i've been thinking alot lately, and i'm beginning to think that war does a lot more harm than good.
i've been listening to Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King. now, i don't know if he was in viet nam or not, or just did some prodigious research, but this book touched deeply on the experience of the viet nam vet, and the protestors as well. and just from my own reading, and listening to vets who will talk (and they are few, most won't talk about their experiences over there), i've come to a few conclusions.
viet nam fucked a lot of people up. agent orange. napalm. white phosphorous. the traps set up by the viet cong. the atrocities done by both sides. mai ling (i know i'm spelling it wrong, but i'm trying, ok?). the tet offensive. i saw a movie once, a few years back, called, We Were Soldiers Once, & Young. once again, i dont know how realistic it was, but god, it gave me new appreciation for jungle combat. i'm beginning to think the people that died over there got out easy. the cancers. the flashbacks. the nightmares. the suicides. the men & women who are unable to function as normal human beings. i wonder, if you took a poll, how many homeless people are vets.
and then there's the gulf war. my little brother is a gulf war vet. he, too, refuses to say much about his time in the sand. and there are ramifications of his time in Iraq. his short term memory is absolutely for shit. his saying is "i've slept since then." if he has slept since then, the little things do not stick in his mind. he learned to smoke in Saudi, while waiting for the ground war to start. now, bob is an asthmatic. not a good habit to pick up. and he's having a hell of a time kicking it. and he knows lots of people who have similar problems.
and then there's the iraqi vets of today. i read a piece the other day about a man who lost his right eye, and 80% of his short term memory. his wife has to remind him of appointments. he can't even carry a notebook or palm pilot to remind himself because he loses them. and he's had to have a medical discharge. can't have a soldier who can't recall if he's fired 2 shots or 3, eh? i also saw a piece where there are 26 marine amputees who have returned to ACTIVE DUTY! i'm sorry, but there are some balls, there. one man lost both his hands, and while he can no longer have combat duty, he is teaching new recruits martial arts. and there are several officers who have lost legs, etc, who have returned to active duty. while this is inspiring, i sometimes wonder if it was necessary. these men are scarred for life. i saw a piece a few months back where one man lost an arm, and a leg (i'm not real certain on those details, it's the next bit that stuck with me) who tried to commit suicide because he couldnt' see how he could be of any use to his family. fortunately, he was saved, and is now undergoing therapy. and there's aprogram where they build houses for vets for free (kind of a soldierly habitat for humanity). but the cost. i don't know anybody who hasn't at least known someone who lost someone over there. they just named a street for a young man who died the same day his son was born. and he never knew.
i know i don't make political comments, as a rule, but felt i had to say this. is the cost too high? body armor is saving more and more soldiers, but now they're getting more life-changing injuries. paralysis. loss of limbs. loss of mind. is it worth it?
and i still support every soldier whereever they are. it's not their choice to get sent out to war.