I won’t name anyone nor quote anyone exactly because I doubt that I would ever be given permission to do so. I know that when I write a PTSD article, the little notifications I send out goes to maybe 4000 people and they may or may not send them on to a bunch more. Maybe 20 or so ever come around and read the articles, though.
Now, I understand that folks are busy and that they have lives to lead and food to cook and jobs to do and all. What I don’t understand is the reactions I’ve received from a few of the people I have known for many years and who have seen me fall into that black, stinking PTSD ditch again and again. When I ask what they thought of whatever effort I just finished I have actually been told that they never bothered to even click on the link because PTSD doesn’t mean anything to them or their families. One told me her two boys were “too smart” to ever join the military (even though one of them happily joined a local street gang and spent a few weeks in jail for strong arm robbery). Another told me that their kids were too old to join and, even though I know one of their best friends served in the Marines, came home and took a massive overdose of the sleeping pills the VA tries to numb us with, she explained that he had “family problems” and that was probably why he did what he did.
Since I can’t really talk to that kind of wall without anger and disgust coming through in every word, I’ll try to explain what I would say to them if I was rational enough to carry on conversations about things that I find of such stunning importance.
PTSD is known by its symptoms. I’ve discussed those symptoms in an earlier article (which I’ll bring over to this site soon). Each symptom, in and of itself, is just a bad feeling that time, love and patience might help the person get past. It is when the symptoms are layered one on top of the other on top of the other that it becomes apparent that this person is suffering from PTSD and only the most careful professional help and loving, acceptance at home will bring them through. It’s like an old, rotting onion in that every layer must be peeled away to see the damage that has been done to the layer below.
Our nation is also like that same, rotting onion. At one time it was healthy and would have provided strength and nutrition to whomever picked it and put it in a salad or on a sandwich (yeah, my analogies suck). America isn’t healthy anymore, though. We’re beginning to rot away, too. PTSD is just one of the layers of that rot but, by god, it is a layer that is infecting many other layers above and below it with the rot and disease PTSD brings.
We have men and women suffering from PTSD for some very simple reasons; they have been sent to wars that never needed to be fought, they have been sent back to that hell over and over because the wealthy and the politicians are afraid to make any loud efforts to replace them through public recruitment or, god forbid, a draft that might snag a few of the sons and daughters of the privileged, they have been refused the help and support they deserve when they finally find they can do no more and, now, the military is even giving them bad discharges in order to keep them out of the VA system and out of the news. (By the way, even vets with less than honorable discharges are still, by law, required to be treated by the VA for PTSD.)
Why doesn’t the government want even more men and women being treated for PTSD to the point that they will try to discharge them and then lie to them about their benefits? It is because the more men and women that seek help, the more strain is put on the already overwhelmed VA system and the more money and resources the VA needs to just keep up let alone provide all the real benefits that these veterans deserve and earned. Why is the budget for the VA not keeping pace with the skyrocketing needs of our veterans? Because ever since 2001 when Cheney became President (with the moron as his little sock puppet) the wealthiest Americans have enjoys tax cut after tax cut all the while that our military has been sent first to a nation whose only sin was sitting on top of the sand under which the oil that Cheney and his ilk coveted and then, just when the supposed “mastermind” of the attacks on the WTC was cornered in the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, the Seal Team was pulled in order to fight in Iraq and so we’ve supposedly fought the last 9 years looking for him but never really making much of an effort. So we spent (and literally LOST) trillions of dollars killing Iraqis and Afghans for no reason that has ever made any sense and then tried desperately to ignore and push aside those brave men and women when they returned because we “c0uldn’t afford” to spend the money to help them and their injuries and their invisible PTSD.
So let’s peel that onion back one more layer. We keep sending these men and women back to wars that no one wants to volunteer to fight and to replace the poor souls on their third or fourth or more rotation. Why doesn’t anyone want to fight in these wars? Isn’t military duty supposed to be an honor for Americans? Isn’t fighting for the ideals of freedom and democracy supposedly the bulwark of our nation?
Well, the original lies that Cheney and his gang of thugs told was that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction”, a lie that the UN team of inspectors refuted again and again until they were removed at the order of our government so that the war could begin. What was the first thing that our military was told to secure once the invasion began? The oil fields and facilities. Did we ever find any “weapons of mass destruction”? Nope, not even one. But we did control the entire supply of oil from that country and allowed them the tiniest percentage of the profits we could while employing Americans to run the facilities and murderous American mercenaries to protect them and all of that costs even more money since the US government didn’t get the profits from the oil we stole, the oil companies did. Now, of course, Cheney is allowed to go everywhere on TV and deny that they ever made the WMD claim in the first place and that the war was about “regime change” and bringing “democracy” to Iraq and not one American reporter ever pulls up the hundreds of videos available everywhere on the web showing him saying exactly that.
Now that we’ve wasted trillions in tax cuts for the wealthiest in America and Corporate America what do we do when it becomes obvious that we can’t keep doing the same stupid thing over and over? We peel another layer or onion back and extend the Bush tax cuts another two years, proclaim that all this money we’re “wasting” on social programs has to be cut and so we turn more and more vets away to become homeless, helpless, depressed with PTSD and, eventually, to just commit suicide and remove them from the equation entirely.
But, wait! We invaded Afghanistan, another nation that never threatened us, because we claimed that the evil “Doctor Evil”, er, I mean, Osama bin Laden, was still hiding in the mountains, somehow evading tens of thousands of American troops and satellites and drones and somehow receiving dialysis for his failing kidneys in the caves and huts of that nation. Even though he has been proclaimed dead numerous times by reliable sources, we finally proclaim that we found him hiding in the open in our “ally’s” cities, we quickly send in seals who, even though they admit he was unarmed, shot him repeatedly and then, before any sort of autopsy or real ID could be done, the body was whisked off to sea to be tossed overboard as some sort of recognition of Islamic law.
So, obviously we can now just stop the damn fighting and bring our men and women home again, right? Well, not exactly. See, Afghanistan still has vast mineral resources we haven’t raped yet and the government we installed that was the front for all of our talk about “democracy” is as strong as string in a tornado and is stealing our money by the billions. But that’s how American style democracy works, isn’t it?
If we can’t keep spending trillions in Iraq and Afghanistan (at least openly) then our war machine must find new enemies. The latest is Muammar Gaddafi and Libya where we’re supporting a rebellion by the citizens while standing in the sidelines while Saudi Arabia sends troops into Bahrain to murder the citizens staging a rebellion by simple demonstrations in the streets.
So, the layers keep falling away. We can’t help our veterans because we gave the wealthiest Americans and Corporate America massive tax cuts and started two huge and completely unnecessary wars and now there is no money left to help our vets because America has every intention of continuing both wars (one openly in Afghanistan and one quietly in Iraq) while we start a few new ones so that the wealthy stay wealthy, the war machines well funded and our men and women with injuries to the bodies and minds with PTSD are forgotten and pushed aside because PTSD simply doesn’t mean anything to the vast majority of Americans. How sad is that level of willful ignorance?