Thursday, April 15, 2010

PTSD, costs of war

Lance Corporal Gemma Leary, 25, spat at, kicked and tore handfuls of hair from the heads of two WPCs after they approached her after a night out in Cirencester, Glos.
She was also described as "gnashing her teeth" and attempting to bite the cheek of one woman. One officer, herself a former soldier, said she had never seen such violence from a woman during ten years in the police.
A lawyer acting for Lce Cpl Leary, who has also served with 29 Regiment the Royal Logistics Corps in Kosovo and Northern Ireland, said that she was receiving psychiatric treatment at the time of the incident for "certain problems from her past".

The above is from Aislinn Laing's "Female soldiers praised in Iraq and Afghanistan escapes jail for drunken attack on police officers" (Telegraph of London). Lance Cpl Leary had watched a *rugby* event, Six Nations 2010 opener, where Wales had lost to England and was drinking during the match. Afterwards, she and her boyfriend were engaged in a loud conversation in public well after midnight and the police instructed her to decrease the volume. At some point, she insisted she was leaving for home and the police offered her a ride (these facts are in the court record and not disputed by defense or prosecution). Leary indicated she was accepting the ride and walked with the police towards the van when she then assaulted one of the police officers. The Daily Express notes that, in addition to being ordered to pay damages to the police officers, she "was given a three-year conditional discharge . . . [and] faces being demoted or discharged."

We note the above not to chuckle or shame (or titillate with girl-on-girl violence). She may have had a bad night. She might have consumed more alcohol than she can handle. She might be a mean drunk. She might have just been spoiling for a fight. Or she maybe , and this was what her lawyer argued, suffering from issues related to her deployments. In the US (the above took place in England), courts are being created to address arrests for behaviors which may stem from PTSD. What I see (others may not) is that actions like the above from a male veteran in the US does not lead to moralizing or hand wringing. That's probably in part due to violent killings (of spouses and children) by veterans said to suffer from PTSD. And it's probably due to a growing awareness. Kim Lamb Gregory (Ventura County Star) reports, "Vets with untreated PTSD can develop what [Dr. Carol] Tanenbaum called a 'secondary infection' and sink into criminal behavior, domestic violence, substance abuse and homelessness, and they could wind up in court." [Kim Lamb Gregory is reporting on the Soldiers Project in the US and click link for more information.]

Violence among veterans suffering from PTSD or thought to be ("thought to be" because some are not being diagnosed) is not confined to one gender. And that's why we noted the above. We'll also note that not every veteran develops PTSD and that not every veteran with PTSD has issues with violence. Karen McVeigh (Guardian) reports:

Britain should appoint a cabinet minister responsible for the welfare of ex-service personnel amid concern over the rising number who end up in custody after returning home from a war zone, a former prisons inspector says.
Lord Ramsbotham, who is now president of the Veterans In Prison Association charity (Vipa), said the minister for veterans should work with government departments to ensure the UK's veteran community is properly cared for.

In the US, Sharon Cohen (AP) has a major story (carried by the Monterey Herald -- among others) on PTSD which is both a close up look at some veterans suffering and a facts and figure overview of the basics. We'll note this section on multiple deployments and the increased likelihood of developing PTSD:

For these men and women, life becomes a revolving door of war, home, then back to combat -- sometimes within months -- as they face the same dangers, the same stresses and the same agonizing separation from family.
Multiple tours, according to several studies, have been linked to stress, anxiety and PTSD, which is often marked by nightmares, flashbacks, angry outbursts and insomnia.
"It's common sense," says Dr. Judith Broder, founder of The Soldiers Project, which provides free, confidential counseling to returning troops and their families. "The more deployments there are, the greater the danger not just of combat stress but depression. ... Many people also feel alienated and isolated from their family."

In the US, Binghamton, New York may be getting a counter/cost ticker at City Hall which would detail the financial costs of the wars in real time. WBNG reports that the counter is scheduled to go up next week and that the city's mayor, Matt Ryan, "says it's needed so people realize the toll federal spending is taking on local budgets." George Basler (Press & Sun-Bulletin) adds, "Ryan emphasized not one penny of taxpayer money is going to pay for the electronic sign, which will go up next week. The cost, set at about $6,000, is being funded entirely by private contributions from the Broome County Cost of War (COW) Project, a local peace action group that has been demonstrating against the two wars. The group also will pay for the sign's upkeep." USMC Combat veteran Nicholas Legos writes the Press & Sun-Bulletin to remind that the cost of war includes the dead and wounded as well as the financial cost. IPA issued the following press release yesterday:

The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote Tuesday: "A group called the National Priorities Project has a popular web site that keeps a running tally of the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It even breaks down the cost per city and suggests what could have been purchased in a year with that tax money. ...

"Matt Ryan, the mayor of Binghamton, N.Y., population 47,000, was so impressed with the numbers for his town that he plans to attach a digital cost-of-war counter to the facade of City Hall. By September, Binghamton taxpayers will have contributed $138 million to fund the wars."

A member of the Broome County Cost of War Project, McAnanama is speaking at a news conference Wednesday with Mayor Ryan.

McAnanama said today: "People need to be aware of the simple facts about where our money is going. This year our Pentagon budget is $700 billion while our community and so many others around the nation are facing cutbacks and crises. ...

"Binghamton taxpayers have spent $140 million for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars since 2001, which is more than enough to cover ALL local property tax bills for the next FOUR years. ... New York taxpayers have already spent $67 billion for the seven years of war in Iraq. Compare that to New York State's 2009 High Speed Rail Plan, announced in March of 2009, which aims to spend $10.7 billion to 'transform' and upgrade our transportation systems -- over the next 20 years. ... Private sources paid for the sign and even the electricity for it; no taxpayer funds were used for this project." For further information, see the Binghamton Bridge web site.

Comerford is executive director and Hellman is communications liaison for the National Priorities Project. This year their web site has a tax calculator where taxpayers can put in the amount of federal taxes they paid in 2009 (or 2008) and take stock of how the federal government spent each of their income tax dollars. It also provides localized information that community groups are using to create flyers that some are passing out in front of post offices as many people mail their tax forms tomorrow.

Comerford wrote the piece "Tax Day and America's Wars: What the Mayor of One Community Hard Hit by War Spending Is Doing," which states: "A construction crew will soon arrive to install Binghamton's 'cost of war' counter which will overlook the city's busiest intersection and spur conversation around tax day. During the three minutes local motorists wait at the nearby traffic light, they can join Mayor Ryan in waving good-bye to $100. And Binghamton as a whole can grapple with spending $49,650 in war costs every day of 2010."

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

The following community sites updated last night:

Plus Marcia's "If this were American Idol, he'd be kicked off already," Trina's "The economy," Ruth's "Obama tanks in approval ratings and so do I!," Kat's "If I like it, it always gets cancelled" and Ann's "Terry Gross can't find a woman writer." Blogger/Blogspot is supposed to automatically update with the permalinks to the left -- obviously that is not happening. And that's been the case since Monday for Ann but I only found that out when Martha passed on an e-mail yesterday. Ann's other posts this week are:

We'll close with this from Tim King's "Israel's Declining Sperm Quality Tied to Depleted Uranium Exposure" (Salem-News):

With the latest news, Israel may soon lose the need to create and seek out enemies; with a little help from the U.S. they did this to themselves. (TEL AVIV / SALEM) - Israel's population is facing a dire threat: a drastic depopulation, from the use of weapons that leave behind Depleted Uranium (DU). Depleted Uranium leads to the word Omnicidal, as DU kills everything in the food chain, everywhere the wind blows.
Experts say the dramatic drop in Israel's sperm count could eliminate their ability to reproduce. Research by an Israeli doctor shows a significant drop in sperm count level and sperm motility among young Israeli soldiers in recent years. Sperm motility is the ability of sperm to move properly toward an egg. It is attributed to the inhalation of DU aerosolized nano-particles; the dirty results of extra powerful weapons used by Israel and the U.S. All of that military might as it turns out, could set the stage for a massive Israeli act of population suicide.
A study by Dr. Ronit Haimov-Kokhman released in November, showed a 40-percent decline in the concentration of sperm cells in Israeli sperm donors from 2004 to 2008, compared to samples taken between 1995 and 1999. Sperm banks in Israel are now reportedly turning away as many as two-thirds of potential donors, due to the low-quality sperm. In the past, around one-third of the potential donors were turned away.
According to Ofri Ilani's article in Haaretz, Study: Quality of Israeli sperm down 40% in past decade: "The research confirmed that in 10 years, the average concentration of sperm among donors declined from 106 million cells per cubic centimeter to 67 million per cubic centimeter. The rate of sperm motility has also declined: from 79 to 67 percent, although the profile of donors did not change over that period; they are still young, healthy and do not smoke."[1]

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