Sunday, July 26, 2009

It IS a drug

For the many things The Hurt Locker got wrong from a technical standpoint, they nailed the epitaph 'War is a drug':

"In the first years after returning from deployment, veterans of the two wars are 75 percent more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than civilians of comparable age, race, and sex, according to a 2008 VA study. The rate for motorcycle deaths is an astounding 148 percent higher."

I never had a speeding ticket until I came home from Iraq. Now I have five. The hefty fines have taught me a lesson, but the guys and gals who can flash their military IDs and get off with a warning are at great risk. It's a tragedy to have someone come home from combat only to get splattered across the highway. I'm glad the VA is taking steps to mitigate the problem, but this is an issue of readjustment and mortality. Asking soldiers to slow down on their crotch rockets is akin to rewiring their brain out of combat mode. It isn't that easy, and sadly, these accidents will continue.

14 comments:

JT said...

Indeed.
If we could just figure out a way to re-reroute the cruise ships to the Persian Gulf we'd be in fine order. (Not sure how the cruise ships would fair).
Back to slow reintegration as the rule ala ascension when scuba diving.

DTOM said...

I know what you mean trooper. After WWII the guys from the P-51s and the B-17s and the like all came home with a need for speed.Looking for adventure in whatever come my way, 2 wheels for the Hells Angels, 4 wheeled hotrods,you name it.Now it is this generations turn. You can't just de-compress that fast. The Pentagon Med people and the VA need to recognize the need for retraining a soldier to fit in a non disciplined society like ours!DTOM

NUGHT said...

it is a drug... i think soldier have trouble displacing their pent up adrenaline. in Iraq, when you go on mission you have a release. you able to use that adrenaline to focus on the task at hand and to give you a highten focus. your body doesnt stop making that adrenaline once you come home.. it got use to constantly needing it and producing it... now your back on your couch and your body doesnt know how to shut it off... you left feeling antsy. you need to do something, go somewhere. you need to find a release. motorcycles are a release. Im getting one when i get back home... unfortunaltly, they also kill soldiers who push it too hard.... its a tragic cycle but a very real one.

CI-Roller Dude said...

A few years ago, the police dept I used to work for, spent a lot of money & time training me to ride a police bike.
Most of the M/C crashes I've responded to over the years were due to lack of skill and experience. I rode for many years and really did not have a clue how to ride because I was taught by a truck driving intstructor (my dad). Once I learned the real way, I became safer and it made it more fun.
I suggest when a "joe" returns, take it easy when driving, or let somebody else drive for a few weeks. There ain't no hajjis trying to hurt you.
As usual, by the time the Army figures something so simple out, they come up with some dumbass video that we all have to watch every year.

MT0010 said...

When I went to Fort Hood two weeks ago I was very sadden to see the sign they have as you are about to enter and leave the post, they have a sign counting the number of the days the last fatality occurred on the road. The number was at day two for the last fatality. Two days later it was at four. Hope it gets better again.

Great piece Alex.

Lagunatic said...

Like DTOM said, it just comes with the territory. Always has, always will.

Antitorial said...

crazy stuff. thanks for serving... even if it was in a war your commander in chief should have avoided. The soldiers are heroes regardless of their orders. It's not up to you guys to decide which wall you stand on, and it takes guts to stand on it without question.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Dude,
You know after thinking this "war is a drug" idea over for a week or so...yep...the drug is ExLax because war is the shit.

N.D. Burnside said...

Check out Chris Hedges' "War is a Force that Gives us Meaning." He writes some good stuff about the "drug of war." (I know its not *exactly* what you were getting at, but a good read nonetheless.)

Anonymous said...

Where is the grace period? It is absurd to think a person who has been in combat for 12 months will re-adjust to the American society without any problems.
I've been out of the Army for over a year and I still feel the effects of war.

Dances with Smurfs said...

Is it hard for soldiers to come down off the high of killing women and children when they get home, too? I know they have a tough time giving up raping women...

In 2000, veterans in state and federal prisons and local jails were twice as likely as non-veterans to be sentenced for a violent sexual crime. In the 2004 survey, 1 in 4 veterans in prison were sex offenders (1 in 3 in military prisons), compared to 1 in 10 incarcerated non-veterans.

Alex said...

Dances with Smurfs,

It gets a little easier to stop raping women over time. I've lost my rape enthusiasm over the years that the prospect of raping another woman borders on meddlesome and inconvenience.

Man, you're an experienced troll. You left a name with no link to a profile and used a false cause statistic. Bravo!

I would look at your statistics and see how many of those rapists are Vietnam veterans. That would indicate that being a veteran doesn't mean you're more inclined to rape, just that a large number of men entered the service at one time. Also, it was done in 2000, which doesn't allude to any combat trauma that would suggest an unstable person. People are going rape, no matter if they're soldiers, dentists, teachers or janitors. They come in all shapes, just like trolling idiots.

Dances with Smurfs said...

Alex,
Let me begin by apologizing for my trollish non-sequitur. But it wasn’t any ‘false cause’.

It has been one week since I first heard the words ‘war is a drug’, and I’m still angry. War isn’t a drug. It’s a racket. What you are talking about isn’t war. It’s danger. You are a danger junkie.

Your post about the tragically high rate of MVAs and motorcycle deaths among vets is only partially right. What you and the other commentators are really talking about is danger. The young men in our society actively and vicariously pursue danger, be it driving recklessly, SCUBA diving, or killing people (real or imaginary).

But what contributors like DOTM are missing is that veterans (from all modern wars, including WWII, Vietnam and Iraq) come back more than just a “need for speed”. The point of the physical and mental exhaustion you people go through – the stress, the loss of sleep and calories, the toll of the elements – all that conditioning is designed to inoculate you from stress and trauma.

Your training involves internalising values like these:
...violence has an intoxicating beauty and nobility.
...a man must personally avenge his dishonour.
...it is acceptable to abuse or demean any vulnerable class, gender or ethnic group.
...that wealth, power and prestige are the most important things.
...that winning is glorious and losing is shameful.
...that the suffering of others is their faults, not ours.

In a previous post to this thread, Antitorial stated that “The soldiers are heroes regardless of their orders. It's not up to you guys to decide which wall you stand on, and it takes guts to stand on it without question.” I cannot agree.

There are three parts to heroism: a hero is someone who, in the face of danger or adversity (part 1) displays courage and self-sacrifice (part 2) for some greater good (part 3 – the most important part).

Nobody in their right mind thinks that you and other soldiers don’t display courage in the face of danger. That, to quote Lagunatic, “just comes with the territory”. That is literally what you have been trained to do. You have become used to danger.

But for a greater good? There's the rub.

You brave men and women are placing yourselves in danger for terrible, ridiculous reasons, and we are all paying the price. Every ‘Hajji’ that gets killed (fuck you, by the way, CI-Roller Dude), every servicewoman or civilian that gets harassed and molested, every time you guys get high on speed and shoot friendly soldiers by accident, every time you call a man a ‘fag’ or ‘pussy’ or sing a Jodie, the world becomes a crappier, scarier place.

The dangerous, courageous thing to do for the greater good would be to tell your commanders that you aren’t going to wreck any more lives. That the price that we all pay when you learn to kill for a living is too damn high.

War is not a drug. War is a drag.

For more information on the whole ‘vets and rape’ thing, read the article that I took that 2004 statistic from:

http://www.alternet.org/world/142942/does_military_service_turn_young_men_into_sexual_predators_?page=entire

Alex said...

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do with this information, or why it's being brought up. What should we do, criminalize service? War destroys people and minds. This is not new territory. It does start with our culture, but it only continues with reintegration. Veterans are slipping through the cracks because partly because of the inherent misunderstanding they face with civilians. So whose responsibility is it that women are being raped? Certainly with the individual. People still make their own choices and no one is a victim of their own experience, that much you should understand. You don't come out of the service as a puddle of goo waiting to transform into a monster. Society's need for scapegoating and finger pointing doesn't help anything.

This might blow your mind, but war betters some people. I know it bettered me. I wouldn't hold the same concept of sacrifice and family and honor than I do now. Yes, yes, I know, try telling that to the dead, etc. Everyone comes back changed, not everyone comes back damaged. I'm not a victim and neither is anyone who went on their own volition.