Saturday, November 10, 2007

An uncharacteristic political rant

I'm sorry I've been a bit scarce. I received some awful news about someone I cared about and it's bothered me to the point of speechlessness. Which, anyone who knows me will tell you, is pretty rare.

Aaron was thirty-three years old and completely beautiful. A rugged, but gentle, spirit who reflected all of the wonderful qualities of humanity. When he was eighteen, he entered the military with the desire to pay for a college education. After a few years of service, he got that education and re-enlisted to serve as a surgical nurse. Of course, he was sent to Afghanistan...and eventually Iraq. He did two tours, for a total of almost three years of service. During that time, he made friends with just about everyone he met. However, towards the end of his tour, he became crippled by anxiety and depression. He was sent home under a medical discharge. Everyone thought that getting him back to the states would insure that he got the help he required to, somehow, put the horrors of war behind him and start over. Unfortunately, as is too often the case in this administration, that didn't happen.

He came home and entered into therapy...however, the therapy was never regular and, although he was diagnosed with PTSD, I don't believe that he ever got the care he needed. He was given medication that he didn't take and, eventually, slipped through the cracks of an over-taxed veterans' care system. Starting five months ago, we began getting news about Aaron's strange behaviors and anxiety. He couldn't sit in traffic because he was afraid that the car next to him would explode. He decided to remodel his house, but the rapport from nail and staple guns through him into a panic. He priced bullet proof glass for his windows and tried to convince his wife that they should install a bunker. He didn't sleep. He developed a hair trigger temper and lost compassion. He went from being the most caring and empathetic man in the world to being cynical and deeply fearful. He lost hope. And, in the end, he lost his desire to live. He took his own life. None of us who knew him will ever be the same again. Knowing him and watching the cruel spiral that he endured has forever changed us. We will never see his name on a wall or hear a tribute to his brave service, even though - I have no doubt - that he WAS a victim of this war.

How many others are there like him?
How many people have to die?
How did his death make the deaths of those killed on 9/11/2001 any more meaningful?
How did his death help America?
How many more will it take before our President and his cabinet figure out that there is such a thing as "too great a sacrifice" for securing freedoms that were never really in jeopardy?
How can we stand united if we can no longer stand with dignity in knowing that we did everything that was necessary to help our returning soldiers?

He's dead. He's not in heaven. He's not "in a better place". He's just gone. What a waste of human life. And, those of us that knew him and loved his spirit will miss him very, very much.


Maggie Rosethorn said...

Oh,Pmomma, I am so sorry to read this. How very sad you and your family must be, to lose a friend like him. My condolences go to his wife, also.

I could go off on a rant about our current president (such a Big Boy! Got himself a war just like his daddy's!) But I won't.

My heart goes to you all. Hugs.

Ginny said...

Unfortunately there are others like him. I knew a guy who went down the tubes as well because of this war. It's infuriating.

Poodles said...

And you know what the likes of Rush, O'Reily and Hannity would say... If people would just support our dumbass president then none of these bad things would happen to these soldiers.

How horribly sad, that the help they need isn't there. It's more important to our administration to make sure Halliburton and Blackwater get rich, than we have good medical care for our Veterans.

Sara (sassy) said...

I am so very, very sorry. I know how much you loved Aaron.

Love and hugs to you and your family.

Perpetual Beginner said...

I'm so sorry Pmomma. My condolences to you and everyone who loved Aaron.

(I cringe at typing this. My youngest son is named Aaron, and the thought of something like this happening to him makes my blood run cold.)

The way this administration neglects and even actively harms its vets once they return home is a national disgrace.

SWE said...

My condolences to Aaron's family and to you. Senseless.

We lost my grandfather the same way. He was the subject of sleep-deprivation experiments by the VA after his ship was torpedoed in WWII, and ultimately could not escape the torture of sleepless nights. The big difference is that we got to borrow him back much longer than Aaron's family.

I am so, so sorry for your loss.

Gramomster said...

PMomma, my deepest condolences to you and Aaron's family. Losing someone to suicide may be the hardest blow.

I saw Lions for Lambs on Friday night. Everyone, please see this movie. I was completely mesmerized, but fidgety. I just wanted to go hug all the kids I know, especially the ones (about 3) who are about to go. I hugged my 15 year old (makes him a little jumpy) and extracted a promise that if the idiots reinstate a draft, he will run as far as he can, as fast as he can fucking go.


Vamp DiVerL said...

What is the sickest thing about this, is, the govt. already knows what this does to our good people in the military, because it's been going on for YEARS.

Every war has the same stories, but the opportunity to do something about it passes each time, and it keeps getting swept under the rug like dirty laundry. Forgotten for some weird reason (I thought knowledge was power, HA) fucking American....

TRULY Sorry for your lose and to the family I wish peace, and I know that won't come easy...

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I am sorry for your loss, and those who knew him as well.

It is happening in Australia, though not on the same scale - whether this is due to better services or the fact that we don't have huge numbers of troops involved in the conflict.

A show aired this week on this very issue - it was described as being an epidemic. A former VA staffer, when he brought the high numbers of suicides to the attention of political appointees was told to

"Make them lower, because God doesn't like the high numbers" -wtf?

I applied to join the Army as a youth ( what was I thinking?) Thank goodness I have flat feet.

keelyellenmarie said...

I am so sorry.

Paul said...

[Silentsanta, NZ]

That's really tragic... I don't know really what to say. Except thank you, for posting that.
I do no think there is any way to make sense of what happened here.

I felt it was especially important for me to read, as I am currently faced with a similar choice; I want to train as a doctor, and in future to work for MSF. One route available to me in NZ is to do my medical training through the NZ military, which is something I have been considering more and more seriously over the last 12 months.
I used to be a pacifist, back in high school; but I no longer subscribe to that ideology. I believe that there can be such a thing as a 'just' war, but I think almost no wars qualify as that. As an example, I would have supported sending UN troops into Rwanda. I supported war in Afghanistan, but I do not support the war in Iraq.
(This distinction is common in NZ; where I am thankful that our government is able to assert itself enough to not alway be drawn to blindly follow the US's retarded foreign policy.)

My grandmother passed away a fortnight ago, and in her belongings over the weekend, we found newspapers from D-Day and VE day; after reading these, and hearing from my remaining grandparents about their feelings back then, I cannot bring myself to condemn all wars. But this attack on Iraq was ridiculous, and not only that, it distracted from far more important humanitarian crises that should have been tackled instead.
It is painfully obvious how casual your incumbent president is with life, of both his own citizens and foreign nationals. Unless you're a fetus, or brain-dead you're really not his priority.

erin said...

I think it's heartbreaking that cases like those are becoming common. I'm so sorry you lost someone dear to you, and I'm even sorrier that he was lost for a pointless, selfish war.

Joanna said...

PMomma, I'm so sorry for thi s terrible loss.

angelsdepart said...

It is sad that all of these people have to suffer so that Bush can prove his point. How many lives is one man's ego worth? Life is precious, I am sorry for this tragedy.

JP said...

That is so sad. I am truely sorry for your loss.

Absolutely terribe.

As a former military member myself, we are looked at (within the military itself) as another number, a statistic....replaceable.

Nicest Girl said...

Horrible news. It is really sad to watch these vets slowly deteriorate. I had a 19 year old family friend go over to Iraq a couple of years ago. Exactly a month after his arrival he was blown up by an IED (along with two others in his tank). It was a sad time but at age 19... I often wonder if it wasn't for the best. When I think of all the things that he would have seen and how he would have been treated when he returned if he came back with any kind of mental problem. Don't get me wrong; he should not have been there in the first place (should have been at home with his 4 other siblings and his father.. he only joined the Marines in the first place so he could go to college). But his death was quick and sudden and not slow, excruciating, and done at his own hand out of desperation.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry for the loss of a special human being who was your friend.

I am constantly grateful to all those who serve(d) the country, but wish no one has to die in what is pretty obviously a pointless war.

Ian Adams said...

Your friend apparently isn't the only one:

America suffers an epidemic of suicides among traumatised army veterans

Ian Adams said...

(Just spreading information, btw, not attacking or belittling your friend's suicide. Having had two friends who saw fit to take their own lives, I definitely sympathise.)

MorpheusPA said...

I'm a lurker delurking for an instant. I'm so sorry for your loss--and that of Aaron's family.

Neither of us believe he's in Heaven, or a better place, but perhaps you can take some comfort in the fact that he's no longer in any pain.