Once again Leslie Hawes’ honesty and artistry with word and color has inspired a comment to her post "Boonie" that has since expanded as it evoked the source of my deep sympathy for the trauma suffered by veterans of combat. The comment was
How dare he remind us of our helplessness in preventing our government from sacrificing generations of the country’s less privileged youth to exploit big business interests abroad by surviving the death bath they were sent to deal out to strangers in a strange land? What gall he has in displaying his unwillingness or disability to contribute to the “American Way of Life” he has learned to see his defending of to be the obviously oblivious source of his traumatized condition. His audacity at holding a tin cup out to collect his unpaid and unpayable due from the ones he was told he was defending causes city councils to propose the banning of his activities to protect the sensibilities of folks who want to forget that time he never can. Our impotent discomfort at his existence is our share of his trauma, and he has enough for everyone.Although my four years in the military fell three years after the Korean War and three years before the Gulf of Tonkin hoax got us into the Viet Nam big time, I shared the lives of war heroes who, upon returning to the United States, discovered they no longer fit into civilian life, or the civil part of military life during peacetime for that matter. All around the base I could see salty uniforms with sleeves showing the brighter colors where combat awarded rank insignias had been stripped from steely eyed veterans who just couldn’t stay sober or out of fights with townies and officers. The seriously traumatized ones I knew who just didn’t resign themselves to life in the bosom of the military, if not dishonorably discharged, rejoined society to land in the constant care of their loving families or not so loving asylums and jails, in the boondocks hoarding armament and hate, in the job of belligerent criminal or cop, or life on the street.
A touchy subject. Thank you for bringing it to the surface, Leslie. Hiding our shame only makes it fester into a new war.
The government and the military refuse to admit responsibility for or even the existence of such a record, preferring instead of mental health care to malign them with dishonor as whiners and malcontents. The latest program to utilize graduates from Shell Shock U is called Blackwater, Bush’s high priced cannon fodder. The field research data gained by sending troops into combat with arms and armor varying from hard-ons behind hate speeches to depleted uranium behind remote underground bunkers by radar is improving the equipment of our burgeoning law enforcement here at home. With such equipment and the addition of a missing ingredient in Iraq: hometown knowledge, they should have no trouble quelling any protest against the occupation from the folks who don’t really need so much security, just like the field studies showed.
Just stretch your mind between Boonie, who doesn’t want any more killing and cannot contribute to the way of life that affords its preemptive genocidal wars, and any one of the anonymous Darth Vaders hiding their tiny penises behind great big guns and Kevlar cod pieces arm in arm by the hundreds wherever Boonie’s younger, less experienced kindred spirits arise against the walls of the trash compactor. Two career paths from the same school of thought.