Saturday, August 01, 2009

Rorschach issue: military suicide

There is a class of issues I call Rorschach issues; while often based on a real- or at least plausible- issue, they are sensationalized until they tell us more about the follower than the issue. Obama's citizenship is one such Rorschach issue, as are 911 truthers, grassy knollers, da Vinci codes, etc. New ones are thrown up regularly by people with an agenda, movie, or book (or all three) to sell; one such is the issue of the military suicide rate. In a recent UU A Way of Life post, David Markham draws our attention to a post in another of his blogs entitled "We don't need terrorists any more. More and more of American soldiers are just killing themselves" that shows all the earmarks of a Rorschach issue.

The first mark of a Rorschach issue is that it's based upon "facts" that were never researched because they're "common knowledge". David's portrayal of soldiers shows this: "...who for the most part have been screwed over by a capitalistic system which has left them with no jobs, a poor education, and not much of a future state side. When you figure that you best option in life is to become a professionally trained killer for a mercenary army,..." Leaving aside for the moment the "professionally trained killer for a mercenary army" sneer, it is not now, nor has it ever been true of the all-volunteer Army that it is composed of people who couldn't make it in the civilian world. In fact, actual demographics show just the opposite. Here's some stats from the article, "Who Serves in the U.S. Military? The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers" by Shanea Watkins, Ph.D. and James Sherk, whose sources are the Dept. of defense, the Census Bureau, and other primary sources: "...Members of the all-volunteer military are significantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 per­cent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods—a number that has increased substantially over the past four years...Every income category above $40,000 per year is overrepresented in the active-duty enlisted force, while every income category below $40,000 a year is underrepresented. Low-income families are significantly underrepresented in the military. U.S. military enlistees disproportionately come from upper-middle-class families." Nor do they have poor educations- "American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18–24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor’s degree..."

Another mark of the Rorschach issue is that actual facts or numbers are given with no explanation, no context, no way to judge the gravity of the issue. For example, one might say that exposure to chemical X triples the rate of earlobe cancer. Sounds horrible... if one neglected to mention that it triples the cancer rate from one per billion to three per billion. The military is justifiably concerned about an increase in suicide rates; but the raw numbers are quoted without context by people trying to get ratings or sell newspapers. From The Los Angeles Times : "The 2008 estimated rate - 20.2 suicides per 100,000 soldiers - is, for the first time, higher than the national average...The national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is 19.2." Let's look at this raw number- military suicide rates being 1/20th higher than civilian; does that justify rhetoric like "It is inevitable when one is engaged in immoral, homicidal behavior with no justification... you've sold your soul to the devil, and it is not a bargain in your favor because you have given up all hope of ever having any kind of a normal life ever again."? But those numbers deserve another look- is it fair to compare the military to the public at large? To begin with, despite changes allowing women into combat, the Army and Marines especially are overwhelmingly male, and majority (65%) white male. What difference does that make? At 19.5/100,000, that is the highest suicide demographic; 73% of all suicide deaths are white males. (Numbers from ) Many new recruits, joining before college, have never been away from home before- would they have been better off going directly to college? Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Perhaps they should have stayed home and done neither? Not in Montana, with its 22/100,000 rate... that's twice as much increase over the military rate as the military is over the national average- have Montanans, too, sold their souls to the devil?

Combining those stats with another datum from the Times story above, " occur among soldiers who never deploy, Army officials said." which agrees with this one from the Air Force Times , "In a report to Congress, Craig Duehring, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower, said, “there does not appear to be a strong correlation between deployments and suicide.” A check of deployment records found that from 2003 to 2008, only 39 Air Force suicide victims had deployed in the previous 12 months. Another 150 had never deployed." and "That’s reflected in Marine Corps statistics. Amos said the most likely Marine to die by suicide is a Caucasian male, 18 to 24 years old, between the ranks of private and sergeant. The most likely cause: a failed relationship with a woman." suggests a very obvious reason for the increase in suicide rates: the number of personnel has increased faster than the number of counselors and support structures.

A third mark of the Rorschach issue is redefining pejoratives so you can apply them to your bete noire. "Mercenary" does not mean "you get paid for your work"- if it did, then all of us are mercenaries. It means ": one that serves merely for wages ; especially : a soldier hired into foreign service" The US all-volunteer Army is not a bunch of imported Prussians earning a buck- they are young men and women serving a cause larger than themselves, people with a commitment and the courage to act on it. To again quote Dr. Watkins, "Those who argue that American soldiers risk their lives because they have no other opportunities belittle the personal sacrifices of those who serve out of love for their country." Calling them "professionally trained killer" is little better; while killing is indeed part of what they do, it is only part. It would be, by that standard, fair to describe any doctor who performs an abortion as a "professionally trained killer". Oh, wait, I bet he charged for it- make that a mercenary professionally trained killer.

David said, "For all of America's religosity, it has lost touch with its soul." I will agree that's true of some religious blogs. I just hope that anyone outside UU who reads it understands that the bitterness, contempt, and misanthropy displayed are not an inherent part of UU.


Chalicechick said...

I thought there was something fishy about that post.


Bill Baar said...

All David's shown with that post is he lacks spirit; not the rest of Americans. He offends anyone who has had a suicide touch their lives.

Chalicechick said...

In fairness to David, I was trying to verify facts in this post, and for whatever reason, the CDC and the WHO statistics on suicide are quite different. (The WHO statistics support David, the CDC statistics support Joel) Some of this isn't quite to Rorschach-y.


David G. Markham said...

Hi Joel:

Thanks for your thoughtful article. I appreciate it. I understand that you do not like the tone of my post at UU A Way Of Life and I can understand why.

Given that we all have to make moral judgements about what the good life consists of and how we want to live it, I do have a strong bias that giving one's life in the service of imperial conquest is not a worthy cause to devote oneself to and leads to spiritual problems.

Obviously, many people do not agree but suicide rates, PTSD rates, death, destruction, disability, torn families, and societal anomie leaves me wondering still about the soul of America.

I could parse your post and argue with you about the suicide rates and enlistment rates etc., but that misses my point which I orginally wanted to make.

I just have trouble with the idea that our young people should be encouraged to join the military and to to exotic places and kill people at the behest of the plutocrats who run this country.

The killing is legal, and funded, albeit immoral according to the major world religious leaders life the Pope for example, and I am surprised that there are Unitarian Universalistis who would be offended and find it fishy that I would question it.

Thanks again for your thoughtful and thorough article.

All the best,

David Markham

David G. Markham said...

Hi Joel:

While I said I didn't want to parse your aticle, Bill attacked me as being a quack on the UU A Way Of Life, and I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has spent 41 years working in the field of mental health and substance abuse so I am somewhat of an expert. So I want to say that the suicide rate in the United States according to the National Institute of Mental Health is 10.9/100,000. This rate changes by demographic criteria of male vs female, age, race, geographic region of the county, etc.

The rate for people in the United States aged 20 - 24 is about 12.4/100,000. Suicide rates increase with age.

The rate right now in the military is about 20/100,000 which is very high and causes all the concern.

Your calling this a "Rorschach issue" is appropriate if by this you mean that the suicide rate may be a symptom of some dysfunctional disorder in the group health of our military.

There are many indicators we could measure in attempt to determine well being and health. Self inflicted mortality rates seem like a good one to me because they are not subject to interpretation. Dead is dead. What these deaths may mean in terms of the nature of the disorder they are symptomatic of is, of course, the subject of our debate.

My original question to you on the UU A Way Of Life blog was "What are the factors contributing to the high suicide rate of American soldiers?"

I offered my ideas, but I didn't see yours. What do you think?

All the best,

David Markham

Joel Monka said...

I did suggest a reason, David: " suggests a very obvious reason for the increase in suicide rates: the number of personnel has increased faster than the number of counselors and support structures" People under stress with inadequate support will have higher rates of suicide. Do YOU have an explanation why Alaska in 2004 and Montana in 2005 would have higher rates of suicide than the Army at war? Inadequate social services explain both; suddenly realizing you're a war criminal does not.

"in the service of imperial conquest" Can you name a single person from any branch of service who joined up for imperial conquest? Just one name, out of the millions serving. I have no problem with your opposing our overseas adventures. I have a problem with your calling good kids who believe in what they are doing, who believe that they are putting their bodies in harm's way to protect their loved ones "professionally trained killer for a mercenary army". I find that as offensive as hell. Call politicians anything you want- but your continual insulting of kids who believe- rightly or wrongly- that they're dying for *YOUR* free speech shows an inhuman lack of empathy. As did your comparing soldiers to common street murderers in previous posts. As did your attack on chaplains.

Chalicechick said...

I amend my previous statement. Stats from both the WHO and the CDC can be read to support either Joel or David depending upon how you read the statistics.

The weird thing here is that the National Institute of Mental Health is quoting the CDC, and so is the LA Times article that Joel linked to, but neither has a cite about exactly how the are arriving at the numbers they are using. The CDC offers lots of ways to slice statistics.

I don't think using the National suicide rate makes sense. After all, men are way more likely to kill themselves and last I checked, the army was mostly men. (Like, 85 percent of those on active duty.) And according to the WHO, the suicide rate among males aged 15-24 is 16 per 100,000 and aged 25-34 is 19.9 per 100,000.

So, looked at that way, the suicide rate among military folks looks a little higher, but not much more than one would expect given the age and gender of most of the folks in it.

And if David is correct that poor people are more likely to be in the Army, that explains even more of the difference since my understanding is that poor people are more likely to kill themselves than rich people.


Joel Monka said...

CC- yes, I was using the figures for men- to compare the Army (85% male) to the nation at large (48% male) is apples and oranges. In fact, if you look at these stats from The Health Status of the United States Army and correlate them with the stats from the WHO, it makes my case all the stronger. TAIHOD (Total Army Injury and Health Outcomes Database) says the Army is 44% 17-24; WHO suicide rate, 16.1. 48% are 25-39; WHO rate for 25-34 is 19.9- but the TAIHOD stats spill over into the next WHO rate, which is 35-44, 23%. The TAIHOD chart shows about 7.5% at 40-49; WHO numbers for 44-54 are a whopping 25.2! I'll bet a weighted average between 16.1, 19.9, 23, and 25.2 wouldn't be all that far from the 20.2 the Army quotes. In fact, if you look at the WHO chart, it's a near certainty that the difference between the quoted Army suicide rates and the male-only civilian suicide rates is less than the average variance from year to year!

So my question to David is, What high suicide rate? The rate for the military and for civilian men is statistically nil.

Chalicechick said...

Now, fifteen percent of active-duty military folks are women and their suicide rate is lower, but I don't think that would make much difference.

Also two bits of anecdotal evidence:

Anecdotal evidence #1: I grew up in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in America and I only knew two people from my entire school who went into the military. I have lived in several areas with less money and known FAR more from those neighborhoods who went into the military.

On that experience alone, I'm really skeptical of the statistics Joel cites on class and the military.

Anecdotal evidence #2: Of the people I've ever known who went into the military, except for one, all of them have been macho guys who were never the type to talk about their feelings. My guess is that the "tough it out, be a man" social dynamic of the Army both attracts guys like that and increases the psychological pressure on the ones who become troubled.


David G. Markham said...

Hi Joel:

I am at a loss. I was not aware that any kids are in Iraq to guarantee me my freedom of speech as an American?

I am not sure where you are coming from.

There has been a long history since World War II of America's military being used for everything other than defense of Americans.

What was Korea about? What was Viet Nam about? What was the Persian Gulf war about? What was the pre-emptive attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan about?

Certainly not about Dave Markham's freedom of speech or yours for that matter Joel.

So why were these kids fighting and dying? This is the spiritual question that we as Americans have to answer for. I am looking for explanations that have a deep understanding not self serving jingoistic slogans.

I am sorry once again that our communication has devolved into name calling. I was hoping for a more constructive discussion of the major spiritual issues around American's militarism.

All my best,

David Markham

PS - My guess about the high suicide rates of alcoholism is associated with high rates of unemployment and alcoholism especially among native peoples. Emile Durkheim mentions anomie as being a major culprit in societies with high rates of suicidality. I think this may explain some the suicidality currently in our Armed Forces who are engaged in an endless "war on terror" with no end in sight.

David G. Markham said...

Hi Joel et al.:

Sorry about the garbled PS on my last comment. What I meant to write was that the high rates of suicide in Alaska and Montana might be related to the high rates of unemployment and alcoholism in those states. These high rates of alcoholism and unemployment are related to the high percentage of Native Americans in those states who have been subjected to centuries of oppression and subjugation by the colonizing whites. Emile Durkheim pointed out that societies with high rates of anomie have higher rates of suicide.

David G. Markham said...

I also wanted to let Bill Baar know that I have been more closely touched by suicide in my life than most people here both personally and professionally. I am no stranger to terrible tragedy having two children killed in a DWI crash in 1993. Brigid was 5 and Ryan was 8. They would be 22and 25 today.

Dealing with suicidal patients and family and friend surviors of suicide is an important part of my professional practice. My intention is not to offend anyone as Bill accuses me of but rather to ask questions about the sorce of their pain.

Unless we can understand the contributing factors to our grief we are doomed to act out in destructive ways.

All the best,

David Markham

David G. Markham said...

If you want a case description of the kind of situation I am talking about, go to YouTube and search for Kevin and Joyce Lucey and you will find videos of their Winter Soldiers testimony about the suicide of their son Jeff.

I would recommend the viewing of the testimony of any of the Winter Soldiers if one is interested in the spiritual and moral agony of some of our soldiers.

All the best,

David markham

David G. Markham said...

PS - I stand in solidarity with these Winter Soldiers and their families and I don't think they would find my ideas offensive as Bill imputes, but rather validating and comforting.

All the best,

David Markham

Joel Monka said...

"I am not sure where you are coming from."

That much is clear. Let me try to clarify. To begin with, it doesn't matter what Korea or Vietnam was about; nobody who fought in those wars is fighting in Iraq- let's stay in the present tense.

Nor does it matter what the soldiers "really" are fighting for. What matters is what they BELIEVE they are fighting for. None of them enlisted to create an American empire. They enlisted because they believed they were fighting for American ideals, for our safety and rights. Talk to them, listen to them; they believe they are doing the right thing. It doesn't matter if YOU believe they are fighting for our rights; they believe they are fighting in part for our rights; they are idealists. Maybe that's not a good thing to be in your eyes, but they do not see what they are doing as immoral.

Nor do I see them as immoral.

And you still have not demonstrated that their suicide rate is higher than one would expect from an 85% male organization. the NIMH page you provided a link to has links to CDC and WHO references- the WHO document lists the United States male suicide rate at 23.2/100,000. That is within annual variance of every rate I quoted above... and equal to or greater than the "high" Army rate. Can you refute the CDC and WHO numbers?

"I am sorry once again that our communication has devolved into name calling." Who has done that? I said I found your words offensive, and I do. I said they sounded bitter and contemptuous, and I think they do- and I bet a dozen people off the street that don't know either of us would agree. But I don't see anyone doing any name calling here. If Bill called you a quack, he didn't do it here.

Tom said...

Psychological casualties occur in all wars. They are not caused by the spiritual merit or lack thereof of war aims. Nor are they caused by negligent doctors, as Salon insinuates. They just happen. The only way to avoid them is to not wage war.

I may be prejudiced because I know several Army and VA doctors who work with PTSD patients. In my experience they are wise and compassionate professionals dedicated to their patients. They would cure them if they knew how.

The strange thing is that psychological casualties are so rare. Most combat veterans are not mentally disabled. I think this says something about human nature that some people would rather not know, that we have evolved into creatures who, at some level, regard war as basically normal. It usually doesn't drive us crazy. Maybe it should, but it doesn't.

Bill Baar said...

I've spent my days hunting licensed quacks in mounds of mortality data. Your credentials mean nothing to me.

I've heard Docs defend their programs wrapping themselves up in the flag, just as you've wrapped yourself in a soldiers wounds David to argue your case against Iraq.

Argue against Iraq is fine. Your freedom to do that is why many of us went to Iraq.

But to wrap yourself in a solider's wounds to score points is a foul act David.

A cowardly thing to do. The act of someone with a huge spiritual hole.

America's spirit is fine. Yours needs a lot of work.

Bill Baar said...

They just happen. The only way to avoid them is to not wage war.

Witness the wounds of those who have surrendered to know how false this can be....

Joel Monka said...

I found an AP story about a memorial for a Marine who committed suicide. His actions were clearly influenced by "the jingoistic nonsense that their government fed them," and the article makes it pretty clear he was "encouraged on with "Support The Troops" by every Red Neck Ya Hoo" like his parents. He may well have "signed up to go overseas and kill people for stupid slogans like liberty, freedom, and democracy", but you can't tell from the article if he managed to exercise his skills as a "professionally trained killer for a mercenary army" "in the service of imperial conquest" before he killed himself. But somehow I don't think it was "a spiritual disease" that caused him to throw away his life

ogre said...

Using the term "mercenary" to describe soldiers is simple flat wrong--inaccurate and inflammatory.

That said...

I've spoken to both enlisted folk and officers who don't believe that they were sent to Iraq to secure American freedoms (like speech), nor to protect us from imminent threats of WMD (or sugar plum fairies, either of which might be what were dancing in the heads of our then leadership). Some certainly believed the propaganda du jour that insisted that Saddam was a greater threat than Stalin or Hitler and that we had to act now. But the fact that they believed... merely means that they believed that their government would not lie to them when putting their lives at risk. Poor bastards were simply wrong, or gullible.

Citing data from multiple sources (WHO, CDC, NIMH...) is certain to create fuzziness and uncertainty. They're unlikely to have asked the same questions, used the same criteria or the same categories... just for starters.

But the *military* was reporting increased suicides. The military was also using highly suspect causes of death for cases which were clearly suicides, in at least some cases, which -- since a rise in the suicide rate was an embarrassment -- ought to be viewed with grave suspicion. It's also true that some of those not-suicide suicides were so-depicted in order to avoid further investigation of the circumstances where individuals trapped inside a dysfunctional and -- to their view -- criminal command killed themselves to escape. Rather than commit crimes, they refused in the only way they could, at the time, in their conditions, find....

And I believe that there are at least a couple Vietnam vets who've gotten sucked into Iraq, Joel. Guardsmen who no one ever thought would get called up for active service in a foreign combat zone... and shouldn't have been.

Joel Monka said...

You make some good points about the figures, Ogre. And yes, there may be one or two Vietnam Vets in Iraq, but I'd think they would have to be volunteers- they'd be what, 52, 53 years old at the absolute minimum? Surely not the impressionable youth who don't know they're being lied to that David was describing.

ogre said...

Guardsmen who... were led to believe that they'd be called up to defend the nation if it were attacked (no, 9/11 and Iraq have no linkage other than in the delusions of the last administration), or -- and this is what they did expect -- to help their state and nation in a natural disaster.

Bill Baar said...

I have yet to meet a Service Member (and I meet plenty) who wasn't aware of the duty the assumed when they sign up.

They may think the politicians fools. The generals fools. Americans fools. I've heard it all. But each and everyone understood the seriousness and the high responsibilities of their duty.

I serve Veterans and honor their service. I do what I can for their wounds. But anyone who takes their service to argue their own political agenda crosses a line that sends me through the roof, and I will rain all hell down upon them.

Which you can gather from my earlier comments.

ogre said...

Really, Bill? I grew up around the military--and the Guards. I can't recall anything putting forth the idea that the Guards should expect that they might be shipped overseas on long, repeated tours, in a war of aggression.

And yes, they do--frequently--think that politicians and generals and the public are fools, or ignorant.

But anyone who uses their service as a means of suggesting that we owe the people who've put their rights on ice, and their lives at risk, on our behalf anything but the utmost care and consideration--both when making decisions (and approving decisions) that might put them at risk, and in general looking out for their well-being (such as noting an increase in the suicide rate among soldiers, or mercenary-corporate built facilities that kill them... as KBR's criminally substandard work has...) deserves both contempt and abuse. We owe those who put themselves at risk better. Neither Congress nor the People nor the military should accept flagrantly false causes and justifications for putting them at risk, nor should we treat the effects of bad policy... leading to the erosion of morale and increases in suicide. Claiming to be standing up for the troops when one is sheltering politics and policy behind them is contemptible.

And we've seen plenty of that...

Bill Baar said...

I grew up around the Illinois National memorial for the guys who served at Bataan, and then captured, and suffered. I've met some of the survivors. Anyone in Illinois who signs up for the Guard knows what their duty can bring because this story told. And bataan / corrigador was a colossal military defeat for a war a lot of people in the midwest though unnecessary and unwise.

Vets and Veterans healthcare have become a proxy for people frankly too cowardly to argue the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else service members serve at the moment.

The end result is anyone who has served, civilian or military, is automatically deemed nuts.

It's simply unture. It is an awful label to slap on men and women who do very hard work for America.

Gov Blagojevich had a habit of lining up people in wheel chairs, developmentally disabled, etc, when he would give press conferences. We in Illinois used to call them human shields.

Same thing happening here. David using Veterans and their wounds as human shields.

It was cowardly for Blagojevich. It's cowardly for David.

Bill Baar said...

PS Morale was outstanding when I was in Iraq by the way in 2008. I remember the Army of the early 80s in Europe and the morale today doesn't compare.

ogre said...

You've dragged out WWII... in which the US was attacked by the party we went to war with. Somehow I seriously doubt that those in the Midwest didn't feel it was a war we ought to fight after Pearl Harbor. And you've got the gall to use that as a comparison for the illegitimate, aggressive, "pre-emptive" war against Iraq?

For shame, Bill.

"Vets and Veterans healthcare have become a proxy for people frankly too cowardly to argue the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere else service members serve at the moment."


Happy to take on Iraq, any time.

Afghanistan is another issue--one that was allowed to get backwatered and go seriously sour whiel Dubya invested most of the military and other national resources on his grand Mesopotamian adventure. But then, we abandoned the Afghans (and our long term interests) last time we had anything to do with it. It's the pattern; short term objectives, and no apparent understanding of the region or its history, let's go!

Happy to discuss Iraq. Go for it. The proposition that vets and health care are a convenient alternative is a red herring, a faux assertion.

The end result is anyone who has served, civilian or military, is automatically deemed nuts.

Crap. Utter crap. My congregation is quite liberal, on average, politically. And when the Marine major and his family who were beloved members of the congregation were reassigned, there was mourning. No one suggested he was nuts. Nor that the WWII vets in the congregation are. Nor the Korean War vets. Nor the Vietnam vets. Nor the Gulf war vet (singular--that I know of). Nor the Marine captain who wasn't a member--because he was getting shipped over too soon for him to feel like he ought to join... but who many of us kept in our hearts and prayers while he was in Iraq. And he was feted on his return, even though it was just to visit for a few weeks, and then moved away. Nor the mechanic who was stationed for six months at Pendleton before mustering out and getting to go home.

I could continue.

None of them have been sneered at or reviled or called insane, or crazy, or nuts or anything.

You're caught up in the propaganda of your own echo chamber on this one, Bill.

It's simply unture. It is an awful label to slap on men and women who do very hard work for America.

Were it true, it would be.

But it's shameful and scandalous to use the false claim to defame others for having done so.

Gov Blagojevich had a habit of lining up people in wheel chairs, developmentally disabled, etc, when he would give press conferences. We in Illinois used to call them human shields.

So? Blagovitch was a corrupt dirtbag. Shall we start listing all the known corrupt dirtbags who'd stoop to such? I can think of a number... and they're Republicants as well as Democrats.

Let me know if there's a meaningful discussion to be continued. This has shifted to something that's O'Reillyesque bloviating, and I don't have time--or stomach--for it, and won't be monitoring this post further.

Bill Baar said...

Ogre, your point was the Guard mislead about getting deployed. The Guard's been deployed in every war save Vietnam. The Guard in Illinois very aware of Bataan. As a kid, my Dad would take me to the memorial.

No one in the Guard misunderstands that commitment and duty; nor do they ask for any say in deployment other than the say any of us get as voters.

And my Dad was a guy opposed to FDR on WWII. As was the minister of the UU Church I now attend. And a good friend of mine went to prison as a draft resister during WWII. Isolationism was pretty strong in the Midwest.


Markham the coward arguing against Iraq by portraying Veterans as victims. It's exactly the same tack as Nixon used in the 70s per VVAW to portray anti-War Vets as Psycho Vets. It's wrapping Veteran's wounds around your poltical argument, and to discredit your opponents arguement. I remember Barry Romeo with VVAW here in Chicago arguing there wsa no such thing as PTSD. It war part of Nixon's campaign to discredit VVAW as nut cases. Same story today, it's just the sides have changed.


I have no issue debating Iraq, Afghanistan, all of GWOT.

But don't portray Vets as victims and tag any of us who have been over there as damaged or disabled as part of your argument.

Too many guys are encountering that stigma now in the search for jobs. It's cruel politics.

Bill Baar said...

From former VVAWer Jerry Lembcke's Spitting Image: Myth, Memory, and the Legacy of Vietnam

...Lembcke's most controversial conclusion is that posttraumatic stress disorder was as much a political creation -- a means of discrediting returning vets who protested the war as unhinged -- as it was a medical condition. The image of the psycho-vet was furthered through such Hollywood productions as 'The Deer Hunter' and 'Coming Home.'

Markham's rant just the flip side of the same old psycho-vet frame. The big losers are the vets who get stigmatized as mentally disabled victims as part of some ones agenda.

Let's compare Vet's health status, addiction rates, etc. to that of UU Clergy or UUs overall, or LCSWs, before we start tossing out etilologies here.