Monday, May 11, 2009

Sadly, Unsurprising

My peaceful morning at home was shaken by a CNN news alert announcing that a US soldier had killed four other US soldiers before turning his weapon on himself. While no details were provided in the brief report linked to (which I read at 7:40 AM PDT), the bare facts were not surprising, given the last 6+ years.

Our military has been stretched so far that what is surprising is that there haven't been more reports of such incidents. Many of the soldiers, young and not fully trained because of the press of fighting two wars, are on their second year-long go-round in Iraq. They face elusive and often invisible enemies whose hidden IED weapons explode at a moment's notice. They've seen buddies' legs and faces blown off during their tour. They're isolated from the very people they are supposed to be protecting. They get occasional visits from Washington big wigs who praise them to the skies and then sneak out as quickly as they came in. Most know the war was a mistake and that the American public wants them out as quickly as possible, yet, there they sit and watch and wait.

And they know that even if they manage to get home in one piece, relatively speaking, there won't be much waiting for them. The job market has fallen apart, so the chance of getting a job if they leave the military isn't all that great. They also have to face the fact that the lengthy deployments have wreaked havoc on their families, so there might very well be no husband or wife anxious to welcome them home. And if they've been wounded, whether the wound is visible or invisible, they know that they cannot count on receiving the treatment they need to return them to some measure of wholeness.

That is the hell of war. What is so remarkable is that it has become even more hellish because of the last administration being so eager to get its war on that they rushed into this one, lies paving the way.

Five soldiers dead, three wounded.

May God have mercy on us all.



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