Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Don't Call Them "Heroes", You Heartless Bastards!

Are you a manipulator too?

It's a slick trick, one used throughout the ages by the Machiavelli's of the world. It's a way of making your life comfortable at the expense of another's. It's a way of making yourself look good while sticking a knife in someone else. At its best it's predatory, binding the weak in servitude, at its worst it's a fatal torture. Whatever you do, don't call the men and women in our military "heroes".

I know, I know - all the excuses of plausible deniability are still out there (for now). Why, you're just a raging patriot is all! You're bursting with pride at your child! Hooray for all things military! Thanks for keeping us safe! I support the troops because I say only good things! Either you're blind or a traitor!

On Christmas Eve of 2003, Kevin Lucey noticed the first sign of the "hidden wounds" ravaging his grown son, Jeff.

Jeff Lucey, a 23-year-old Marine lance corporal had been back from Iraq just a few months and was living quietly with his parents in Belchertown, Mass.

That night, Kevin suddenly "took off his dog tags and tossed them at his younger sister, crying," and began "saying he was nothing more than a murderer," the father recalled Thursday.

Who gets to decide which feelings count?

No, what you really are is a fool, hiding behind society's hypocrisy. Let's look at what you're really saying, you clever dawg you! What you're really saying is your feelings count more than those of the soldiers'. Rare is the parent who says to their child, "Tell me your honest feelings." Nah, it's much easier to decide their feelings for them. If the kid doesn't agree, fuck 'em, don't want to hear it. This is especially true when you've mistreated them.

It's a natural human inclination to want to hear good things said about yourself. And human weakness being what it is we tend to treat one another as suckers whenever we get the chance. "Hey, clean my toilet for me and I'll say you're a great person!" Which then expands to: "Hey, go fight a war for me and I'll say you're a hero!" The trick, of course, is to leave off the word "sucker" at the end.

But having applied for a state police job, Kevin was afraid that the "stigma" of having "possible issues" would ruin his job prospects, the father said.

Over the next few months, the young man's symptoms kept getting worse. His bouts of rage at the government and at the war grew more frequent.

He drank heavily, once even totaling the family car in an accident. He told his parents chilling stories of Iraqi prisoners he had killed - stories the military has since claimed are not substantiated.

If we're so proud why don't we see this on the front page?

People like to claim human nature is evil so they can give up on a whole host of responsibilities they'd otherwise be obliged to do. But everyone has a need to serve and feel useful. But that does not mean we've reached the point where we fully recognize that. Instead, we use people. We all know there's guaranteed public kudos for serving in the military and a stigma on anyone who disagrees.

"My child gave his life for this country so I'm damn proud of our wars!" I once read where a mother said she had no choice but to believe that.

How selfish is selfish? We are wasting lives in our wars. Admitting that is the beginning of the end of the insanity. Being selfish - wanting to keep the killing going rather than admitting our mistakes - only perpetuates the insanity. Millions upon countless millions of lives have been lost in war. You really want to contend every one of those deaths served a good purpose? Weren't parents of the SS troops just as proud?

His parents finally convinced him that May to get treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but they were shocked by the agency's slow response, the bureaucracy they encountered, and by the tendency of VA docs to release his son after a few days.

"Here you have a [Marine] struggling to try to take his next breath, and they were demanding the [discharge papers] and they were demanding he travel approximately 30 to 40 miles away from our home [for treatment]," Kevin Lucey said.

And waving our red weapons o'er our heads
Let's all cry 'Peace, Freedom, Liberty!'

Shakespeare - Julius Caesar

It's an easy seduction to claim we're always the good guys doing the right thing. But what if those doing the killing don't agree? What if they have to live with the reality of the situation as opposed to some self-serving fantasy? Are you a good parent who wants to hear the truth? Do we want to face the fact we're killing and being killed to obtain natural resources from abroad, just like Germany and Japan did in WWII?

No, we don't have to face it (not yet, anyway) but our soldiers do. They don't have the luxury of lying to themselves. We see no use for the souls, only their bodies. Men whose lives have been wrecked by evil helplessly send others to the same fate. That's why we don't listen to our troops. That's why we cage them with words like "hero" and "savior". That's why we doom them into silence before they can speak.

Don't call them "heroes", you heartless bastards. Let them tell us what they think are - and then accept them regardless.

The next day, Kevin Lucey found the body of his son in the basement of the house, his neck bound with a garden hose, dangling from the beams in the ceiling.

Next to the body was a shrine with Jeff's dog tags, two dogs tags of Iraqi soldiers his son claimed to have killed, several family photos arranged in a semicircle, a photo of his platoon in the middle and three notes.

"He once again was in my lap as I was cutting him down from the beams," the dad said.


Where's the soldiers' wall for victims of suicide?

Suicidal soldiers are humiliated by superiors with fatal results, military medical experts say

["Shut up, kid! Don't want to hear it!"]

Depressed soldiers who seek help for suicidal thoughts have been publicly mocked by higherups, military medical experts told the Daily News.

The bullying involves "humiliating-type behavior in ranks, formations, where soldiers were singled out and identified as someone who is suicidal, publicly ridiculed, and things along that nature," said Army Maj. Gen. Philip Volpe.

"They call a person out in front of a formation and chew 'em out" in a misguided effort at "tough love," said Bonnie Carroll, a retired Air Force major and head of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. "They tell them, 'You dishonored your unit. You're worthless.'"

["If you're not a hero then there must be something wrong with you! Doing God's work here!"]

Volpe, who with Carroll led the Pentagon's suicide-prevention task force, said he has witnessed bullying - and in one case relieved a lieutenant colonel who was verbally abusing a distraught soldier.

As military suicide rates continue to rise as a result of multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Army and the other services have struggled to erase the longstanding stigma of seeking professional help.

"Does the issue of stigma and soldiers being stigmatized exist? Yes. Have soldiers been demeaned, belittled, ostracized? The answer is yes," said Col. Chris Philbrick of the Army's Health Promotion, Risk Reduction Council.

For Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jim Gallagher, 40, of Brooklyn, that stigma - the fear of being seen as weak and how that might affect his career - was too much for him to ask for help.

After a tour in Iraq, Gallagher hanged himself at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in 2006.

"For him, it was an insult to be that vulnerable," said his widow, Mary Gallagher. "He knew it would be the termination of his position" if he sought counseling.

"Jim didn't know how to do that. He didn't know where to go," Mary Gallagher told The News. "I was so blindsided. I had no idea he was in such pain."

["Keep you pain to yourself like a real man! No one will want you if you don't!"]

Last year, a record 245 Army troops killed themselves, with an additional 166 suicides through August of this year [2010].

"There's still a mind-set out there in our culture that says asking for help is a sign of weakness," Philbrick said. "We're trying to get to a place where we see it as a sign of strength."

After four recent suicides in a single weekend at Fort Hood, Tex., Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned of a possible spike in troops taking their own lives.

"The emergency right now is suicide," Mullen grimly noted.

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