Service members who experience PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to exit the traumatic situation and receive immediate support, and compensation. Too often, service members are forced to redeploy back into dangerous combat, or train in situations that re-traumatize them. We say, individuals suffering from trauma have the right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma. Service members who are not physically or mentally healthy shall not be forced to deploy or continue service. Learn more about what Operation Recovery is fighting for here
More troops lost to suicide
For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included?
But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war.
Originally published 11/24/10 at ChristianCentury.org
The Truth Commission on Conscience in War, issuing its report November 10 in Washington, D.C., recommended that the military revise its rules to include “selective conscientious objection” and urged religious leaders to address issues of conscience during wartime.
“Training has made it so that our soldiers are much more reflexive than they are reflective about things that happen on the battlefield,” said Herman Keizer, a retired army chaplain who once oversaw chaplains in the European Command. “And when they do get an opportunity to reflect, that’s when the moral issues really begin to roll.”
Interview with David Philipps
Originally published 11/12/10 at zocalopublicsquare.org
David Philipps was reporting for his hometown newspaper in Colorado Springs when the Iraq War came home, in the form of a string of murders at Fort Carson. “The newspaper would report on them in the way newspapers do, saying what had happened, following the court cases through. But it wasn’t answering the big question of why were so many young returning soldiers getting arrested for murder?” he said. “Trying to answer that question is where everything started.” In Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home, Philipps tells the story of a how a few returning soldiers who witnessed the worst of war ended up in prison.
Philipps points out that 10 murders in about two years were attributed to one brigade, estimated at about 3,500 soldiers. He observes:
[T]his one brigade had been sent to one of the most violent places in Iraq at the worst, most violent times of the war on two different occasions. They had the worst luck you could possibly have, and took casualty rates at multiple times the rates of other brigades at Fort Carson. They had seen the worst, both in terms of seeing people you care about lost, and in terms of what you’ve done. …
We’re asking very young guys to make impossible moral decisions. Do you overreact in terms of protecting yourself and your unit and maybe kill a civilian, or do you underreact and try and save a civilian and possibly get yourself or your friends killed? They deal with that decision every day.
By Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettini
Originally published 11/11/10 at WashingtonPost.com
Every day brings us new stories of soldiers affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which the VA posits as affecting one in five soldiers. What is less known is that in December 2009 a group of VA clinical psychologists, led by Dr. Brett Litz, identified moral injury as a wound of war, distinct from PTSD, that is rarely addressed.
The groundbreaking study suggested that PTDS does not fully capture the moral and spiritual distress of moral injury, which is especially connected with a sense of transgression of the moral order. While PTSD may accompany it, moral injury is not a medical or pathological condition, but a spiritual and moral issue.
by James Dao
Originally published 11/10/10 at the NYTimes.com
[Today], Nov. 10, a coalition of around 60 mostly left-leaning religious, veterans and anti-war groups are calling on Congress to expand the definition of conscientious objection to allow opposition to a particular war. Leaders of the coalition, the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, assert that broadening the definition would probably lead to more troops applying to become conscientious objectors. But it would also allow for greater religious freedom in the military and improve morale among the troops, they say.
“For many of us, it is a religious freedom issue,” said Rita N. Brock, one of the main organizers of the commission. “The only religious conscience protected now is for pacifists. But the majority of people are not pacifists. I’m not a pacifist. We have a relative view of when violence is appropriate and not appropriate.”
by Adelle M. Banks (RNS)
Originally published 11/10/10 at PewForum.org
WASHINGTON (RNS) On the eve of Veterans Day, religious leaders and veterans called for a reconsideration of conscientious objection to war, saying military members should have the right to object to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for moral reasons.
In a report issued Wednesday (Nov. 10), the Truth Commission on Conscience in War called on the military to revise its rules to include “selective conscientious objection,” and urged religious leaders to address issues of conscience during wartime.
“Training has made it so that our soldiers are much more reflexive than they are reflective about things that happen on the battlefield,”said the Rev. Herman Keizer, a retired Army chaplain who once oversaw chaplains in the European Command.
by Logan Mehl-Laituri
Originally published 11/8/10 at God’s Politics (Sojourners)
Another piece from Truth Commission testifier Logan Mehl-Laituri…
This week we celebrate Veterans Day. For me, it is a tragic holiday. I know many do not share that perspective. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the fact that veterans are a troubled minority, living sometimes in heartbreaking silence about the pain we bear for the things we have done or left undone in combat. When I came home in February of 2005, I was bombarded by banners thanking me for my service; service which, just days prior in the streets of Mosul, had left people dead or wounded. What was I being thanked for?
That moral ambiguity has left me and other veterans with deep moral questions about our service. Some of my compatriots, even my own team leader (a non commissioned officer) would go on to attempt suicide because the ambiguity was so overpowering. Another NCO on my team turned to crystal methamphetamine, but lower enlisted guys could only afford alcohol. We were not given the opportunity to grieve what we had done; our moral consciences were as scarred as our minds and our bodies. We were not allowed to heal properly, and society does not know how to deal with us.
by William Vocke
Originally published 10/22/2010 at www.carnegiecouncil.org
William Vocke, the Senior Program Director for the Carnegie Ethics Studio, asks poignantly, “[H]ow deeply does combat wound the minds of combatants?” When combat is approved by legitimate authority, and yet is violent, intense, and contrary to religious teachings sanctifying life, what is the effect on the combatant? Vocke’s questions conclude with the following thought-provoking inquiry:
Are combatant’s experiences potentially more traumatic because of the horrors they face and the legitimacy they receive? Or, is moral injury to soldiers simply a more extreme extension of the moral issues faced by everyone?
The Untold War: Inside the Hearts, Minds and Souls of Our Soldiers
by Nancy Sherman
Nancy Sherman’s new book, The Untold War, tells the stories of veterans seeking to deal with the pains of psychological and physical wounds. Sherman, who held the United States Naval Academy’s first distinguished chair in ethics (1997 – 99), frames these compelling soldiers’ narratives in philosophical and psychoanalytic terms. As reviewer Elizabeth D. Samet writes, “Sherman rightly construes it as a national ‘duty’ to understand the soldier’s ‘healthy struggle .. to remain alive to civilian sensibilities without losing the … steel and resilience’ essential to military service and to facilitate healing of the psychic rifts war can cause.”
Video Trailer: The Untold War (Video)
Book Excerpt: click here
Author Nancy Sherman’s Website: http://nancysherman.com/