Sunday, January 13, 2008

Terror follows veterans home

By Libby

The usual suspects are treating it as some kind of attack against our troops, but the NYT's piece on returning war veterans who kill at home is actually a sympathetic look at the problem of vets inflicted with severe PTSD. Which is not to say the story isn't shocking.
The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment — along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems — appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction.

Three-quarters of these veterans were still in the military at the time of the killing. More than half the killings involved guns, and the rest were stabbings, beatings, strangulations and bathtub drownings. Twenty-five offenders faced murder, manslaughter or homicide charges for fatal car crashes resulting from drunken, reckless or suicidal driving.

About a third of the victims were spouses, girlfriends, children or other relatives, among them 2-year-old Krisiauna Calaira Lewis, whose 20-year-old father slammed her against a wall when he was recuperating in Texas from a bombing near Falluja that blew off his foot and shook up his brain.

A quarter of the victims were fellow service members, including Specialist Richard Davis of the Army, who was stabbed repeatedly and then set ablaze, his body hidden in the woods by fellow soldiers a day after they all returned from Iraq.
That's just the opening of a long article but the takeaway point is that we're sending these kids into situations more horrible than a young mind can cope with and then abandoning them when they come home. And yes, when I say kids, I mean kids. Some of them aren't even old enough to legally purchase alcohol. For them, the terrorists have already followed them home and live in their heads as phantoms who haunt their every moment, awake and asleep. There is no escape.

A word to the critics on this one. The appropriate response is anger at the government for its criminal negligence in failing to give them the help they need to readjust to civilian life, not to attack the NYT for pointing out that they need the assistance.

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