Hero-less Hurt More


When they are of use to the military and the country, they are regarded as heroes. Local residents seem all too willing to show up at their wakes and funerals. Some show up for parades twice a year to honor the fallen on Memorial Day and the living on Veteran’s Day. They are also included in on celebrations for July 4th but that is pretty much it. When they become veterans, no longer of service, but hurt by their service, then they become a problem. Then they are less of hero in our eyes.

We’ll show up for the funerals of these soldiers but what we don’t want to acknowledge is what the survivors of this attack will go through after.

Arrests in Attack That Killed Six US Troops

December 13, 2010, Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan — Several suspects have been arrested after a suicide attack killed six American troops when an explosives-packed minibus blew up at the entrance of a joint NATO-Afghan base in southern Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

The blast on Sunday was the deadliest attack on coalition troops this month.

NATO spokesman Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz said Monday that several arrests were made Sunday night.
“Individuals believed to be involved in yesterday’s attack have been arrested by Afghan and coalition forces,” Blotz said at a news conference, adding that no shots were fired as the suspects were taken into custody.

NATO has declined to identify the victims’ nationalities. But an Afghan army official in southern Afghanistan said on Monday that the six were Americans. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about NATO casualties.

More than 680 international troops have been killed so far this year, well above the 502 killed in 2009. The last attack to kill that many NATO troops happened Nov. 29, when an Afghan policeman turned his gun on his American trainers in the east, killing six of them before he himself was shot dead. The Taliban claimed that they had sent him to join the police as a sleeper agent.
Arrests in Attack That Killed Six US Troops

This was not a gun battle when they faced a known enemy. This, like so many others, was a surprise attack. They never know who is a friend among the locals or who will try to kill as many of them as possible anymore than they know when the next attack will happen.

Regular civilians will be understood if surviving a traumatic event once in their lifetime has created an emotional crisis but we don’t seem to be able to understand the crisis when a soldier has lived through a year of event after event along with the the constant fear of repeated events. We seem to understand even less when they are redeployed over and over again making the possibility of surviving less with each time.

They come home but few people in this country are willing to show up if they need help. Veterans seem to do the most for others simply because they have been there, done that and had to take their boots off when they returned to civilian life where few others could understand them. Considering less than 10% of the population have served and even less have been deployed into combat, that reduces the number of people veterans in need can turn to. Right now we have less than 2 million who have been deployed into Iraq or Afghanistan but their needs are still as great if not more so considering the types of attacks they have survived.

Bombs blow up. Vietnam veterans know that very well. While the obvious outcome of a bomb blast is death and limbs being blown off, the hidden truth is the eyes that saw it all will replay that for the rest of their lives, with or without causing PTSD. From that day on, every road back home is no longer considered safe. Every driver on the road is a potential threat. For some it is just a passing moment in their mind and they are able to focus on reality quickly but for others, that feeling of impending doom lingers. There becomes less people to trust and more of them to fear.

When they turn to the American people for help, especially the VA, and do not get it, it feeds into their mistrust making the symptoms of PTSD to escalate. As they wait for claims to be approved, all too often they have to live without any income, feeding PTSD. As time goes by and they have to fight for their claim to be approved, suffer financially in the process, people around them begin to doubt what is going on because the VA has not honored their claim. After all, this is the VA and they are supposed to take care of veterans suffering for their service to this country, so there has to be another reason for the way the veteran is acting. People wonder why they just don’t drop the claim and get a job since the VA says there is nothing worthy of paying for. By the time the claim is finally approved, there is so much damage done to the veteran that was caused by what came after war their healing is harder to achieve.

As we read about reports like the one about this attack, we need to look far beyond the press release and know that what is coming in the years ahead is a tsunami and no one is ready for any of it. We haven’t taken care of the veterans in need of help we already have. As more and more take off the uniform of those we call heroes, they mean less just as they need us more but we offer them little hope of healing. Unless more civilians step up to help, the odds of them getting the help they need is greatly reduced to the point where we will see many more homeless, incarcerated, divorced and many more than the 18 veterans a day committing suicide.

We need to step up and take care of the spiritual slaughter going on because when a person suffers in life they begin to lose hope of anything ever getting better. With all they face in combat the greatest threat to their lives should never be surviving it.


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