I had the opportunity this morning to talk to a wife of one of our brave soldiers fighting in Iraq. She was upset because she had to talk to another one of his friends who were worried because they hadn't heard from him in a year. She said that he had dropped out of contact with everyone but her and his parents.
She further told me that her husband, who wanted to work in law enforcement or with the border patrol, no longer even wants to do this, because he is afraid of having to shoot another person. She also told me about her father, who was a veteran from Vietnam, who spent every Independence Day in a closet crying, scared from the noise of the fireworks. She also shared a story of another friend, home from his fourth tour of duty, saw a paper bag in the road while driving. He started screaming, "IED" and did a U-turn over the island in his Olds, and went tearing down the street for about a mile before his wife could get him to calm down.
She told me that her husband has told her that things are much, much worse than the media would let us know. And the right wing pundits' presentation would be laughable if it wasn't such a sick distortion of reality.
These are only anecdotal stories, but the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) that our soldiers are experiencing is very common, and needs to be addressed with all sources available. And it is not surprising that our soldiers are suffering from PTSD. The National Center for PTSD has put out a guide (pdf) for family members of veterans, explaining PTSD and how to help their loved ones cope with it. Included in that guide is this chart showing combat experiences in 2003, on page 4:
We can also see the long lasting effects of combat in the story of Joseph Patrick Dwyer who killed himself because he couldn't cope. It probably explains why the media won't show us pictures (like these) of what it's really like over there. The outrage and demand for the troops to come home would be even greater than it is now.
Seeing this need, hearing these stories is heart-breaking, to say the least.
It also makes me wonder where the hell John McCain and the right wing blogosphere get off on criticizing Barack Obama as being unsupportive of the troops.
It is McCain who has only voted 30% of the time for giving benefits to help the troops, while Obama has a 90% rating. It is McCain that has no problem exposing our troops to harm for an indefinite amount of time, for an unjust war, mindless that neither the majority of Americans or Iraqis want our troops there. It is McCain, who personally experienced how deep the hells of war can go, and wears those scars with pride, that flip-flopped on torture, and is now just fine with it, as long as it's politically convenient.
But McCain and the right wingers ignore his own crappy track record, and try to criticize Obama for not visiting wounded soldiers in Germany. Of course, Obama was in a Catch-22 on this issue. If he didn't visit the troops, he's not supporting them. If he did visit them, he would be politicizing them, which they would have squawked about as well.
After all, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had already issued an order that military personnel should not be getting involved in politics. McCain and company would have screamed bloody murder about it, ignoring the fact that McCain had already violated that directive himself.
Just another example on how the "Straight Talk Express" is anything but.