The Nation has published an investigative article exposing the reality of war and what it does to the people fighting it. Fifty Iraq combat veterans were interviewed, several of whom I know personally and have heard their stories first hand.
One of them, Sgt Geoff Millard suffers from degenerative bone disease and walks with a cane. His disease is believed to be a result of his exposure to depleted uranium. Last September, four of us from Coos Bay joined Millard and several others at an open house offered by the Pentagon. Millard and three other combat vets were arrested for leaving a flyer about depleted uranium in the chapel. Charges were dismissed by the judge.
My own Marine son has shared some stories that mimic those presented in The Nation article and perhaps someday he will allow me to tell them. Below is an excerpt from The Nation.
Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.
“I’ll tell you the point where I really turned,” said Spc. Michael Harmon, 24, a medic from Brooklyn. He served a thirteen-month tour beginning in April 2003 with the 167th Armor Regiment, Fourth Infantry Division, in Al-Rashidiya, a small town near Baghdad. “I go out to the scene and [there was] this little, you know, pudgy little 2-year-old child with the cute little pudgy legs, and I look and she has a bullet through her leg…. An IED [improvised explosive device] went off, the gun-happy soldiers just started shooting anywhere and the baby got hit. And this baby looked at me, wasn’t crying, wasn’t anything, it just looked at me like–I know she couldn’t speak. It might sound crazy, but she was like asking me why. You know, Why do I have a bullet in my leg?… I was just like, This is–this is it. This is ridiculous.”
Read this article and read Achilles in Vietnam. Both detail the undoing of moral character within the ranks of our troops and more importantly, they both explain HOW it happens. We have to bring them home.