"Patriotism is a kind of religion; it is the egg from which wars are hatched." ~ Guy de Maupassant
Some Advice to Returning 2003 Iraq War Veterans
DEALING WITH THE LIESYou are personally going to be dealing with the consequences of lies told directly to you by the Military to justify what you were ordered to do and lies told about the Iraq War by the United States Government. It is important for you to understand this, because any "help" offered to you as a Veteran will be designed to maintain these lies and/or delay disclosure of the truth until after you are dead. If you want help, you are going to have to take responsibility yourself for identifying and finding the physical, mental and spiritual resource you will need to try and recover. Take some time by yourself to reflect on how you have been changed and what your particular damages are. You will need help in all three areas because killing another human being in peace or war is a physical, mental and spiritual act that has physical, mental and spiritual consequences.At best, the Military Hospital or Veterans Administration Hospital will provide you with access to resources with the POTENTIAL to help you with the physical and mental problems. Whether you actually get help, will depend heavily on whom your case is assigned to. It will also depend on priority driven resource allocation. The Veterans Hospital I go to for medical problems is responsible for the care of 400,000 veterans. Upon your return, you will be added to the waiting list for your area. I have waited on lists for diagnostic medical tests over a year long. Expedited diagnostic testing lists can be one to three months long. Some Veterans die waiting for diagnostic medical testing.As for spiritual help, you will be completely on your own. To frame what the spiritual consequences are, combat Veterans who have had near death experiences recount reliving their killing and feeling everything the person they killed felt. Short of having a near death experience, you will feel a discomfort inside you that nothing can alleviate. When you leave the doctor's office and the psychiatrists office with the feeling that nothing they have done has helped you, the discomfort is probably the spiritual consequence these people do not even admit exists, let alone have any tools to deal with. It most definitely is not covered in Basic Training. The best recommendation I can probably give on this is to pray for guidance to the knowledge and resources you need for your particular situation. You will be dealing with the internal connection you have with God, so that is probably the best place to ask for guidance. If you want to know what the alternative is, go to a VA Emergency Room and listen to the drug overdose and failed suicide caseswho come in weekend nights.IF RAPED, BLAME THE RAPISTBe careful about getting into the unhealthy state of developing an emotional attachment to the War to justify what you did after beingordered into combat. Self-deception can only be sustained at great price. In some corner of your mind you know you are lying to yourself. Trying to hold on to a lie in that way is the mental and spiritual equivalent of self-inflicted brain cancer. Competent Command and Generalship will not squander you as a resource and will not place you in situations that have no outcomes that advance the campaign toward strategic and tactical goals that are ONLY in the national interest.All the United States military failures from the Vietnam War to the blunders in the second Iraq war have been failures of Command and Generalship. Some of the adverse consequences are the result of pure corruption at the top. You are not to blame for the consequences of incompetent and corrupt Generalship, as long as you did not add your own fear, malice and hatred on top of it in the acts committed following orders. It is unwise to embrace and defend someone else's evil as your own for false emotional security. In trying to deal with the pain of inevitable nightmares, sort out what evils, if any, are yours and what evils belong to the Chain of Command. It can be liberating.Some understanding of the consequences of command failure to use the correct strategy and tactics necessary to achieve victory can be gleaned from the books of Col. Harry G. Summers, Ret., ON STRATEGY (Vietnam War) and ON STRATEGY II: A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF THE GULF WAR (Gulf War I). As demonstrated irrefutably in Vietnam, superiority on the battlefield does not ensure victory in war. It is possible to win all the individual battles with superior fire power and technology and in the end achievenothing, to the lifelong detriment of every surviving soldier who participated.Whether or not you ever determine in your own mind if the orders you were given constitute a rape of your remaining life, do not hate those who perceive that your life was raped and publicly protest it through opposition to the War or its aftermath. Those who have their facts together may be right.There is one subgroup to ignore. For some reason, in every human endeavor jackasses and bottom-feeders emerge sooner or later. Some antiwar and so-called peace activists will intentionally rub salt in the wounds your life has sustained to feed their own sick emotional perversions at every individual opportunity. After the Vietnam War, they were the ones who spat on individual soldiers and called them 'baby killers.' Those who do not treat you with the respect a normal human being would extend to anyone who has suffered a great trauma at the hands of unscrupulous people (in this case Command and Elected Officials in Washington) deserve whatever contempt they earn. Opposing war, in general or specific, is one thing, using opposition to war as an excuse to humiliate, insult or threaten an individual soldier, in or out of uniform, is something else.' Copyright by James Roger Brown, April 21, 2003. All rights reserved.