Ain’t Goin’ Back

August 14, 2010

Soldiers are people, too.


(Illustration found here).

War fucks people up in more ways than maybe 200.
Fighting with the US military nowadays is a 24/7/365 ordeal — none of this back in (the) world Vietnam bullshit describing being in country and anywhere else, particularly hometown USA.
In the near-nine years since Sept. 11, 2001 (on-point since the original invasion of Afghanistan), people serving in grunt divisions of the US armed services have been shredded to pieces, especially the poor peoples in the Guard units — a weekend, non-serious-military, regular-guy-on-a-job, then in a few weeks, a frightful, ready-to-puke guy picking up body parts in Fallujah.
Some degree of soldier blowback should be expected from close to a decade of constant, horrifying, mind-bending warfare with the Iraq debacle (let’s not even go there in any detail, it would only make me puke anger onto my laptop, the damn thing is already in bad enough shape) decimating whatever there was of a US military.

Bringing home war-zone memories has become part-and-parcel of being a modern soldier: “…at 12 months following combat, the prevalence of mental health problems among veterans does not abate, and in many cases, increases.”
And killing oneself is a release from these mental health problems.
Last year, according to an in-depth US Army study released in July, 160 active duty soldiers took their lives in the 2009 fiscal year, putting the army suicide rate at a record 20.2 per 100,000, exceeding the national average of 19.2 for the first time.
Which in turn, concluded the study: “Simply stated, we are often more dangerous to ourselves than the enemy.”
And the problem isn’t just repeated deployments to horrible war zones, it’s also the very anticipation of going to battle as “79 percent of the soldiers who committed suicide had had only one deployment, or had not deployed at all.”
And those poor weekend warriors.
From McClatchy: Suicides among Army and Air National Guard and Reserve troops have spiked this year, and the military is at a loss to explain why. Sixty-five members of the Guard and Reserve took their own lives during the first six months of 2010, compared with 42 for the same period in 2009. The grim tally is further evidence that suicides continue to plague the military even though it’s stepped up prevention efforts through counseling and mental health awareness programs.

If soldiers aren’t killing themselves, they’re just not coming back to work.
Buried deep in the recent US Army report on military suicides is a eye-opener about the status of ordinary service people.
Via HuffPost:

Since 2004, the number of soldiers going AWOL, deserting, and “missing movement” — that is failing to deploy when they’re supposed to — has gone up a shocking 234 percent.
The Army includes this fact on page 92 of the 350 page document, in a section on misdemeanor crimes — alongside motor vehicle violations, substance abuse, and other crimes — which collectively have been rising at the rate of more than 5,000 a year for the last five years.
“Good order and discipline are on the decline,” the report says.

The big, real-vital difference, of course, between Vietnam and the US continual wars nowadays is the absence of any kind of military draft — which in itself would not have allowed George Jr. and The Dick to turn whole countries to slaughter houses, not for long anyway, as there would have been a major uproar.
The US did have 500,000 troops in Vietnam, though, but still couldn’t get the war together, and that’s horribly creepy.
Riots and all kinds of animated public displays, Walter Cronkite, a ton of stuff quickly made the Vietnam war a no-win situation and every asshole knew it.

The US is into war, apparently just for the damn sake of war.
A recent instance: The US is currently putting together a $60 billion military-hardware deal with Saudi Arabia, a deal festered first by George Jr. and then aided and abetted by Obama, a package which includes F-15 fighter aircraft and Black Hawk helicopters.
Israel should have been worried, but they’re getting a deal, too — the Saudi F-15s won’t carry long-range offensive gear.
What does it matter, though, because the US is dealing with both sides.
The chief bit from the WSJ’s piece on the arms deal:

The Saudi deal could increase pressure on Israel to quickly commit to buying the F-35, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, which Lockheed Martin Corp. could start delivering as early as 2015, around the same time the Saudis would begin to get new F-15s.

How can US GIs be absent without leave in wars conducted with an absence of humanity and sense.

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