Saturday, October 31, 2009

PTSD, plastic surgery

War has changed the Oregon Army National Guard, which has deployed troops on 8,400 tours in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. It turned the state's emergency volunteers into combat veterans.
And last month, a Grant County jury considered how much war changed Jessie Bratcher. For the first time in Oregon, and among the first cases nationwide, post-traumatic stress from serving in Iraq was the defense for murder.
Testimony in the nine-day trial in Canyon City, three miles from the death scene, revealed how years after a soldier deployed, the invisible wounds of war led to the town's first murder trial since 1992.
Bratcher was raised by his grandfather Jerry Baughman in Prairie City. "He's my grandson and my son both. I raised him from the time he was a little boy. I don't ever use the word step. That step, it's a dirty word, so I call him my real son."
Since Bratcher was a boy, he worked, splitting and stacking the wood that his granddad sawed. They hunted together, "though he would rather I do the shooting," Baughman said. "He didn't actually care for killing anything."

The above is from Julie Sullivan's "Trauma in Iraq leads to drama in Oregon" (The Oregonian) about Iraq War veteran Jessie Bratcher who confronted the alleged rapist of his fiancee and killed the man. Sullivan explores the crimes and the trial and the verdict. Also exploring the issue of PTSD is Damine Cave in "A Combat Role, and Anguish, Too" (New York Times):

For Vivienne Pacquette, being a combat veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder means avoiding phone calls to her sons, dinner out with her husband and therapy sessions that make her talk about seeing the reds and whites of her friends’ insides after a mortar attack in 2004.
As with other women in her position, hiding seems to make sense. Post-traumatic stress disorder distorts personalities: some veterans who have it fight in their sleep; others feel paranoid around children. And as women return to a society unfamiliar with their wartime roles, they often choose isolation over embarrassment.
Many spend months or years as virtual shut-ins, missing the camaraderie of Iraq or Afghanistan, while racked with guilt over who they have become.

And of course the Iraq War has led to the suffering of the Iraqi people. This week Oliver August (Times of London) reported on plastic surgery in Iraq:

Rasha Khalid, 24, was in the lobby of the Justice Ministry when the bomb exploded. She has shrapnel lodged in her head, neck and breast. Ms Khalid received plastic surgery within two days but will be visiting more doctors. “I need this so I can forget,” she said. “People think plastic surgery is for those who want to be special. But I just want to be normal again.”
The politics of plastic surgery can be treacherous in Iraq. Political parties fighting an election are trying to win favour by offering treatment abroad. Shia politicians send patients to clinics in Iran free of charge. Sunni rivals offer the same in Jordan and Syria. Wealthy patients travel to Britain and the US if they can get a visa.
Yet they may be better off staying at home. When it comes to repairing bomb damage, Iraqi plastic surgeons have more experience than most. Dr Wisam said: “The skills of Iraqi plastic surgeons are vastly improved as a result of the violence. Some are world experts now. No wonder, we sometimes get 300 patients a day. A Western doctor might get that in a month.”

For many in the US, actions against the (ongoing) Iraq War have ended. For many. Not for all.
Justin Juul (San Francisco Chronicle) reports on Justin Falcon and Robin Long and their new action:

Falcon and Long are both members of The San Francisco chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), a national organization started by a group of Iraq War veterans in July 2004 to give a voice to active duty service people and veterans against the war. In four days they'll both be lip-syncing and dancing alongside ten other veterans at Dance Mission Theater in a fundraiser for Dialogues Against Militarism, another anti-war organization that's sending a delegation to Israel to meet with young war resisters on November first.
The drag show is based in pure hard-nosed activism - Falcon and Long are neither gay nor particularly inclined to dance and sing - but part of a group of war veterans who travel the world, speaking in front of students, protesters and government officials.
More Here.

Community websites updated Thursday, Friday and today (Wally & Cedric on the latter). Due to the fact that Blogger/Blogspot remains screwed up, I'll note all the posts at community sites that have gone up starting with Thursday night:

"Alito does his business"
"Rice cooker in the Kitchen"
"The health insurance swindle"
"That's a review?"
"Happy B-day internet"
"Krugman deceives, Hillary goes to Pakistan"
"It was done to punish, attack and shame"
"tony blair, go away"
"thoughts on the elections & the congress"
"Equality and investigations"
"Senator Roland Burris"
"Equality, Roseanne Cash"
"Washington vote, Gavin Newsom"
"Laura Flanders, America's Most Embarrassing Dyke"
"The economy"
"The Oprah effect"
"Tyler Zabel, Dilip Hiro"
"Netflix, Family Guy, Barack the Chick"
"Selling it"
"Trick or Trick?"

We'll close with this from Elaine Brower's "A CALL TO ALL ANTI-WAR ACTIVISTS" (World Can't Wait):

We in the anti-war movement have been tirelessly and endlessly calling upon the government to end the occupations. We want our troops out of the middle east, and an end to the drone bombings that are killing thousands of innocent civilians.

The e-mail address for this site is

thomas friedman is a great man

oh boy it never ends