150,000 AMERICAN SOLDIER SUICIDES
March 10, 2008
Iraqi citizens kill American soldiers weekly. GIs kill Iraqi citizens daily. Experts say a million Iraqi men, women and children suffered death at the hands of Americans and Islamic fighters. Two million Iraqi refugees languish in Turkey, Iran and Syria. Death, disease and misery haunt Iraq 24/7. As the Iraq War continues, death reaps its grim numbers on both sides. An entire civilization staggers under America’s war machine.
It’s ironic that the architects of the Iraq War, Dick Cheney and George Bush, hid out during the Vietnam War. Cheney enjoyed five student deferments while his buddy Bush got drunk on weekends at the National Guard Armory in Texas.
Later, Robert McNamara admitted that Vietnam, “…was a mistake.” No kidding Bob! Fifty-eight thousand dead and 350,000 horrifically disfigured! Another 2.0 million Vietnamese died while Vietnam suffered desecration via bombs and Agent Orange. Not a small mistake!
What started Vietnam? Someone in the Johnson administration concocted the “Gulf of Tonkin” incident that triggered the 10 year war. All that death and destruction based on a lie. What does Bush hold in common with LBJ? The lie of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
What do the Iraq and Vietnam wars hold in common? Both wars erupted from lies by sitting presidents. Results? Both men killed millions for nothing but the lie itself. What makes the Iraq War lie even worse? For the past six years, America’s borders offered wide open invitations for terrorists to enter 24/7.
Beyond the immediate carnage, what will Iraq bring to America in the long term besides a $5 trillion price tag?
Chuck Dean, a Vietnam War veteran wrote a troubling book, NAM VET, published in 1990 by Multnomah Press. Out of the 2.7 million Americans who served in Nam, Dean reported 58,000 died. That proved small compared to the suicides! “Over 150,000 veterans have committed suicide since the war ended,” Dean said.
Dean served in the 173rd Airborne, arriving in Vietnam in 1965. Dean serves as the executive director of Point Man International, a Seattle based, non-profit organization dedicated to healing the war wounds of Vietnam Veterans.
A VA doctor estimated the number of Vietnam Veteran suicides totaled 200,000 men. He said, “The reason the official suicide statistics were so much lower was that in many cases the suicides were documented as accidents, primarily single-car drunk driving accidents and self-inflicted gunshot wounds that were not accompanied by a suicide note.”
The report added, “According to the doctor, the under-reporting of suicides was primarily an act of kindness to the surviving relatives.”
When I ran and crawled through Army Boot Camp (E-8-2) at Fort Benning, Georgia in the summer of 1968, terror clutched my chest as I struggled through the night machine gun course. Live bullets and tracers ripped through the air four feet over my head as I low-crawled under the concertina wire. Bunkers blew up that vibrated through my body as I scurried across the sand. Sweat bathed my body in fear. Drill Sergeant Pearce screamed at me to keep going. He yelled, “What is your purpose?” I screamed back, “To kill!” If I didn’t yell loud enough, he sent me back through the gauntlet again.
Inside my mind, I cried, “This is completely insane…this is nuts…I’m being trained to be cannon fodder…why must I fight someone who hasn’t done anything to my country?”
Returned soldiers around Ft. Benning suffered jaws half blown away, fingers and hands missing from mines; eye-lids, ears and lips melted off by napalm and hundreds of amputees. It sickened me beyond anything I can write about. I suffered depression as to the uselessness of living.
Why so poignant to me? My college roommate died in Vietnam. The draft grabbed him right out of our room. The U.S. Army trained him and politicians like Johnson and Nixon killed him. The “Silent Majority” said nothing, did nothing and would not raise a finger against the hyper-insanity of Nam.
What did Vietnam accomplish? It made arms manufacturers rich. It filled the pockets of aircraft CEOs. It killed millions. Other than that, it did nothing for world peace or human progress.
This week, March 9, 2008, in the Denver Post, “The Commander” by Erin Emery--another devastating story spoke in print. Major General Mark Graham, Fort Carson, Colorado, suffered the loss of his first son as a U.S. Army Infantry Lt., who died in action in Iraq. Another son hanged himself as he trained in ROTC at the University of Kentucky.
We know that “Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome” stems from the horror of war, the futility of war and the total madness of war. Many men and women face neurological thresholds or face overloads that render mental illness from the senselessness of combat--the sheer terror of watching a buddy blown to shreds.
Of all the sickening and wretched horrors Bush and Cheney visit upon America’s youth, we will not know how many American boys and girls will commit suicide in the coming decades from their personal nightmares in Iraq. How many bodies disfigured beyond human understanding? How many will live lives self-medicating with alcohol, pills or other drugs? How many will suffer divorces or long term depression via the horrors they witnessed or participated in while soldiers in Iraq? How many thousands will become the new homeless on the streets of America?
Bush insists these human calamities vindicate our “War on Terror” weekly while, in truth, he wages a war on humanity. His protégé, Senator John McCain advocates staying in Iraq for 100 years. Obama and Hillary fail to clarify their intentions, thus assuring thousands of added suicides in the years ahead.
In my travels across Europe recently, I met another world traveler who said, “America is the greatest threat to world peace.” I would add--our leaders prove the greatest threat to planetary peace!
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Nazi Hermann Goering said, “Why of course the people don't want war.
Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war
when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in
one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war neither in Russia,
nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.
But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the
policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along,
whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament,
or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always
be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have
to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers
for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works
the same in any country.”