Friday, November 30, 2007

Suicide response from Andrew

Back in the suicide thread, someone named Andrew popped up and said that Aaron's death wasn't attributable to the military. Now, today, he's written another comment and said the following. Because I want him, and everyone else, to read what I have to say in response to his comment, it's getting it's own post.

I originally wrote a long reply to your post, but found myself being more and
more aggressive in response to your aggressiveness.

What aggressiveness? Are you serious, man? I went back and read my response to you and there's absolutely no aggressiveness in my response. You made some very, very broad assumptions about how wonderful the military was at providing care based on your experience and then you proceeded to "blame the victim", Aaron, for losing hope in the system. The only thing I was "aggressive" about was correcting your wrongful assumptions. You trivialized the experiences of Aaron in some kind of machismo fueled, battle of the better wills. And, for the timing of our loss, that was disgusting.

I thought better of it and threw it out the window.When I read your
original post and saw a tragic suicide being blamed on the military (albeit
implied blame), I felt compelled to respond.
As were many people, but you, Andrew, chosen to take a different path (as described above).

There were holes in your logic which I tried to politely push my fingers through
in defense of my employer.

Why are you trying to defend your employer. Because, if you really want to get down to brass tacks,...every American on this blog is your employer. We pay your salary. You're supposed to be working for us, not some tyrant in the White House (although, I realize that the Commander in Chief feels you are under his direct and personal employ).

I realize that this was a mistake. I should have just left it alone. But my
reasoning was that this is an Atheist blog, PM talks about reason and logic all
the time, can’t she detach herself from this issue too.?

You may be right on this one, very fine point. I did lose objectivity. But, it's a little hard to keep objectivity when you're mourning a loss. Sorry - I don't "detach" well from people whom I've loved and lost for at least a month or so. I realize that, in your career, detachment is quite necessary.

The blame-game has already been played out in your mind on this one, and there
is no changing that.

Oh, for crying out loud. This isn't a game - blame or otherwise. This has always been a request to look at what's happening to our returned soldiers and ask if we were doing a good job.

I think this guy could have gotten help in one way or another, and it’s a shame
that he didn’t.

Yeah. Like all the vet affairs people we tried to contact for him, and he tried to contact himself, who blew him off. He didn't get help when he looked for it.

Aaron may have been truly unable to help himself, and for implying blame on his
part, I am sorry.

No, you're not. Because, you're still doing it. If you were truly sorry, you wouldn't have made the asinine claim above this one (in spite of the evidence you've been given). Generally, people suffering from severe PTSD and having gone through some of the issues Aaron had gone through are unable to help themselves 100%. That's why they NEED. HELP. Can you be objective enough to admit that your "employer" may have dropped the ball on Aaron....and thousands of other men and women? If you can't, then YOU are the one who is locked into a position, not I.

But that doesn’t make the military the de facto guilty party. Mental illness is
a complicated and inherently unstable issue. above.

As for your behavior… I am not a troll. I have read and contributed to your blog
comments for a while now (even in Iraq).

Really. So, why was your account just created and made non-public only recently?

So please, don’t treat me like one your creationuts. I was just trying to defend
what I saw as unwarranted, anti-military views in your discussion, and the tone
and rudeness of your response was utterly uncalled for.

Are you kidding me? Unwarranted? Hmmmm. Let's see, shall we? Aaron entered the military and served for many, many years with a great disposition, commitment, and attitude. Then he's sent to Iraq. Where, as his job required, he saw the WORST of the WORST devastation to everyone in his care. The first time he got help in Iraq, he was told that it was "just a little stress and anxiety" and that he should "suck it up." During his second tour, an event happened that completely annihilated hope for more than one man or one woman in his unit. Then, he comes home and is abandoned by his former employer. That treatment, in your estimation, is not worthy of a criticism?

Anti-military? BULL SHIT, SIR! Complete and utter bullshit. And, you know it! How does, "Gee...I really wish the government would get their shit together and protect our troops properly!" anti-military? You throw that term around because it's a buzzword and it allows you to position those who don't agree with this war as unpatriotic. That's crap. You're smarter than that, I hope. Just because someone doesn't agree with the powers-that-be, or criticizes an agency for not doing a better job, doesn't make them anti-military.

Tone and rudeness? Pot. Kettle. Black.

It is not fun being on the opposite side of the ring from you, PM. I can now
honestly tell you that you come across as emotional to this side of the ring and
your arguments are then easily dismissed (subconsciously) on those grounds.

Wow. You're really good at this blame the victim, no accountability for your words thing, are you not? Do they teach self-righteous, smugness in bootcamp or is this an elective pursuit for you? You remind me of someone else I know. Maybe you're related? You haven't been able to dismiss my arguments with ease OR difficulty. You've only made appeals to your own authority and experience and labeled everyone else with a brush of "anti-military". That's not a debate. And, you're damn right there's emotion in this issue. What part of losing men and women to fight a war is unemotional? What part of soldiers killing themselves when they get home is unemotional? What part of people coming back without body parts is unemotional? Frankly, if we're supposed to take emotion out of this equation, then I'm amazed that we'd be able to call ourselves human.

Maybe that is why you have such problems with trolls. They are looking for a
fight, and you give them one… you also play into atheist stereotypes in the

And, here we go again...there's no such thing as an atheist stereotype. But, if being intelligent, thoughtful, unwilling to take the b/s of people who try to use lame rationale and logic, and caring for our troops is an "atheist stereotype", then I'm sure a lot of us would be flattered. And, whoa on the irony... you came to MY blog and made inflammatory statements about someone close to ME, but *I* am the one looking for a fight???? Yeah. Right. You've just broken the irony meter.


aimee said...

I'm guessing this guy hasn't seen the news report that there are 120 men and women that are currently, or have been in service that are killing themselves weekly. Which is higher than average citizens nationwide. If they were being taken care of, the numbers would not be that high.
Sure, be proud of being in the military and for defending freedom, but that doesn't mean you have to agree with how the men and woman are being taken care of once they come home.

Again, Pmomma, I'm very sorry for your loss.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Aimee.
But, now it's bigger than Aaron. I'm really peeved that any solider currently in the armed forces would close their eyes to the situation that MIGHT await them at their discharge. Why would they demean and attack their "fellow man at arms" by insinuating that their fellow man was weak or didn't TRY to get help? What evidence do they have that tells them Aaron (or people who did the same thing Aaron did) didn't try to get help? The answer is that they have no evidence. They're making claims in defense of an organization that is harming their 'brother at arms'. WHY!? Have we really brainwashed some of our troops so much that they can't handle a suggestion that the job could be done better? Why is the person who wants the best for them, post war, the "anti-military" bad guy; while the person who uses them as a disposable GI Joe toy is celebrated and lauded for heroism? I support the troops - that's why I want them home. I support defending this country against all enemies, foreign and domestic - that's why it frosts me to no end that we're NOT being defended. If there were to be an attack on American soil, our troops wouldn't be ready to help HERE. If we're supposed to be fearing for our way of life, then why are our troops (the defenders of that way of life) thousands of miles away? I just don't get it.

Jess Wundrun said...

Possummama, I heard a story on NPR last year about how soldiers with PTSD are often shunned and demeaned among their peers. I'm sure there are complex psychological factors at work, but I think it boils down to two things: each unit is only as strong as its weakest link (so goes the thinking) and abject fear that it will happen to them.

I am at loose ends today because this morning we learned that our cousin was found dead in his apartment, apparently a suicide. He was not in the military and this is not relevant to your story. I just hurt so badly today that I cannot imagine not tearing a new asshole for anyone who would dare to criticize my cousin and his mental demons.

I thought of your words about your cousin often today. I know that mine is not in a better place. All I know for sure is that he doesn't hurt anymore.

And frankly, I worry about Aaron. Someone who so strongly clings to a defense of his "employer" seems like someone who is denying a few realities in his own life.

Taylor said...

I think you are on to something here, Pmomma. Andrew most definitely sounds related to someone I am familiar with as well. Hmmmmm....

Penchant for playing the victim, prone to hyperbole, misreads statements, denies obvious truths -yep. Definitely familiar.

JP said...

Alright, this guy is flat out wrong. I am currently on terminal leave after serving 10 yrs active duty. First, we here in the states can not even fathom what these boys and girls are going through over there. It's not always easy to get the help that you need (look at the homeless population and the percentage of them that are vets). Being in the military you know as well as I, that you are nothing more then a number, stamped, property of U.S Government. These soldiers are NOT getting the help they need. Just look at the stats and the stories of soldiers who returned from Desert Storm. There is no need to protect your employer, I worked for the same company, and I can tell you, don't expect the same protection.

Berlzebub said...

I'll keep this short. Mainly because Andrew's "logic" makes my blood boil. His coming to your blog, commenting on something he apparently knows absolutely nothing about, except what he's spoon fed by his "superiors", and then trying to blame you can call you "anti-military" makes him a four star asshole, and a disgrace to the uniforms that many of my relatives have felt honored to wear.

Anyway, I'm truly sorry for your loss. It's bad enough to loose someone, but loosing someone because of the incompetance of others (regardless of what Andrew may try to believe) makes it even worse.

Okay, maybe I had more to say than I thought.

steelcobra said...

"are you not? Do they teach self-righteous, smugness in bootcamp or is this an elective pursuit for you? "
No, that's definitely not something they teach in Basic Training, but then again, I went through the toughest one in the army, Recon school (5-15th Cav at Ft. Knox), and he may have had a run through Relaxin' Jackson, so I may be off on that one.

As for the individual, yes, that sucks horribly. And it was clearly a failure of his unit to simply get him a medical chapter rather than keeping him in where care was guaranteed. And he more than likely could have received something better than a system that is currently pushed past it's budgeted capability in physical injuries.

"Why would they demean and attack their "fellow man at arms" by insinuating that their fellow man was weak or didn't TRY to get help?"

Not as an excuse, but it is an inherent part of military culture to try to push each other past individual limits, and "signs of weakness," especially those not outwardly visible (such as wearing a cast) are often drawn into question by the other members of their team.

As for the suicide rate, there isn't really any test right now to determine who can handle combat and who can't, all we can do is accept the volunteers for combat arms and hope that they can handle it, and if not that their unit helps them instead of kickeng them to the curb.

Calladus said...

Speaking as ex-military, (USAF, 10yrs, 7 mos) when I was coming up on my “Stay in for life or not” decision, I started finding and talking to retirees. People with 20 years in, veterans of Vietnam, Korea and WWII. And every single vet I spoke with (back in the early '90's) said that the quality of veteran's services was declining. Vet hospitals were lacking, mental health care was being reduced, and veterans care on active military bases was on a “standby only” basis. On top of that, retirement pay was not keeping up with inflation.

But they all loved being able to shop at the BX/PX and Commissary, if one happened to be nearby in the city that they retired. My grandmother has vet benefits through her deceased husband, and is always so happy to visit San Diego. She schedules doctor's visits, shopping trips, and runs on the pharmacy. She just can't get the same quality of care living in Victorville.

While I was stationed on Kadena AFB in Okinawa, my wife started having problems that the military could not diagnose. This was on the largest AFB in the Pacific, 6,000 active duty troops, and another 4-6 thousand dependents. It was a large city. The Navel hospital on Camp Shields rivaled many American hospitals for size and quality of care.

But only for active duty military. Dependents were second class and were fitted in between active duty appointments. Retirees were even lower on the rung. They got seen as space became available.

I was given the opportunity to stay in Okinawa longer than the Air Force would normally grant, because my superiors liked my work. I turned it down for a stateside assignment so that my wife could receive civilian health care. We got stationed to Ft. Irwin, in the middle of the Mojave desert. The nearest town was Barstow. The nearest big city area was San Bernardino, a couple of hours drive away.

When my wife started gasping as her lungs filled with fluid, the Ft. Irwin doctors in the emergency room told her it was only in her head, and prescribed anti-anxiety drugs. We knew it was BS. Finally, after several ER runs over several months, one maverick Major took a look at her x rays and saw her enlarged heart, and started giving hell to the other doctors. He didn't know what was wrong, but he knew my wife was suffering from a form of Congestive Heart Failure – at the age of 32. In his words, the other military doctors were just too used to working with healthy young people and just refused to see the signs of a disease usually found in older people.

We got our referral to heart specialists in San Bernardino, who quickly diagnosed a congenital failure of one of her mitral valve. Tricare started screwing around with allowing us to see the specialists we needed her to see. About that same time, the military started their draw-down and offered to pay me $30 grand to get out.

So I got out. I got a job using my military training as an engineer for a small company here in Fresno. Ten years later, my wife has had two heart surgeries and has an artificial heart valve. She is on coumadin, Alpha blockers, and a host of maintenance drugs.

Her heart surgeon's first words after her first surgery were of anger. If he could have gotten to her even a year or two earlier, he could have repaired her valve, instead of replaced it. She would not have needed her maintenance drugs.

I won't even get into my own problems with military dentistry, I'll only say that they removed part of the bone in my lower jaw because they were not allowed to use dental implants. Implants were only for “cosmetic dentistry” at that time, and so were not allowed. Something my dentist apologized to me for over and over again.

So I got out at the halfway point, when all of my friends in the military were encouraging me to stay the full 20 into retirement. I got out in time to start a new career as an engineer, and never looked back.

I loved the Air Force, it was the greatest time of my life. But the way the military treats retirees and dependents is more than wrong, it is shameful.

Infidel Rooster said...

Holy shit Calladus, that is mind blowing.

My brother entered military bootcamp (Army) on his 18th birthday in order to pay for college. He served for almost a decade and transfered branches because of dissatisfaction with the service as he progressed in rank.
He has been working for the federal government since 1986 and is currently looking to get out for many of the same reasons people have mentioned here.
He was involved in a devastating helo crash due to a mechanical flaw in the aircraft. Despite the government knowing this, they chose not to fix the problem and as a result, three of his colleagues have died in similar crashes since that time. The "normal" annual death rate for people in his line of work is about 1 in 100 per year. Because of the flaw in the helicopter that the government has chosen to ignore that rate is 4 in 100 the last two years alone. This does not take into account the people who have survived these crashes (my brother) but suffer from serious physical injuries. Broken necks, crushed lungs, etc.
I know he wouldn't change his experiences and decisions. He has gotten a lot out of his experience in the military, but to think that this precludes anyone from voicing an opinion, especially a legitimate one, to try and point out some serious flaws in the system as unpatriotic is disgusting.
IMHO this is precisely what it means to be patriotic. We want people such as our men and women in uniform to have quality, reliable care.
It's too bad not everyone feels that way.

Anonymous said...

Well said, everyone!

I can't believe some of the stuff I'm reading here. I knew the problem was bad for vets, but I had no idea it sucked that much for people IN the services.

Betsy said...

I don't have a lot of experience with Iraq/Afghanistan vets b/c my husband is an AF engineer and we chose to live off base. However, at our last base we did live in base housing for a year and a half. One of our neighbors, who we did not know personally, came home from the war to a newborn baby. On his wife's first trip out of the house after giving birth, this man could not handle the baby's noise and shook it to death. He is in jail and they are divorced. I don't know if he had any help adjusting to home life after his experiences or not. He had no history of violence, btw.
This war is just not good for anyone.
I wonder... if it's being kept going for the purpose of the economy? Creating jobs and all that? The last time we had a peacetime, a lot of military were cut.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your cousin. :(