Thursday, August 18, 2011

If you read anything today ...

Read this. A post by a guest blogger at the Rude One's page who's been there. As one who's been there myself, I can relate to this:


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.


Spud said...

If only they would legalize pot so that my self medication would be cheaper.....
They can take all those other meds,and stuff em where the sun don't shine.

Gordon said...

That was an excellent article & post.

...but we, as a country, carry a concealed weapon called stupidity.

It's becoming less and less concealed every day, seems like.

BadTux said...

I'm with Gordon. Most of my blog posts recently (as well as most of Paul Krugman's output recently) could be just as easily replaced with an animated GIF of me banging head against wall while muttering "Why am I surrounded by so many stupid people?!".

I was never in the military myself but am from a military family (thus why I talk about the evils of my mother's socialized healthcare that lets her see any doctor she wants to see, as long as they accept TRICARE). None of whom saw combat, thankfully, my stepdad is probably the closest to get to a combat zone but he was a supply NCO and never had people actually shooting at him and never shot anybody in anger, he put in his 20 years making sure the pointy stick guys got their bullets and beans and got out. But even second-hand knowledge says that what we've done to a million young people is going to haunt this nation for a long, long time... and nevermind the millions of darkies we killed overseas as part of this clusterfuck (because Americans don't, in general, consider overseas darkies to *really* be people, at best they consider overseas darkies to be pets to be coddled and trained and guided).

- Badtux the Has-a-headache Penguin

Kyddryn said...

I've been reading you for a little while now - I dig your blog, for what that's worth - but never felt much like commenting until now.

I used to get wee-hours phone calls from a friend, a Vietnam Veteran who was about twice my age at the time. I was nineteen or so, and the war (it was TOO a war, damnit) had long been over and swept under the rug, but he was still there. All I knew about it, really, was what the history books glossed over, and revisionist history pissed me off. So this friend, he would call me, and he was always drunk, high, or both, and he was always out of his mind, lost, and trying to find his way back. I was the only person who would take his calls. All the VA wanted to do was medicate him into oblivion.

The things he relived on a regular basis would curl your hair. I couldn't make it all better, which hurt, but I could at least listen, be a witness for him, and help him remember where he was NOW, so I did. Every night for years.

Eventually he quit drinking, although he has never given up his legally questionable herbal remedy (which shouldn't be legally questionable, don't get me started) and managed to stitch himself back together.

What the hell is wrong with us as a nation that we do this to people and then turn our backs on the consequences? How do we set out to quash a person's humanity, then expect them to be human (as we define it) when they get back home?

What will become of them? They'll be searching for someone to answer the phone at three in the morning, hoping that they can find their way back to themselves before it's too late and the people around them will reap what our whole nation has sewn.

Shade and Sweetwater,

Fixer said...

Thanks for the kind words about the blog, Kyddryn. The best thing for someone with PTSD is having someone who'll listen to you. I'm a lucky guy - since I met the Mrs., the episodes have gone from weekly to once every few years - but many aren't so fortunate. Like Gordon says, "Can't carry no rifle, don't get no food". It's a disgrace what we've done to our veterans since WW2.

Spud - If only they would legalize pot so that my self medication would be cheaper.....
They can take all those other meds,and stuff em where the sun don't shine.
- Absolutely right, brother.

jeg43 said...


Anonymous said...

1. Get the military quacks out of the system entirely. They only work to keep "boots on the ground."

2. Get the old PTSD victims to talk to the guys and gals in the military. Give them the power and authority to say, "he/she is out of here now." Not whenever a quack can run some phony diagnostics, but now.

We, PTSD victims, can recognize each other at 20 feet. Giving the lost a mission to sort out and get the youngsters help would help their self esteem immensely.

3. PTSD victims cannot be cured, but they can be helped by teaching coping mechanisms. Teaching their families how to recognize when they are losing it and when to get help would aid them immensely.

That poor Navy Seal that committed suicide on receiving his orders for his NINTH deployment to the middle east has had me eating downers like candy since I read it.

Bustednuckles said...

You just brought a tear to my eye.