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Sunday, March 18, 2012

what do you expect?

There were 60 of them. About 12 litters and 48 ambulatory. It was me, another nurse and 3 techs. In the back of a C130 cargo plane flying over the desert. They had a variety of injuries, none critical. There were more psychs than you would think. Back then, those with mental health problems were sent home, not given SSRIs and sent back. No one with PTSD would ever have been sent back.

It was the biggest load I had. The charting was on a tag that was attached to every person. We were expected to chart something on every person, even if they were on the plane only a half an hour. Most often written: Tolerated flight without problem. The flights were short, you would call them hops rather than flights. We flew from base to base for about 12 hours, letting people off, taking people on and some how keeping track of it on paper.

The litters went four high. I had to climb on the first two, to get to the top one. It was noisy. We told them to wave their arm if they needed help.

Back then no one would have been expected to return over and over, up to four times. Like I said, the psychs were sent home. The injured would never have come back. You knew who the enemy was and where they were.

Nowadays the soldiers don't know who the enemy is, where they are hiding. They can't travel safely for fear of having an IED explode under their vehicle. They travel anyway. The injured go back. Those with PTSD are counselled, given medication and sent back. The depressed are given meds and kept over there.

We have essentially hired ourselves a low paid mercenary army to fight our wars for us. The wars really don't affect us unless you know somebody in the military. When it doesn't affect us, its easy to forget about it and think it is OK. Because we don't think about it much, we are surprised, shocked, horrified when something goes terribly wrong. Like Staff Sgt Rober Bales kills women and children. He had been deployed 4 times, had part of his foot amputated, had PTSD, his friend had his leg blown off the day before. Doesn't excuse what he did obviously, but does give some insight into it.

We are forcing these soldiers to do for us what we don't want our own sons and daughters to do. Over and over. When we do that over and over they crack.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...
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rnraquel said...

It is a damn tragedy. Congress needs to do a couple of tours and see how they like it.

B said...

Thank you for writing this. Anon, no one is excusing it. Sheesh.

My husband was deployed to Iraq for 15 months, was home 1 year, and then went to Afghanistan for 12 months. He is a good man, a good soldier. Steady, safe. I was so scared that he was going to lose it....he saw so much, and he has this look when he talks about it. We are pushing our military to the absolute breaking point.

girlvet said...

B
We are. I hope that you and your husband are doing OK.

B said...

We are finally doing really well, thank you! He got home last year...hopefully we'll get a bit longer before he has to go anywhere else!

selsey.steve said...

Every man, without exception, has a breaking point. Warfare brings that breaking point very close.
We should not be surprised when a man in a war zone breaks. It WILL happen.
I feel very sad and sorry for Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Four tours in that hell hole? There's not many who could take that level of constant threat and danger without cracking.

KG said...

Thank you.