Survived the war, but was
having trouble surviving
the peace, couldn't sleep
more than two hours
was scared to be
without a gun.
guilt and remorse
wanted to stay drunk
all the time.
1966 and the V.A. said
Vietnam wasn't a war.
They couldn't help, but
did give me a copy of
the yellow pages.
Picked a shrink off
the list. 50 bucks an
hour, I was making 125
a week. Spent six
rapport, heard about his
his fights with his mother
and anything else he wanted
to talk about.
At this rate, we would have
got to me in 1999.
Gave up on that shrink
couldn't afford him and he
wasn't doing me any good.
Six weeks later my shrink
killed himself. Great.
Not only guilt about the
war but new guilt about
my dead shrink.
If only I had a better job,
I could have kept on
I thought we were making
real progress, maybe in another
six sessions, I could have
I realized then that surviving
the peace was up to me.
Scuttlebutt is, Bush and Co. are gonna start pulling troops out of Iraq quick-like to minimize his political exposure come the election.
I'm confident that the warbloggers, whose support for the troops has been unwavering, will dedicate their substantial resources to assisting people -- what's the euphemism? -- ah yes, successfully reintegrating into civilian society.
Because you know what I think you're gonna get when Johnny Comes Marching Home?
Murder -- probably also involving spouses and children.
Maybe STDs and STIs flying around, depending.
And the ever-popular inexplicable debilitating diseases that no one has an explanation for, and that the governement will fight tooth and nail to avoid attributing to service so as to avoid paying benefits.
Me, I definitely ain't the one to try helping other people with this shit. Because if one of them looks me in the eye and asks if it ever gets any easier, I'm going to tell them the truth.
No. It never does.
You think it's as simple as turning in the rifle, pulling a Clark Kent in a phone booth and dropping the uniform, and everything goes back to the way it was?
News flash, motherfucker.
It never goes back to the way it was.
Update, because reading this shit is just making me feel so much better:
According to 2002 data from the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, 10.8 percent of all male veterans and 13.3 percent of female veterans between the ages of 20 and 24 were unemployed. The unemployment rate is even higher for minority veterans – 17 percent for black male veterans and 23.9 percent for black female veterans between 20-24 years of age. For Hispanic male and female veterans in that age-bracket, the rate was 8.7 percent and 21.6 percent respectively. Nearly 20 percent of Gulf War veterans are unemployed, according to the 2000 Census.
About one-third of the adult male homeless population in America is composed of veterans. On any given day, as many as 250,000 veterans (male and female) are in homeless shelters or living on the streets. Currently, the number of male and female homeless Vietnam War era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died in that war. Even a small number of Desert Storm veterans are also appearing in the homeless population.
From Majette Co-sponsors Bill to Combat Veteran Unemployment. I'm not going to see what the status of this bill is. Passed, defeated, in committee, what the fuck difference does it make?
And also, DoD Leaders Meet to Discuss Combating Stress:
"Stress is something that has plagued our veterans in the 10 years since the Gulf War," [Bernard Rostker, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness] said, speaking from his experiences as special assistant to the deputy secretary of defense for Gulf War illnesses, a post he's held since 1996. The roughly 250 attendees included chaplains, healthcare workers, mental health professionals, academicians, line officers and a handful of allied officers.
Officials are moving from the traditional concept of combat stress to a more inclusive concept: that operational stress affects service members in most military actions, even those not involving combat.
[. . .] While the issue of stress has been receiving more attention, however, progress in dealing with it has been slow for many reasons.
"One of the difficulties in dealing with Gulf War veterans is they don't want to hear about stress. They think we're telling them their ailments are not real," Rostker said. "They think we're belittling them when we talk about stress."
He said officials studying the issue can't directly link stress to Gulf War veterans' myriad ailments, though at the same time "academic literature tells us that stress can have a contributing effect, if not a prime effect, even years after they have left the combat theater."
There is also evidence that unchecked stress plays a major role in changing behavior, such as increasing substance abuse, including alcoholism, and in the most extreme cases, suicide, he said.
I'm confident this discussion yielded a detailed report, with strong, clear suggestions for how to avoid this sort of thing in future.
Someone might even have read it.
Not someone in a decision-making capacity, but someone.
From United Press International, Lariam Investigation:
Since March 2002, UPI reporters Mark Benjamin and Dan Olmsted have been investigating severe mental problems associated with Lariam, a drug that has been prescribed to 5 million Americans and 25 million people worldwide.
The first article appeared on May 21, 2002 and reported that mounting evidence suggests Lariam has led to suicides. UPI obtained thousands of pages of internal drug company documents that showed it tracking increasing reports of suicide over a decade, as well as thousands of reports of severe psychiatric and neurological problems.
Subsequently, UPI has published the series of stories below, documenting cases of severe problems among scores of Peace Corps volunteers that have been denied and ignored, and focusing national attention on a string of murders and suicides at Fort Bragg involving soldiers who have taken Lariam.
Emphasis added. That one dropped off the media radar a while ago, of course.
I think I should stop now.
No, wait. One more. From The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer on October 16th, Vigil memorializes victims:
The guest speaker for the vigil was Col. Al Aycock, Fort Bragg garrison commander.
''Our goal is to make sure no one has to go through domestic violence," Aycock said. ''Fort Bragg is doing a great deal, and we'll continue the great programs.
''We need more voices to break the walls of silence and end domestic violence now."
Aycock said after the vigil that Fort Bragg has started a series of leadership seminars this year to deal with domestic violence issues.
''We have brought in someone from the outside to come and make sure we are doing everything OK,'' he said.
''We are working to make it known that domestic violence is not acceptable and to make treatment more acceptable."
In the summer of 2002, Fort Bragg couples were victims of a series of murders and murder-suicides. Investigators said four Fort Bragg soldiers killed their wives. Two of those soldiers committed suicide. In a fifth case a wife killed her husband, an Army major, investigators said.
Fort Bragg made policy changes and held a two-day seminar on domestic violence in October 2003.
A two-day seminar.
Well. Problem solved. Guess I should cross that one off the list.