Veteran Suicides

The elephant in the room no one seemed willing to recognize was the idea of moral damage. Asking bright, strong young men like Hunt to fight wars like Iraq and Afghanistan — and Vietnam before that — can be like luring an unsuspecting animal into a trap. The bait is the powerful call to do something good for your country, to sacrifice for a larger purpose. The trap, of course, is the fact wars like Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam are never what the drumbeat of homefront-oriented propaganda says they are.

For the Claude Rains character in Casablanca an expression of shock that there is gambling going on at Rick’s nightclub is an ironic joke on the French officer’s corruption. But for some young Americans, the discovery that there is dissimulation in the corridors of power in Washington — that the war he or she has been sent to sacrifice in is not what it was billed to be — is a true shock to the moral system they may be unable to accommodate or escape.

With powerful historical forces behind them, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon sent us into Vietnam and George W. Bush sent us into Iraq and Afghanistan. The first Tonkin Gulf speedboat incident was provoked by secret US aggression against Vietnam. The second one never happened at all. Yet, they were used to dishonestly justify a war resolution that fully unleashed the dogs of war for a decade. Twenty-nine years later, Congress and the Media laid down again for bogus reports of weapons of mass destruction and the delusion there were Iraqi connections to those who knocked down the twin towers. Both wars were rooted in flat-out lies and delusions.

In both cases, young Americans eagerly signed up to do their nation’s bidding. For the Vietnam War, the number of suicides far exceeds the number of names on the wall in Washington. Chuck Dean, in his book Nam Vet: Making Peace With Your past, puts the number at over 150,000, based on VA and Disabled American Veteran sources

I personally know of two of the 150,000.


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