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The Invisible Wounds of War

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Posted on Oct 5, 2012
Democracy Now!

On the eve of the 11th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan, “Democracy Now!” spoke with veterans and an investigative reporter about the conflict’s legacy of mental health crises, soldier suicides and violence upon returning home.

At least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have become victims of the war since the invasion Oct. 7, 2001. In the decade since, some 2.4 million members of the armed forces have served in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly 100,000 have been treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and soldier suicides reached a record high this year.

An investigation into arrests on suspicion of murder among soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., connected the violence to a group of roughly 500 men with brain injuries. Investigative reporter David Philipps discovered that those soldiers had been involved with the worst places in Iraq and were suffering the lasting effects of the deep psychological traumas associated with their experience.

Georg-Andreas Pogany, a retired Army sergeant and an independent veterans’ advocate and investigator, introduces the predicament with unusual sensitivity to the multiple, sometimes contradictory, sometimes aligned, interests in war and peace:

We fully acknowledge that sometimes — and people disagree with our position on this — sometimes war is important and sometimes war it is necessary. We take a historical look at this. There are democracies, there are nations, there are individuals, who owe their very existence to the fact that this is being done.

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But as a nation, we must ask ourselves the question, what is the cost of doing this business? And if we don’t have an honest and open dialogue with the nation and its citizens about what this cost is, then we’re failing. And that cost is not just bombs and bullets. The cost is the psychological cost, the scars, the psychological injuries borne by those who survive war, come home, and then have to reintegrate back into normal life.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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