Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Training the Insane

The psychological effects of war have been known for as long as war has existed in the civilized world.  Soldiers have come home with post traumatic stress disorder, shell shock, battle fatigue, or whatever the current name was at the time, since at least the Battle of Marathon in the 4th century before the current era when post-war psychosomatic blindness was reported in an Athenian soldier.

We've known for so long, but we still fail to recognize that we're not only putting our soldiers at risk of physical harm, but also mental harm.

Beyond that, many of our soldiers are young and from impoverished backgrounds.  The most rigid training and probably the most responsible family many of them have is in the form of the armed forces.  They love and respect their military family--as they should.  Their buddies would DIE for them.

Many of these soldiers lack discipline and/or stability in their young lives before joining the military, so their first real experience is in the participation of the destruction of human life.  Don't get me wrong, they also learn valuable lessons and skills, as well as form lifelong friends.  But if your first job out of high school is to kill others, you might expect a certain distortion of reality.

Still, many of the people that have spent the last more than 10 years in the Middle East, on and off, didn't necessarily sign up for that.  Some of them are members of the National Guard, state organized militias that were meant to serve only a RESERVE for the army.

Is it no surprise then that, with our men and women in uniform being sent away to participate in the trauma of war year after year after year, at some point, they'll begin having to deal with questionable mental health WHILE on the battlefield.

In recent days, there have been reports of even MORE atrocious behavior by our men and women in uniform.  Soldiers posing with bodies and parts of bodies of people they most likely were involved in killing.  Dead people, who these soldiers (often kids, really) must have relegated to some level of sub-human status in order to treat their bodies so callously.

Normal humans don't do that.

So then, we, as Americans, must apologize to the rest of the world that our military is filled with monsters of our own making.  Posing with bodies, pissing on corpses, burning holy books, massacring civilians...

The right answer to this situation isn't to apologize (though, we must) nor is it to punish the offenders (though, we also must), but to use our armed forces more wisely.  Our warmongering has not only nearly bankrupt us financially, but also bankrupt the sanity and morality of our service men and women.

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