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30% of Iraq Vets May Need Psychiatric Help

By Remy Benoit

When we bring a new baby home from the hospital, we put gates across stairs, safety locks on cabinets, outlet covers on the electric sockets, put away things they could hurt themselves with when they begin to toddle about. We turn pot handles in toward the center of the stove. We give 24/7 attention to their safety.

We do not leave them alone in our parked cars; we put them in safety seats while we are driving. In fact, we pass laws about how much they must weigh before they can use a seat belt which has also been legislated.

We sign them up for sports and encourage them to be competitive, often the parents being more vociferously competitive than the children. We teach them to be grade competitive.

We tell them "do not fight;" we suspend them from school when they do. We tell them to "talk it out," while we tell them to stand up to bullies.

We teach them, "Thou shalt not kill," and then encourage them, give them send off parades, to go to war.

Our behavior is irrational as it sends mixed messages often creating confusion, despair when they have to get down to it in a combat zone where the primary objective is to stay alive, keep your buddies alive.

This is not to say that we should not defend ourselves but we have to really look at what we are doing and accept the fact that we have a responsibility to those we send to serve. Very often they need help, serious help when, if, they come home. We accept the fact regarding heart conditions that stress is a killer. We have not yet accepted the fact that being in combat is a major stressor and impacts tremendously on the the mental state of those who have been through it.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder comes from the place that what is being witnessed, what is being gone through, simply is too much to be processed at the time. Our minds literally push it down, way down, and eventually it leaks out bit by bit as the mind, and perhaps heart and soul, tries to deal with it. It is real, and it will not go away on its own. If the psychological strain is accompanied by physical injury, the trauma is magnified.

We need to accept that PTSD is real. We are learning, slowly that it has been around all through history and that the record of its treatment is very shabby. We are learning, slowly, but we need to fund its treatment; we need patience, understanding, and a real commitment to helping those we have sent to serve. We need to keep the unwritten Covenant, we will be there for you.

From SF Gate and Julian Guthrie Iraq war vets fight an enemy at home Experts say up to 30% may need psychiatric care.

For more information on how PTSD works, on how soldiers react to combat situations see:

ON KILLING : The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman.
ACHILLES IN VIETNAM : Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character by Jonathan Shay.

BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY by Ron Kovic.

For Help visit:

VVA Veterans Benefits Guide: PTSD.

National Center for PTSD.

PTSD Alliance.

As Barbara Bush once said, "War in not nice." We truly need to face that.

If as Ms. Rice said yesterday, this is truly the time for diplomacy, perhaps we should consider Kucinich's DEPARTMENT OF PEACE - HR 1673 in 108th CONGRESS.

And an opinion piece from Tom Paine, the Loyal Opposition, The Fog of Phoney War by David Corn.

As always, your comments are welcome. Please remember that PTSD is real, and the Veterans need our help. If you have some insight, some questions,comments, whatever, just click on Feedback.

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This item is part of WelcomeHomeSoldier.com: historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.


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