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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Free Times, MidWeek News and USA Today Mentions

Two nice articles on 'Moving a Nation to Care' in the news today, as well as a quick mention of PTSD Combat in USA Today. The first article is from DeKalb (IL) County's Midweek News, and the other from the Columbia (SC) Free Times. I'm sure my South Carolina friends had something to do with this (thanks, guys):

New Book Lays Out the Cost to American Troops for Ongoing War


The New York Times reported Monday that Gen. David Petraeus has recommended that decisions on significant troop withdrawals in Iraq be delayed for six months. That play for more time on President Bush’s surge strategy sets the stage for another round of wrangling between President Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress.

Meanwhile, the new book Moving a Nation to Care lays out in both statistics and personal stories the cost American troops are paying for the continued occupation in terms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the book, author Ilona Meagher notes that 40,000 soldiers have already been diagnosed with PTSD and that “in today’s theaters of war, where troops are dealing with extended and multiple deployments, twenty-four hour operations with no opportunity to unwind, sleep deprivation, ever-changing mission goals and guerilla warfare conditions where enemies and civilians blend together, it has been estimated that cases of PTSD may be higher than in past conflicts.”

Retired naval commander Jeff Huber says the book “is a must read for anyone who understands that the worth of a nation is best measured by how it treats its wounded heroes.”

Click on 'Article Link' below tags for more...

From a feature story on my work in the MidWeek News:

Troops involved with the Haditha massacre were on their third deployment to Iraq. Their second involved the fierce fighting at the siege of Fallujah. On the third. they saw a close friend killed ... “and they lost it,” said Ilona Meagher.

Meagher is the author of “Moving a Nation to Care: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and America's Returning Troops.'” She took her concern to the Internet, tracking scores of examples of returning vets committing suicide, committing murder and suicide, and other self-destructive and violent behaviors.

Meagher says in cases where returning soldiers act out or break laws or are violent in the community, there's a special term for self-destructive behavior: “suicide by cop.” Of the thousands of troops deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, 1,000 who managed to cope and survive the war are now walking the streets of their own country...homeless. Her conclusion? “There has to be something we can do about this.”

She began posting cases that she researched, in groups of 20. The reaction was astounding, bringing her into contact with citizen journalists on the web, [ePluribus] Media, and with sophisticated researchers with Ph.D.s to help in fact checking and creation of a data base, and eventually leading to an e-mail from a publisher asking, “Would you write a book about this?”

“When I looked at a case I asked myself, “Is this an anomaly?” she said. “Then I started tracking cases and in every incident I came across-you wouldn't guess that it would end in tragedy.” ... She and others want to see change...maybe a reverse boot camp or clinic, where soldiers are advised how to handle stress or encouraged to talk about issues that trouble them.

Other supports are needed-ability to afford to go back to college; getting help in finding employment; getting individual or family counseling. “The G.I. Bill isn't as strong as it used to be,” Meagher said. “When World War II soldiers came back, the economy was good and there were a lot of jobs. Now, the unemployment rate be is 7 percent, but for veterans, it's 15 percent.”

Meagher is editor of the online journal “PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within” and she is the author of PTSD Timeline, a comprehensive database of PTSD incidents. She has appeared on Fox News and other media outlets. Her book has won plaudits from both military officials and laymen.

Read the rest, or take a gander at a companion piece.

From USA Today, this brief mention in an interview with Tommy Lee Jones, star of the upcoming film, "In the Valley of Elah:"

In the film, based on a true story, Jones plays a former military police investigator trying to find out why his son was brutally murdered. He comes to believe the war he once supported has misused and discarded its warriors, placing young heroes in a climate of fear and death that turns the ill-trained among them damaged and dangerous.

The movie's questions about Iraq are certain to provoke pro-war pundits and politicians, but mentioning that makes Jones even more defiant. Did he feel any fear about fallout from the movie? "No, I didn't feel any fear about taking on this film at all," he says, pronouncing the word like it is ridiculous. ... "You have to be pretty narrow-minded to call (the movie) un-American or anti-American," Jones says, though he acknowledges there are many who aren't interested in questioning things.

"There sure are," Jones says with a rare chuckle (the prospect of conflict seems to be one of the few things that amuses him). "I've seen a few. I know where some are at! We got a bunch of 'em hemmed up down in San Saba County," the area in central Texas where Jones was born, raised and still lives.

The film opens Friday, and so far, pro-war talk shows and the right-wing blogs have been low-key regarding Elah, while some military bloggers, such as and, have praised it for highlighting issues that are front-and-center in military communities.

A few war supporters have attacked the movie. Conservative columnist Debbie Schlussel labeled it "Bin Laden cinema" and called for a boycott of the actors. The conservative categorized it as an "anti-war, anti-U.S. flick."

Jones dismisses any backlash. "The tactic of leading people into … a war that doesn't make any sense by telling them they are under attack, and if they raise any objection they're unpatriotic, is a very old tactic," he says, his cowboy drawl a low rumble. "And it doesn't intimidate me." As another Texan said: Bring it on.

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