Thursday, November 12, 2009

Violence is endemic at Fort Hood

This ties in uncomfortably all too well with yesterday's post about Fort Hood. In the show "Tattooed Under Fire" (extended trailer) one of the locals said that Killeen is "like Dodge City when the sun goes down".

New York Times, with video "In War There Are No Unwounded Soldiers". Please read.

Fort Hood is still reeling from last week’s carnage, in which an Army psychiatrist is accused of a massacre that left 13 people dead. But in the town of Killeen and other surrounding communities, the attack, one of the worst mass shootings on a military base in the United States, is also seen by many as another blow in an area that has been beset by crime and violence since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq began. Reports of domestic abuse have grown by 75 percent since 2001. At the same time, violent crime in Killeen has risen 22 percent while declining 7 percent in towns of similar size in other parts of the country.

The stresses are seen in other ways, too.

Since 2003, there have been 76 suicides by personnel assigned to Fort Hood, with 10 this year, according to military officials.

In TUF it was brought up that in fifteen months in Iraq, the 4th ID had 50 KIA and double that in drunk driving fatalities in the few months since they returned.

One day, it is a homecoming, with hundreds of families waving flags and homemade signs along T. J. Mills Boulevard leading into the base’s main gate. The next day, crime reports increase, especially cases of domestic violence. “Unfortunately, you see the trend every time there’s a homecoming, when the divisions come home,” said Olga Pena, the paper’s managing editor.

It's just my opinion, but I think they're getting home from the combat zone too quickly. No time to decompress.

Vietnam returnees came home as individuals on government-leased flights. One day, Vietnam, the next, a west coast Air Force base, the next, home with their heads still in the war zone. We've had forty years to see how well that didn't work.

Now they're coming home as units, which I think is good, but they need to stop somewhere for a couple of weeks, maybe in Germany. They need to get some counseling, some rest, some time to realize they're not in the war zone and some time to adjust. Probably wouldn't hurt 'em to get good and beered up in a reasonably controlled environment a coupla times as well.

Beered up. There's one of the biggest cruxes of the biscuit. The only service-acceptable chemical relaxant and self-medication is alcohol, a demon drug in the right, or wrong, circumstances.

In Iraq, alcohol is forbidden to the troops due to the Islamic nature of the joint. The troops had to brew their own hooch if they wanted any. A bucket with a lid, fruit or starch, yeast and sugar, and bingo, pruno like in prison. I wouldn't doubt they could get booze from KBR bootleggers, but I think there was probably a lot less drinking while they were over there.

In my day, we didn't make much money and most of us didn't have cars. Motorcycles were absolutely forbidden at Camp Lejeune after some yo-yo burned a buncha donuts on the CG's lawn with his Honda 90. Heh. We took the bus to town (Jacksonville NC) and got sloshed on three-deuce beer in a two-square-block area of beer bars, got back on the bus, called the 'vomit comet' for the return trip, went home and went to bed in the barracks, since 90+% of us were single, and most of the few married men left their wives at home, at least in the lower ranks. Other than a fistfight once in a while, no harm done. The Marine Corps turned a blind eye to all this because they knew all too well that young men need to let off steam. Constantly.

Nowadays, servicemen make a lot more money and a lot of the unmarried soldiers live off base, unsupervised. For all intents and purposes, they're civilians after working hours. They all have cars and motorcycles and like young men everywhere, they need to constantly let off steam and they go out in the evening and get in trouble. These aren't just any young men. They're warriors in a warrior culture, even off base. Maybe especially off base where the Army can't see them. Wanta cause trouble? Go into some other unit's home bar and holler an insult. Or just hang around and wait for it. Mostly, it's just relatively harmless young man's mischief and the biggest danger is drunk driving, which seems to be a huge problem at Fort Hood.

There's more criminals, hoodlums, and bums in the service these days too, and their mischief can be anything but harmless.

As to the married soldiers, and there are a hundred, a thousand times more of those than years ago, what they don't need is to be instantly plunked down in the midst of all the crapola that developed at home while they were gone. Instant decompression from one war zone, and right in the middle of another one. Welcome home, honey, and you ain't makin' enough money and you stay gone too long and the fuckin' kid's outta diapers and oh yeah I'm six months pregnant.

Add alcohol to that and you've got real trouble.

Booze is legal and it's everywhere. They even sell hard liquor off-sale at Class Six stores right on the base, for taking home to consume in on-base housing. Swell.

I didn't mean to turn this post into a temperance lecture, but I guess I did. Take all the stresses of instant decompression from a war zone, PTSD diagnosed or not, Army chickenshit, domestic problems, the realization that you've just been unnecessarily screwed, blewed, and tattooed by the military-industrial complex and a neocon weakling for fifteen months, maybe four fifteen monthses, in a place you should never have had to go to, that 99% of the American people have no skin in the game and use you for political purposes, that they're going to throw you away after they're done with you and you should just man up and STFU and be grateful they let you go catch lead for the ruling elite who doesn't want anything to do with you that costs money, and add alcohol. Happy landings.

Welcome home boys and girls.

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