Ok so this morning I was eating in the DFAC, trying not to pay too much attention to CNN (they some times piss me right the hell off) and they had this "shocking" report about soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan turning to Alcohol or other substances to cope with events. Why the AMA (American Medical Association) took this long to figure that one out is beyond me. I mean seriously they're just now putting out a study that people have pretty much known since the Civil War.
Amazingly soldiers in "high risk" situations, the ones that go out on patrol more and of course the weekend warriors are *amazingly* more at risk. Honest there are things that Doctors do that simply amaze me. God knows just how much they spent on a study that is pretty much common sense. Next they're going to tell you that repeat deployments will *eventually* lead to domestic violence, and the like.
Lets face it, Our society such as it is, is not prepared to deal with soldier returning from war. In fact it is almost designed to turn a blind eye to the nastier side of life. We spend so many years teaching our kids to focus their aggression in such a way that everyone is alright in the end and we hop them up on crappy happy endings, not preparing them for the possibility of bitter realities. When faced with wholesale chaos, people are unable to comprehend. They are unable to cope.
Truth is War is ugly. The most bitter hateful thing that man has ever mastered. People talk of glory, and all that goes with it, people that have never been nor understand. They will slap a soldier on the back and say "good job son" and just as quickly forget them and move on with their life. In the end it is the fighting man that will tell you the truth, and if you listen you will take away a profound lesson. We all bleed red. No matter who we pray to, we all came into this world the same way, and we are all going out of it the same way.
I think the next shocking report CNN will do, might be something along the lines of "eating McDonalds makes you fat" or "depression hits losers the most". Never one to call journalism a noble profession, I do, still demand that they attempt to show *some* common sense. Instead of just doing a bit piece with Sanjay Gupta, they should have asked soldiers we would have told you they knew this from the beginning. Hell every vet in Vietnam knew it. So why is it such a shock?
I suppose talking about it is a double edged sword. Audie Murphy, the highest decorated soldier of WWII struggled for a long time with PTSD. In the end he locked himself in a motel room Trainspotting style to kick an addiction to prescription sleep meds. After that he came out and talked publicly about PTSD, even before it was really recognized. That took courage. Now in Iraq people are re-discovering all the common knowledge that wasn't talked about in Vietnam. In a sense the Army learned its lessons, but the American public hasn't.