War is Hell.
As the world’s policeman (or at least protector of natural resources we want from other countries) we are ready, willing and able to make war whenever we want. Ready to provide “freedom” at the drop of a hat and a ring of the cash register. War is good business, Dick Cheney can certainly attest to that fact. (See: Halliburton Company, Dick Cheney)
War is good. War is profitable. We are protecting freedom and democracy everywhere.
At least this is what we are told to justify the release of military forces all over the globe. This is how we rationalize the creation of living weapons whose job it is to pacify, kill or destroy whatever opposing force they are directed at.
With no thought to the minds, bodies or well-being of the soldiers who live and die in those conflicts. Strange, the people most in favor of as much war as the budget will allow are often the same men and women who avoided military conflicts when they required more grist for the military mill.
But worst than that, we pay almost no attention to the mental health and well-being of those who SURVIVE as a shell of their former selves. Warfare on the scale that Humanity does it today corrupts every part of the psyche of the men and women who engage in it.
War brutalizes even the survivors making them barely suitable to exist in the society they have fought for. Without help, training, support services, weaponizing human beings and then releasing them back into society is irresponsible, dangerous and in most cases, the leading cause of suicide among these veterans.
Are we as a nation going to continue making men and women into military weapons of war, and don’t be confused, it is the people that are the weapons before the tools they utilize, or will we realize the cost of war in terms of damage to our economies, damage to our social status as citizens of the world community and most importantly damage to our veterans returning from these wars is simply too damn high?
Or will we treat veterans like we do any other natural resource? We use up our young, best and brightest minds leaving them as wreckage on the pyre of our nation’s economic conquest and destruction of the EARTH and life as we know it.
I know which way things are leaning at the moment and it’s not a good sign.
Soldiers need treatment from the constant battles, the extreme stress, the questionable orders, the impossible tightrope between morality and survival. These are stresses beyond what most people will ever face. Should you run that light or pay your taxes, or pick your kid up from school even under the most adverse of conditions will never equal the stress of one terrifying firefight after your vehicle is flipped over by an IED.
If we really want to thank a veteran, how about making it possible for him to have the mental health he needs to reducing the scars that turned him into a weapon of war. Or the scars he acquires should he survive whatever war front we have placed him in. These walking wounded are taking their lives because they cannot cope with what they have seen or what they feel they have become: less human, less the men and women we loved when we sent them to war. We need to start caring for them. Giving them back their hope since we can’t give them back their humanity intact.
Or better yet, how about we just stop making veterans…
Thaddeus Howze is a veteran of the United States Navy. He can be reached on Twitter at @ebonstorm.