alive, or because some politician said it was the right thing. We'll have people who self-medicate (you're looking at one) who will fall afoul of the law for whatever reason. The soldiers who are "fightin' for our freedoms" today will be the "burdens on society" tomorrow.
The Republicans say we're handing down a big deficit to our children. I'll posit we're leaving a far worse legacy. We're leaving them with destroyed minds and bodies at the behest of war criminals. In an age of spending cuts, I wonder what will become of them.