Monday, April 12, 2010

Playing kick the can with PTSD

Noel Brinkerhoff (AllGov) notes today that approximately 300,000 members of the US military have deployed to either Iraq of Afghanistan (or both) three times or more. And then Brinkerhoff notes that additional deployments increase the risk or likelihood of PTSD. And then Brinkerhoff notes a 2009 US Army study. And color me unimpressed.

This is exactly why I objected to the recent study that studied nothing but made some proposals for, yes, "further study." I can sit here and reel off 2006 Congressional hearings I attended where multiple deployments increasing the risk of PTSD were addressed -- and some of those times it was addressed by Robert Gates. I can cite countless hearings in 2006 and 2007 and 2008 on this very issue.

So the fact that, in 2009, we're wasting money and, more importantly, time on 'studies' to tell us what we already know and have known for some time is nonsense. It's, to use Barack's favorite phrase, "kicking the can." It's not addressing a damn thing, it's not dealing with a damn thing. It's creating yet another study that suggests another study and, somewhere along the line, if we're really lucky, some group may step up to the plate and propose actual recommendations (or Congress might start doing some legislating -- and in the 2006 through 2008 hearings, I remember Democrats publicly threatening to and the military insisting that they could address it on their own and that legislation would only harm the military).

No one's being helped or served by "needs further study." TBI and PTSD are the signature wounds of these wars today and that didn't happen yesterday. We should not need multiple and repeated studies all coming to the same conclusions before needed actions are taken. It's nothing but, nod to Barack, kick the can. Leave the problem for someone else to address.

Cheryl Eager (Fort Worth Star-Telegram) has a column on PTSD today which includes:

Identifying how many soldiers and Marines experience PTSD is difficult because some cases go unreported. The stigma is slowly fading but is still attached.
I know of two suicides in my son's battalion after its return from its latest deployment to Afghanistan. It is unclear whether PTSD played a part; but research shows a correlation between suicide and PTSD.
Our community should be aware of the signs. They are all we have to rely on to point those who need help in the right direction.
Many veterans must be told they are exhibiting signs of PTSD before they realize they need help. Emergency room doctors, university professors, employers and loved ones should know the symptoms.
We must all watch for signs of mood and/or behavioral changes and urge the heroes who exhibit them to get help.

Turning to the topic of military families, Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino (Contra Costa Times) reports on children who've lost parents in the wars:

Children from military families are coping with aftermath of a war that is distant, has no sound, and which - some say - no one talks about anymore.
Since 2003, 4,371 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq and another 1,021 in the conflict in Afghanistan - 583 from California and 45 from Inland Empire.
Verdeja, on his fourth and final deployment to Iraq, was killed by a sniper in June 2007, while securing a building with his unit. He turned 20 just a week earlier.
James' brothers Gus, 10, and Angel, 9, were walking home from school when they saw military personnel in front of the house.
"Gus yelled `Justin's home, and he brought his friends,"' Gonzalez said. "They cried for days."

The Iraq War continues. The News Tribune notes a send-off ceremony "for 11 Missouri National Guardsmen from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-135th Theater Aviation Battalion of Lebanaon" on Friday, 11:00 a.m. "at the Blue Moon Theater." Friday's snapshot noted 12-year-old Frankie Hughes whom Tom Harkin's office 'had to have' arrested because a 12-year-old girl sitting in your office to protest the Iraq War is too-many-kinds-of-scary for Senator Harkin. In addition to Frankie being arrested, her mother was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor -- because a child that lives our Bill of Rights is apparently a delinquent in today's society. Matthew Rothschild (The Progressive) reports:

"I did it because it's just completely and totally wrong to give money to something that kills hundreds and hundreds of people," Frankie tells me by phone. "I needed to stay. I've sent letters. I've called. And it never seems to get their attention. I've tried pretty much everything. We're completely nonviolent. We just have to get their attention."
When the police came, Frankie was sitting in a chair in Harkin's office.
"They asked me if I wanted to be arrested," Frankie says. "I said no."
After the police conferred in the hallway, they came back. "They were saying they could put my mom on charges of delinquency of a minor," she says. "She thought it was a joke, but I didn't."

Lily Tomlin appears on WBAI's Out-FM this morning (begins airing at 11:00 a.m. EST, archives for 90 days at WBAI's archives) -- Ruth generally covers Out-FM at her site each Monday night. Lily has many outlets online but we'll note wowOwow -- which I should not more often but just don't have the time. Lewis notes that Marcia posted "The unthinking sexism of TGW" last night and Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "No Lasting Consequences?" went up last night.

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