13 June, 2008

Good Men

Mostly just other peoples' writing, but I thought it should be pulled together all in one place...

I've written before about how getting to know both current soldiers and Vietnam veterans has helped me better understand how awful what America did to returning Vietnam veterans was, that how they were treated and how their war was "concluded" had powerful effects on how they ultimately responded to their battlefield experiences.

BillT (helicopter pilot in Vietnam) writes about similarities between Iraqi soldiers and America's Vietnam veterans, and I guarantee it's not what you think. Fellow Vietnam veteran "Jimmy J" (flew off carriers and had friends in the Hanoi Hilton) has this to say in response to a link to BillT:

This war and its detractors have certainly ripped the scabs off the psychic wounds I had been carrying since Vietnam.

After a tour at Yankee Station [deployed], I had the misfortune to spend two years recruiting Navy pilots on the campuses of northern California. We were picketed, insulted, spat upon, had our literature burned, our vehicles defaced, and, on two occasions, were detained against our will. We could not, of course, respond in kind. Wouldn’t be seemly to flatten some callow youth’s nose or shatter a few teeth. The urge to fight back was always there, but always kept in check. The result was a great deal of repressed rage carried around for a number of years before I learned how to deal with it.

After 9/11 I saw the beginnings of another anti-war/anti-American movement. It has grown larger, more bellicose, more hate-filled, and more unreasoning with each passing year.

I spend a lot of time venting and dealing with anger these days. The understanding and acceptance the Iraqis and Bill T. feel certainly resonates deeply with me.

I’m sure there are many Nam vets who are dealing with the same feelings...

Just last week I talked to a friend of mine whose husband was severely wounded several years ago. We talked about his journey with anger over being wounded and some of the symptoms of TBI and PTSD he had shown at times. She said that he was doing very well, and never displayed anger toward her and other family members. Instead, what could set him off in a split second was anti-military things or inaccurate/spun news coverage of Iraq--things any reasonable person could be angry about, but which "flipped the switch" in him.

And Greyhawk, veteran of our current wars, adds this:

"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him."
- G.K. Chesterton

Iraq as you'll only see it in milblogs.

Just thought I'd once again point out that some of the wounding done to America's veterans these days happens off the battlefield... And it's 100% preventable.