“Mourning over the death of farmer, musician and three-tour U.S. combat veteran Jacob George continued this week. “Truthdig” reported the 32-year-old’s suicide on Sept. 19 in an article that gave special prominence to the value he ascribed to antiwar activism in his effort to recover from “moral injuries” he said he sustained in Afghanistan. Between the 19th and the publication of this piece, the article was viewed almost 100,000 times.”
War is a two-sided coin: truth and lies. The above moving article traces some of the emotional consequences of war, in this case Afghanistan, on a human being. It is the truthful side, demonstrating not only the physical destruction of war but also its disastrous effects on the hidden inner psychological world of the human brain, perhaps very familiar to anyone who has experienced it.
It is reported that 1,892 US veterans have committed suicide in 2014 alone – probably in both senses of the word.
It is claimed that every day about twenty-two American veterans take their own lives.
However this is sure to be an under-estimate as many states are not included as was this instance:
“People like Levi Derby, who hanged himself in his grandfather’s garage in Illinois on April 5, 2007. He was haunted, says his mother, Judy Casper, by an Afghan child’s death. He had handed the girl a bottle of water, and when she came forward to take it, she stepped on a land mine. When Derby returned home, he locked himself in a motel room for days. Casper saw a vacant stare in her son’s eyes. A while later, Derby was called up for a tour of Iraq. He didn’t want to kill again. He went AWOL and finally agreed to an “other than honourable” discharge.” edition.cnn.com
A recent “News21″ analysis found nearly one in five suicides nationally is a veteran, even though veterans make up about 10% of the U.S. population, and this leaves out many deaths, such as the so-called “suicide by cop” or “intentional accident”.
It is estimated that over 26,000 are “actively suicidal” described as a “suicide epidemic” or a “tidal wave coming”, about thirty per cent of which are younger than fifty years. One deeply disturbing statistic is that for every veteran killed by enemy combatants, 25 veterans kill themselves!
This may be a relatively new phenomenon I would suggest, traceable to post Vietnam engagements, perhaps pointing to the absence of the moral underpinning to those conflicts. For all their savagery and futility, the men engaged in the D-Day Landings and all the other battles, believed what they were doing was necessary and right, far less clear from Vietnam onwards. Nor were the Vietnam veterans treated in the same way on their return. It was an ignoble episode that America would rather forget and the veteran with it leading to even greater disillusionment and resentment by those who took part. Perhaps it is worth contrasting it with the much less significant, nonetheless traumatic skirmish in the Falklands from which the combatants returned as heroes to their domestic audience at least. Nevertheless the similar shocking statistic statistic that more have died from suicide than the conflict itself, so external reaction cannot be the whole explanation.
Maybe we are dealing with a different generation, far less respecting of authority, easily convinced by government propaganda, far more worldly wise regarding how we have been conned, far less certain over what is black and what is white and whether the enemy we are sold truly is as described. Men have to be taught to kill both technically and emotionally but the trainers cannot control the inner turmoil consequent on it.
Jacob George described them as “moral injuries” and it cost him his life. Would that the egotistical, self-serving political class, that so bravely dispatch others to war, and even benefit politically from military adventures, as was seen initially with Bush and Blair to name but two, and which as a Parliament they recently supported, would ponder on the economic, social and psychological havoc they have wrought, before they so blithely voted for more. END