War on Terror Veterans’ Trauma

The War on Terror has produced a number of adverse effects, both during combat and when veterans return to civilian life: these effects include post-traumatic stress disorder, serious depression, fear of social obtracism of those suffering from military sexual trauma,  high rates of abuse in the family and a frightening suicide rate.

About one-fifth of the veterans of the War on Terror have reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or serious depression; moreover, studies have shown that the military has saved $12.5 billion since 2001 by discharging soldiers diagnosed with personality disorder. [1] We can think back to the time when military doctors and psychiatrists were trying to relate claims of brains damaged in combat to an event that happened prior to the soldier entering one of the military services. There is little question that attempts to find an earlier cause of brain damage were motivated by a desire to exempt the government from paying for expensive long-term medical care.

It doesn’t take a great leap of the imagination to believe that the repeated deployment of troops to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan and long-term separation of husbands and wives, fathers and mothers from their children, puts a great strain on marriages, leading to higher rates of abuse. “Nationally, rates of child abuse have been three times higher in homes where a parent is deployed. Partner abuse rates are up 177 % in Army families since 2003.” [2]

Every day, the Veterans Administration estimates, 18 veterans commit suicide.  Veterans account for 10% of  the country’s adult population and 20% of the suicides. [3]

It isn’t likely that even the most dedicated efforts to solve these severe societal problems through bureaucratic structures and the work of committed professionals will make a major dent in these massive problems. Although Americans don’t hate war: they hate incompetent war, U.S. citizens must demand that their country abandon its proclivity to enter into war on such a frequent basis. Children eleven or under have never known a time when their nation has not been at war — and two wars for much of that time. Not only must we “study war no more” but we need to drastically reduce the size of our armed forces. Having fewer people in the military services will, in and of itself, reduce the level of destructive impacts on U.S. society.

  Footnotes

[1] Eli Jelly-Schariv, “The Crazy,” The Nation, October 20, 2012.

[2} Dan Butts, “War and Militarism Are Killing Us,” “Flash,” Peace Action of Michigan, 2013, Issue 1. (Much of this information comes from The Army Times).

[3] Schariv.

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