What happens when they return?

CNN.com has an article discussing PTSD in returning soldiers.

We ask them to goo out. Spend day after day in fear that it could be their last. Make it the last day for many others.

WAR…it leaves scars that only those who have experienced can ever understand.

While I briefly served and have a National Defense ribbon. I always found myself rather ashamed to wear it. I wasn’t anywhere of risk. I was merely a cadet at a military academy. I have no scars worthy of that pin. I was just active during the close of the gulf war operations.

Tens of thousands have earned that pin. And endured scars to their souls for which I cannot even imagine. Young patriotic men who now look in the mirror and see a killer. It’s my understanding from all accounts that the taking of another human life does something to a good man’s soul.

So how does society handle such an issue? How are we going to handle it? The Brady Campaign folks would like to see these men and women be stripped fo their rights. Those who sacrificed their lives, their bodies, and their souls for our nation. They feel the effects of mental disorders such as PTSD make our returning soldiers high risk and dangerous. Especially combined with the fact that we’ve spent tons of cash training them to be the most lethal soldiers in the world.

I am sure that some would like to just lock them all away and forget they ever existed or sacrificed for us. Much as was done in the Star Trek: TNG episode “The Hunted”.

What surprises me the most is how willing our society is to be soft on criminals. And yet offer less grace to those who’ve suffered on our behalf. What happens when a soldier returns from Iraq. I am sure there are a couple of weeks of downtime. A debriefing period. A small amount of time to re-acclimate from “killing the enemy” to having to do deal with working for a minimum wage as some prick of a manager lords it over you with arrogance. What a transition…I can’t even imagine what it would be like. Seriously, I’m surprised that more people haven’t found themselves throttled by returning soldiers throughout history exclaiming “Do you know what it’s like to watch your friends be ambushed, to watch comrades die in your arms, to take a life – to keep twits like you safe at home.”

The sad truth is that we largely abandon our soldiers upon their return. From war to ordinary life with no sanctuary in between. Could we as a society do them better justice? I think so…

Perhaps we should have a program that facilitates returning combat soldiers a time of greater transition. A year of pay, an opportunity to participate in a number of garden communities or similar social activities (building playgrounds, what not). But a period in which the soldier can reflect and try to become at peace. Feel the dirt in their fingers, or see children laugh and play on a playground they’ve helped build.

Truthfully, I think we owe it to them…

Go give this song a listen courtesy of Revolution Rock and Roll(free download does require joining mailing list, same musician who did the theme song for Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast)