We bring up the casualty count all the time. We acknowledge the soldiers with lost limbs struggling to adapt stateside. But what few mention in the media are the troops that are still active duty, some for their second, third, fourth tour (and now, likely to stay longer to man Bush's escalation). For some, their bodies are intact, but their minds are shattered. The stress of a war zone is unimaginably hard for someone who has not seen combat. My father-in-law flew in both Korea and Vietnam, the biggest and toughest man walking during the day. But at night, he could not sleep without a light on and you dared not touch him as he slept, unless you wanted your arm torn out of its socket. I met him a full twenty years after his last combat mission and he was still that way.
I cannot imagine what these men and women serving in Iraq are going through now.
Ten-year-old Yassir aimed a plastic gun at a passing U.S. armoured patrol in Fallujah, and shouted "Bang! Bang!"
Yassir did not know what was coming. "I yelled for everyone to run, because the Americans were turning back," 12-year-old Ahmed who was with Yassir told IPS.
The soldiers followed Yassir to his house and smashed almost everything in it. "They did this after beating Yassir and his uncle hard, and they spoke the nastiest words," Ahmed said.
It is not just the children, or the people of Fallujah who are frightened.
"Those soldiers are terrified here," Dr. Salim al-Dyni, a psychotherapist visiting Fallujah told IPS. Dr Dyni said he had seen professional reports of psychologically disturbed soldiers "while serving in hot areas, and Fallujah is the hottest and most terrifying for them."
Props to the Minnesota National Guard for creating Beyond The Yellow Ribbon to help returning returning soldiers and airmen reintegrate and adjust. (h/t RM) Aravosis points out that our new VA Senator, James Webb, is backing up his words of support as well. (h/t Rasputin)