Tag Archives: Veterans

Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded, by John W. Whitehead

Veterans who thought they were defending our freedoms have seen their freedoms stripped by the government that sent them off to war. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

Come you masters of war / You that build the big guns

You that build the death planes / You that build all the bombs

You that hide behind walls / You that hide behind desks

I just want you to know / I can see through your masks….

You fasten all the triggers / For the others to fire

Then you sit back and watch / When the death count gets higher

You hide in your mansion / While the young people’s blood

Flows out of their bodies / And is buried in the mud.

— Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”

War drives the American police state.

The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer.

War sustains our way of life while killing us at the same time. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes:

War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don’t understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself.

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

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The Armistice We Need: Time for Vets To Reclaim Veterans’ Day, by Danny Sjursen

Armistice Day, now called Veterans’ Day, was once meant to celebrate peace. That’s a purpose most veterans would still support. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

It wasn’t supposed to be this way; wasn’t meant to be celebrated as such – as Veterans’ Day, that is. When the guns fell silent after more than four years of slaughter in the Great War – which consumed at least 9 million soldiers’ lives – in a widely celebrated, long-awaited armistice, veterans, and even many leaders, swore off war once and for all. Sure lots of the Wilsonian rhetoric of war “to end all wars,” was probably always hyperbolic and politically opportunistic. Nonetheless, it’s remarkable how many veterans and victims of that war truly believed it, were even dedicated to ensure this was so.

Thus, until the Second World War shattered those expectations, and governments around the world then waged near endless wars in the half century afterwards, the Americans, and other peoples celebrated the anniversary of the Great Wars’ end as Armistice Day. By it’s very nature, it was, then, imbued with meaning, with hopes, dreams, demands for a more peaceful future. Here in the U.S. those sentiments are long gone. Their morbid obituary America’s 19+ years of hopeless wars since 9/11. What we’re left with is a rebranded shell of a holiday: Veterans’ Day.

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War and Young Americans, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

The US government hasn’t won a war worthy of the name since World War II, and the wars it has fought have cost trillions of dollars and millions of lives, shattering countless military personnel (see Caitlin Johnstone’s article). Still, Vice President Mike Pence sees nothing but more wars in our future. From Raúl Ilargi Meijer at theautomaticearth.com:

So we’re going to do this all over again? Well, not if I can help it. Not that I have much hope that I can, mind you. As the bastions of war chime on, my voice, like so many others, will be drowned out. The military industrial complex knows how to do propaganda, better than anyone. But I’ll try.

Vietnam gave the US its biggest ever defeat, both militarily and morally, and yet mere years after its deeply humiliating withdrawal was put into action, the country was back at sending its promising young boys and girls not to its school systems, but to far away battle fields to be crippled, traumatized and slaughtered.

I know, I know, the UK and France do that too, but few other places do. Russia today uses its troops to defend its territory, China has yet to reveal its intentions. But the intentions of the US have been known ever since WWII ended.

In 1956, president Eisenhower, himself a longtime military man, warned the country upon taking leave of office, of the military-industrial complex that was threatening to take over its government. Less than 10 years later, that’s exactly what the complex did, and it’s never looked back.

And I’m thinking: you never learned anything at all? Not from Ike, not from Vietnam, not from the non-existent Iraqi WMD, and not from Libya or Syria? How is that even possible? Oh wait, I know, because the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN et al is where you get your so-called news. That’s why. Gotcha.

Today, May 26 2019, and I’m deeply ashamed to say it, I have two stories, one concerning a speech by VP Mike Pence at West Point, the other from Caitlin Johnstone about a Twitter thread initiated by the US military itself. Pence’s speech is heart breaking in its ignorance of US history, Caitlin’s is heart wrenching in its acknowledgment of that same history, and what it does to young Americans.

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Uncle Sam Sent Me to Rehab for PTSD, by Danny Sjursen

The money paragraph: 

Here it is: I’m left with the profound, if hopeless, wish that every American voter and aspirant adolescent soldier would spend a moment with the veterans in rehab across this country tonight. To know what I know, to see what we – all of us – have allowed to happen in our names. There’s romance, and naivety, in that wish, I know, but I wish it just the same. 

From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

I arrived an absolute mess; most of us did. Bloated cheeks, sunken eyes, wearing my PTSD and depression on every inch of my face. I can’t say I really wanted to be there, even if I had volunteered. Ironic, wasn’t it?

This, a civilian treatment facility in nowhere, Arizona, was to be my last official duty as an officer in the U.S. Army – an ignominious end to a once-bright career. Still, the truth is I needed it: After several years of treatment for post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety, I wasn’t getting any better. The Army saw it and decided to retire me a few years early. Over the last year, my life ran off the rails – self medicating, spiraling, the standard drill for a broken vet.

Only those closest to me saw it; however, these were the very ones I’d hurt, who couldn’t take it anymore – with the fallout of bridges burned and relationships sabotaged. Nonetheless, most of us remain publicly functional long after these afflictions have taken the wheel. The frightening paradox of it all was that while my writing only improved, my emotional health deteriorated. That said, kudos to the Army, I suppose, for footing the bill and offering the opportunity for inpatient treatment on my way out the proverbial door. That’s how they do it: Ask the impossible, shatter a life, send for help when you’re too far gone to be of much use any longer – the assembly line of endless wars and the unfortunates who fight them.

It was a strange place, this facility on the outskirts of Phoenix. And expensive! Some 60 percent of the “clients” (as the staff unnervingly referred to patients) were wealthy professionals, well-off white folks with afflictions ranging from depression to suicidal ideation to personality disorders to heroin addiction. Some had Cadillac health insurance plans; a surprising number paid cash, a cool 60 grand.

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One Veteran’s Plea – Get Informed or Ditch the Holiday, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Most Americans will perform the patriotic rituals, especially those concerning the military and veterans, but have no idea what the government does in foreign lands. From Maj. Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Today, every public institution will pause and go through the motions of “thanking” America’s veterans; but the whole pretense ignores that the populace hardly cares about foreign policy.

Veterans’ Day – maybe we ought to drop the whole charade. Don’t get me wrong, there will be celebrations a plenty: the NFL will roll out the ubiquitous stadium-sized flags and march uniformed service members in front of the cameras; cities across the nation will hold parades; and millions of Americans will take a moment to go through the motions and “thank” the nation’s soldiers. Sure, the gestures are sometimes genuine and certainly preferable to the alternative. Still, all this martial spectacle misses the salient point hidden just below the surface: the American people are absolutely not engaged with U.S. foreign policy. Most could hardly name the seven countries its military actively bombing, let alone find them on a map.

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US Mass Shootings: Gun Issue, Mental Health Issue… War Issue? by Caitlin Johnstone

Constant exposure to violence begets more violence. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

Ahh, the day after a high-profile mass shooting in America: the only time Republicans will ever pretend to care about the mentally ill.

A man, pictured above, killed twelve people with a gun at a California bar yesterday, then turned the gun on himself bringing the total number of dead to thirteen. Like a disproportionately high number of mass shooters in the US, he served in the military. He reportedly suffered from PTSD as a result of his experiences in Afghanistan with the US Marines. America’s war in Afghanistan is the longest war in US history.

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On Veterans’ Day, Remember the Lies That Filled Military Cemeteries, by James Bovard

Watch what politicians do to veterans, not what they say to “honor” their service. From James Bovard at mises.org:

Politicians will be heartily applauded for saluting American’s soldiers today. But if citizens had better memories, elected officials would instead be fleeing tar and feathers. Politicians have a long record of betraying the veterans they valorize.

Veterans Day 2018 has been dominated by the confab of political leaders in Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One. American media coverage fixated on President Trump’s cancellation of one of his two visits to U.S. military cemeteries. In his speech yesterday at a U.S. military cemetery in France, Trump declared that it is “our duty … to protect the peace they so nobly gave their lives to secure one century ago.” But that peace was sabotaged long before the soldiers’ corpses had turned to dust. Though the American media exalted French President Emmanuel Macron’s denunciation of nationalism at the armistice anniversary, it was conniving by French leader George Clemenceau at the Versailles Peace Treaty that helped assure that U.S. sacrifices in 1917 and 1918 were for naught.

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