This is the face of the war in Iraq
Only one face, of the tens of thousands, radically changed by their experiance in a War Of Choice, Choice by those who don't fight them, not Absolutely The Last Resort! In Wars Of Choice most start questioning the Why? of their being ordered there, Survival becomes the 'Nobel Cause', theirs and those around them, and Survival comes with Deep Costs! Once having normal trained minds, absorbing more knowledge and experiances, the Nightmares of Death and Destruction take over, haughting many for the rest of their lives!
This happens in All wars, to Military Personal sent into anothers Country and to the Citizens of that Country either fighting the invaders or innocents trying to exist in the carnage growing daily, especially to the children! But Wars Of Choice brings on the True Trauma much faster and deeper!
Blake Miller can't stand cats. He didn't always hate them, but that was before Iraq; before he fought in the battle of Fallujah; before the first enemy soldier Miller killed lay rotting in the street for three days, his remains picked over by a hungry cat that had crawled inside the dead Iraqi's hollowed-out chest. Miller's life divides like that, into then and now. Before November 9th, 2004.
You can use another face, not as traveled around the World as the early photo of Blake and seen by millions, but of a recent Tragedy of a Marine haunted by the Nightmares of his War experiances.
This is Eric Hall who apparently, while visiting a relative, had an Extreme Flashback, a flashback similar to others he's had since returning from his service in Iraq, only this one ended Tragically as his body was finally discovered some fifty feet in a drain pipe, not far from where he left his running motorcycle in the middle of a street, by a Tunnel Rat of our 'Nam War Of Choice. Veterans joined Erics family members, friends, and others, searching for him for a couple of weeks before finally finding his body.
Eric's tragedy wasn't a National Story, at first, and has only received scant coverage since it broke and finalized with his burial, than like almost all stories disappears from the countries conscious, a country that sent him, and thousands of others over and over and Still Do, into a War Of Choice and Occupations.
I only found it visiting a site that covers an area where I have a sister, and her family, living in Florida. Than I followed the story till it's tragic end and the burial of this Marine, Eric Hall. You can find more of the reports I posted Here, Here, Here, Here and finally here.
Two more reports have surfaced since Erics death, Eric Hall death ruled "undetermined" and Motorcycle club helps with inappropriate bill for diseased veteran
News of an unpaid bill for a towed motorcycle at a memorial service in Florida for a former marine was enough for the Vietnam Brotherhood to step in and help out.
The captain of the honor guard for the Vietnam Brotherhood, Donald Pedriali was at the memorial service for a former Marine when he learned the young man's family faced a $232 bill for towing the deceased's motorcycle from the intersection near where he died.
Rolling Stone magazine has an indepth report, link above, for it's April '08 issue now up on it's site, about what Blake, and other Veterans, of the past Conflicts to the present Conflicts are going through as they have been completely changed from what they once were and now exist trying to Survive, as they did in the Conflicts, fighting the battles, that were the reality they experianced, in their minds. As the Nation that sent them into Invasion and Occupation almost totally Ignores what it has done to them and the Countries Invaded and Occupied!
Miller's nightmares, insomnia, heightened alertness, self-imposed isolation and persistent recollections of his seven months in Iraq are all classic symptoms of PTSD, an anxiety disorder that results from exposure to an event so psychically frightening that the aftershocks continue for months or even years. Studies estimate that as many as 500,000 troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from some form of psychological injury, with PTSD being the most common. Miller hasn't been to a doctor in over a year, and, like so many vets, he seems to have fallen off the government's radar. He tried the abundance of medications — antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds, mostly — that the Veterans Administration has sent him, but they only exacerbated his nightmares, jitters and apathy. And therapy is hard to get in places like Jonancy: For a while, he tried living in West Virginia to be near a PTSD specialist, but he missed his familiar surroundings and moved back home. Besides, the VA bureaucracy is hell for anyone to navigate, let alone a guy who feels like he could snap at any moment.
"The military makes it hard for these guys to get help," says Rep. Bob Filner, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs. "We're letting ticking time bombs out into society. Suicides are increasing among vets, and many of those with PTSD have felony convictions. The VA and the Department of Defense won't acknowledge the incredible size of the problem, and it's yet another indictment of the war we're fighting and how we deal with these fighters."
Like many disabled vets, Miller feels betrayed by the military, neglected by the VA and misunderstood by pretty much everyone else. "People hear 'PTSD' and they think that means you're crazy," he says. "My aunt tells her kids, 'Don't go around Blake. He might flip out and shoot you.'"
The Blame doesn't only lie with the Military nor any other Government Agency, it Lies Straight In The Laps Of This Entire Nation!
A Nation of Apathy and Denial, placing same into leadership positions that Readily Back using others to show how tough it thinks it is!
Boss, whose speech has grown progressively more slurred, demands his turn, and he takes us through a country breakup song called "Left Side of the Bed." Miller makes an exaggerated sobbing sound as Boss gets to the end, and then busts up laughing. For an instant, he seems genuinely happy. He even hints that, over the past several months, things have felt a little less bleak. "I used to believe that I was gonna be just like Boss — the old vet that everyone is afraid of, who just wants to crawl in a hole and disappear," he tells me. "That's the way I felt when I first came back. But Bodean and Lita really keep me out of it."
Sitting next to each other, Miller and Lita talk about their struggles, often completing each other's sentences. "I just want people to understand what PTSD is," Miller says. "It's not that you're a wack job who needs a straitjacket. It's just that you have thoughts not exactly on the level . . ."
"And you can't stop them," Lita adds.
"Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam," Boss mutters, almost entranced.
Even more than wanting to be understood, Miller wants vets suffering from mental injuries to receive the same honor awarded to those with physical wounds: the Purple Heart. Currently, veterans receive the medal only if they have endured bodily harm during battle. "What's the difference between going into a combat zone and being injured physically versus being injured mentally?" Miller says. "One gives you a visible scar and the other doesn't. Imagine how you would feel to be completely whole and not have the mind to function — just locked inside a hell you can't escape."
Educate Yourselves, for many that surround you suffer the ravages of PTSD, not Combat PTSD but their own nightmares from tragic events in their own lives, happening in their childhoods or adult lives, Trauma's that change them forever and haught their conscious, they do so mostly In Silence!
When a Nation, especially with a powerful military machine, spending obscene amounts of it's wealth on, never questioning exactly where that money goes, looks at the option of War, right next to it being An Option Of Absolute Last Resort the four letters PTSD should not follow but be placed Right Next To or Spoken in the Same Sentence!
A Hat Tip to Ilona Meagher, a tireless civilian advocate, never experiancing Combat Trauma, who had the link at her site. I might have caught it at some point but a visit there gave me the headsup and trip over to read, As You Should.
And so from the spectre of the summer soldier who shrinks from the hard truths and his country's crises, comes the Winter Soldier who will not look away.
97 percent of U.S. deaths in Iraq have occurred after George W. Bush declared an end to "major combat."