"We have to understand that one of the things that happens in war is, truth dies," said Ray Parrish, a Chicago-based counselor for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, who left a well-paying job with full benefits to work with GIs returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.Thanks, Bob. Got me again!
And he's hearing the same expressions of disillusionment, anger and betrayal that he heard when he counseled Vietnam vets and battled the VA to get them their rights. He's seeing the same shattered psyches, the same wrecked lives, the same post-traumatic stress disorder.
"The first vets over there are the ones having the worst time," he told me recently. "During the invasion part of the war, there was very little thought put into pulling the trigger and a lot of innocent civilians were being killed. The ones who pulled the triggers are the ones who are having the car accidents now."
Values stand-down or no values stand-down, the recruiters will not begin telling teenagers anytime soon about post-traumatic stress disorder; high vet suicide rates (among Vietnam vets, it has been estimated to be triple the number of names on The Wall); or today's equivalent of Agent Orange, depleted uranium, which, when breathed in, can devastate health over the long term and, especially cruel to young couples, cause birth defects.
Supplying this information is the job of the counter-recruiters, and the fact that they're out there is one of the most important stories of the war. The vets themselves are the counter-recruiters, telling the truth to high school students.
This is the way back from post-traumatic stress disorder - the way for shattered men and women to redeem themselves and rejoin the human race. "It's part of the healing," Parrish said. "That's what the vets are doing - making sure the recruiters don't sell at all."
Suppose they gave a war and nobody came? This is what we're witnessing, slowly, one wised-up teenager at a time.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Bob Koehler Hits Hard
He's been an eloquent guest on The Brad Show and I've been reading his columns. His piece on Depleted Uranium hit me hard and I wrote about it here. Now Bob Koehler has hit me hard again, with his newest column, The Counter-Recruiters: All the charm of the draft — and then some. I was doing ok until I got to this part: