Friday, December 11, 2009
MARFA, Texas, Dec 11 (IPS) - With a military health care system over-stretched by two ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, more soldiers are deciding to go absent without leave (AWOL) in order to find treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).Eric Jasinski enlisted in the military in 2005, and deployed to Iraq in October 2006 as an intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army. He collected intelligence in order to put together strike packets - where air strikes would take place.
Upon his return to the U.S. after his tour, Jasinski was suffering from severe PTSD from what he did and saw in Iraq, remorse and guilt for the work he did that he knows contributed to the loss of life in Iraq.
"What I saw and what I did in Iraq caused my PTSD," Jasinski, 23-years-old, told IPS during a phone interview, "Also, I went through a divorce - she left right before I deployed - and my grandmother passed away when I was over there, so it was all super rough on me."
In addition, he lost a friend in Iraq, and another of his friends lost his leg due to a roadside bomb attack.
Upon returning home in December 2007, Jasinski tried to get treatment via the military. He was self-medicating by drinking heavily, and an over- burdened military mental health counsellor sent him to see a civilian doctor, who diagnosed him with severe PTSD.
"I went to get help, but I had an 8 hour wait to see one of five doctors. But after several attempts, finally I got a periodic check up and I told that counsellor what was happening, and he said they’d help me… but I ended up getting a letter that instructed me to go see a civilian doctor, and she diagnosed me with PTSD," Jasinski explained, "Then, I was taking the medications and they were helping, because I thought I was to get out of the Army in February 2009 when my contract expired."
As the date approached, a problem arose.
"In late 2008 they stop-lossed me, and that pushed me over the edge," Jasinski told IPS, "They were going to send me back to Iraq the next month."
During his pre-deployment processessing "they gave me a 90-day supply of meds to get me over to Iraq, and I saw a counsellor during that period, and I told him "I don’t know what I’m going to do if I go back to Iraq."
"He asked if I was suicidal," Jasinski explained, "and I said not right now, I’m not planning on going home and blowing my brains out. He said, ‘well, you’re good to go then.’ And he sent me on my way. I knew at that moment, when they finalised my paperwork for Iraq, that there was no way I could go back with my untreated PTSD. I needed more help."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009
Thursday, December 3, 2009
by Garry Wills
I did not think he would lose me so soon-sooner than Bill Clinton did. Like many people, I was deeply invested in the success of our first African-American president. I had written op-ed pieces and articles to support him in The New York Times and The New York Review of Books. My wife and I had maxed out in donations for him. Our children had been ardent for his cause.
Others I respect have given up on him before now. I can see why. His backtracking on the treatment of torture (and photographs of torture), his hesitations to give up on rendition, on detentions, on military commissions, and on signing statements, aredisheartening continuations of George W. Bush's heritage. But I kept hoping that he was using these concessions to buy leeway for his most important position, for the ground on which his presidential bid was predicated.
There was only one thing that brought him to the attention of the nation as a future president. It was opposition to the Iraq war. None of his serious rivals for the Democratic nomination had that credential-not Hillary Clinton, not Joseph Biden, not John Edwards. It set him apart. He put in clarion terms the truth about that war-that it was a dumb war, that it went after an enemy where he was not hiding, that it had no indigenous base of support, that it had no sensible goal and no foreseeable cutoff point.
He said that he would not oppose war in general, but dumb wars. On that basis, we went for him. And now he betrays us. Although he talked of a larger commitment to Afghanistan during his campaign, he has now officially adopted his very own war, one with all the disqualifications that he attacked in the Iraq engagement. This war too is a dumb one. It has even less indigenous props than Iraq did.
Iraq at least had a functioning government (though a tyrannical one). The Afghanistan government that replaced the Taliban is not only corrupt but ineffectual. The country is riven by tribal war, Islamic militancy, and warlordism, and fueled by a drug economy -interrupting the drug industry will destabilize what order there is and increase hostility to us.
We have been in Afghanistan for eight years, earning hatred as occupiers, and after this record for longevity in American wars we will be there for still more years earning even more hatred. It gives us not another Iraq but another Vietnam, with wobbly rulers and an alien culture.
Although Obama says he plans to begin withdrawal from Afghanistan in July 2011, he will meanwhile be sending there not only soldiers but the contract employees that cling about us now like camp followers, corrupt adjuncts in perpetuity. Obama did not mention these plagues that now equal the number of military personnel we dispatch. We are sending off thousands of people to take and give bribes to drug dealers in Afghanistan.
If we had wanted Bush's wars, and contractors, and corruption, we could have voted for John McCain. At least we would have seen our foe facing us, not felt him at our back, as now we do. The Republicans are given a great boon by this new war. They can use its cost to say that domestic needs are too expensive to be met-health care, education, infrastructure. They can say that military recruitments from the poor make job creation unnecessary. They can call it Obama's war when it is really theirs. They can attack it and support it at the same time, with equal advantage.
I cannot vote for any Republican. But Obama will not get another penny from me, or another word of praise, after this betrayal. And in all this I know that my disappointment does not matter. What really matters are the lives of the young men and women he is sending off to senseless deaths.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Or, at the very least, that Obama had stolen his speechwriters.
Because, like Bush, Obama had barely cleared his throat when out came the first mention of September 11, along with the Bushian line: “We did not ask for this fight.”
Like Bush, Obama lied about the lead up to the Afghanistan war, saying that the United States invaded “only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden. “
“President George Bush rejected as ‘non-negotiable’ an offer by the Taliban to discuss turning over Osama bin Laden if the United States ended the bombing in Afghanistan,” the Guardian reported  on October 14, 2001.
Like Bush, Obama looked straight ahead into the camera to address the people of a country he’s about to inflict more hell upon, and said: “I want the Afghan people to understand—America seeks an end to this war and suffering.” And like Bush, he added: “We have no interest in occupying your country.” He even went further out on a flimsy rhetorical limb by saying the United States wants to “forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.”
Well, it’s sure acting like a patron today.