Thursday, January 31, 2008

In Honor of our Uniformed Dead, Dismembered, Disillusioned

"Soldier Suicides at Record Level," reports the Washington Post.

Given the anguish expressed by the letter in the previous post, one can imagine some reasons why.

I agree with Nolocontendre's take on it.

1 comment:

Cleitus the Black said...

Anyone who is interested in the phenomenon of stress disorders, violent and suicidal behavior, and the link to combat trauma would do well to read the book "Achilles in Vietnam", by Jonathan Shay.

It makes an extraordinary and disturbing comparison of the effects of combat trauma in Vietnam vets with the tragic breakdown of the character of Achilles during the Trojan War, who went berserk after hearing of the death of his best friend, Patroclus, and proceeded through a self-destructive spiral that included attempted suicide, cold-blooded murder of prisoners, the mutilation of enemy dead, and the deathwish that eventually brought his untimely end.

The book shows how the pace of modern warfare, the dehumanization of the "enemy", and the lack of mechanisms to allow soldiers to properly mourn a fallen comrade has raised the incidence of the tragic "undoing of human character."

Taking the information from that book and projecting on what we know about the troop rotation schedules and the type of deaths that soldiers and Marines see their friends suffer, it's not difficult to predict that we are headed inexorably toward another generation of shattered minds; men, and increasingly women who instinctively drop at loud noises; who sleep armed, who are 5 times as likely as the general public to engage in violence one or more times per month...

And of course, we (and our opponents) are creating as many or more damaged Iraqis and Afghans in much the same manner.

Food for thought, and certainly a book well worth reading...

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