(Exodus 20:5) — “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate me,”
In the mid to late 1960’s and early 1970’s, hundreds of thousands of young Americans left their youth and innocence to become Airmen, Marines, Sailors and Soldiers and journey to a country the vast majority could not find on a map. They met the devil face to face in places with names like the A Shau and Il Drang Valleys, Hobo Woods, The Rockpile, mountains with numbers like 875 and 881, the brown waters and thick jungles of IV Corps, and the SAM decorated skies of North Vietnam.
Very early on most realized we were not fighting and dying for our country, the flag, mom or apple pie, but were witnessing firsthand the insanity of fighting in an undeclared, illegal and immoral war, supposedly to bring freedom and democracy to a people the vast majority of whom were tired of having their homes burned and bombed and their relatives killed and maimed. They hated our guts and wanted us to hell out of their country.
Many began to realize that as Major General Smedley Butler had said decades before, we were simply hit men for big business in America. The truly brave among us finally outright refused to participate in the insanity.
We came home to a misguided, ignorant nation who blamed its veterans for the mess our criminal politicians had gotten us into. An American population yelled obscenities at veterans who had been victims of unspeakable horrors when they met them at the airports and bus stations on their return home, but gave a pass to the politicians who sent them there. Those responsible for these unspeakable horrors retired quietly to live on their blood money and later write books stating they may have made some mistakes, but were by no means culpable for the damage they created or the veterans they left behind in the hands of the enemy.
Thousands of these returning veterans found themselves unable to adapt to a normal life; many committed suicide or turned to crime. Almost all had problems with their personal relationships. All the while the Veterans Administration refused to address the problems of PTSD, Agent Orange poisoning and a myriad of other issues.
What insanity allowed us to have these same crimes perpetrated on our children by the same breed of criminals who sent us to the jungles of Vietnam?
Something over two years ago, I asked Christian warmongers and George W. Bush idolaters here to please discontinue their support for my son who had just returned from a tour of duty with an Army Cavalry unit in Iraq. Three months after his return he was finally able to get out of the Army.
From my own experiences, I knew my son would be dealing with the demons and horrors of war for years to come. I found him once in the middle of the floor in his room, in the fetal position, yelling at the visions in his head to please go away; I saw him struggling to adjust to a world he could not understand and destroying relationships with those he loved. I saw the fits of depression and the utter fear of being in crowds or the panic he experienced while driving in traffic and on bridges.
After many sessions with Army psychologists, he was told he was suffering from classic symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but the Army, in order to make themselves less culpable for the damage inflicted by war, ruled he did not have PTSD, but instead awarded him a 50% disability for sleep apnea!
Then, about a month ago, the unthinkable happened: the notice came from the Army that he was being reactivated to active duty. He was to report on 9 January 2008, receive three months intensive training and then be deployed again to Iraq.
Shortly after this notice arrived, I received this email from my son:
You need to write another article, I would, but I really can’t put what I am thinking about into something cohesive. You need to write it about how we are coming back messed up only to be sent back; how the army thinks we were not screwed up enough the first time; how we feel the only place we can function is back there; how we are living in a world as a civilian that we fail in being able to adjust; how we make it through battle only to self destruct when we get out. It is like once we get back we are forgotten, no longer heroes, no longer patriots, the only thing we get is the occasional thank you, but thank you for what; if they knew would they still thank us? I always hear how we should not be there, but talk is all it is. I know I have to go back, not just because the army says so, but for my own sanity. I am scared to death though; will it be worse when I get back the second time, or will it be easier, or will I come back at all? Sometimes, I think a quick death in Iraq is better than the slow one I feel I am doing here.
For decades now we have chosen to worship the state rather than ensure our freedom and liberty. The price we have chosen to pay is the lives of our children and grandchildren, sacrificed on the altar of empire and the bottom line of the military industrial congressional complex.
It is time to stop the madness.
Thanks, Chris, for the inspiration.
Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.