I have written in the past about my personal struggles with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I never fought in a war, lived in a town that was being shelled by Israel, or sat in a cafe when a suicide bomber blew out the front door. I grew up from a very young age (roughly 3 or 4) until age 13 with a very verbally and mentally abusive home environment. Though the circumstances that created the mental illness in me called PTSD are wildly different than the causes of PTSD in refugees and soldiers returning from war...the result is much the same: anxiety, depression, programmed reactions, hyperactive fight or flight instincts, and a host of secondary mental illness (that can include addiction and any number of other mental health coping mechanisms). .
Like many people who suffer from PTSD, I was initially misdiagnosed, put on the wrong pills, and continued suffering from, what was then, an undiagnosed affliction. Thankfully, five years ago, I was diagnosed correctly, given the right medicine (don't be surprised when one of my kids has the middle name Zoloft), and found a life where PTSD plays a very very very minor roll.
I wish the same could be said for the poor, tragic man that opened fire in a Camp Liberty stress clinic today and killed five of his comrades in arms.
While at the gym today, I was watching CNN, and I heard the breaking news that a solider had killed five and wounded several others. The soldier was most likely seeking help from the stress clinic. Unfortunately, help did not arrive in time. These are the stories of war that we hear too little about...the impact on the soldiers...the way that the hearts and minds of thousands and thousands are ripped apart by what they are forced to see, feel, and do.
Tomorrow, there will be people who are calling for this soldier's head. There will be some few that will advocate that he receive help. Others will simply boil it down to him pulling a trigger and the rest is filler.
I have a sister I love with all my heart and a brother who makes me so very proud.
This sister has served three tours of duty in Iraq, and this brother has served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. My little brother, who is just 21 years old, has seen and done things in this life that I can not imagine. For a time, every blog entry on his Myspace page was dedicated to a friend that had been killed in the war. My sister, who enlisted before the war started in order to pay for college, is a brilliant and beautiful woman who once wrote to me telling me about a bomb exploding near where she was sleeping. She was, at the time, also about 21.
When the story broke on CNN today, I didn't see a nameless/faceless soldier. I saw Shannon. I saw Julius. I saw my cousin Vincent. I saw my ex-boyfriend and friend Rada. I saw people that I know and love and who, except for by the grace of God, were not the solider that opened fire today. But they could have been. How easily they could have been.
Right now, I am torn between tears and ridiculous anger. George Bush and Dick Cheney are war criminals. They fabricated a cause for war and have sent hundreds of thousands into battle. They have the blood of tens of thousands on their hands. They have the weight of hundreds of thousands of wounded and damaged bodies and souls and minds on their hands. And though the justice of the land seems to be unable to reach either of them, the justice of God is waiting, and I can only pray that he shows them some of the mercy that they refused to show the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and the young men and women that they sent face their deaths, fears, and nightmares.
It is Bush's fault that this young man walked into a clinic today and pulled the trigger. The solider who opened fire should be taken into care not custody. He should be give the time, space, and quiet to heal and to face the crushing guilt that will come down on him when the full realization of what he has done hits him. He has created a jail cell around his heart and mind as a way to survive what he has already survived. He does not deserve a jail cell around his body.
It should be Dick Cheney and George W. Bush that face courts martial, and George W. Bush, the man who surpervised the most executions of any governor in modern history (and perhaps in the history of the United States) should reap what he has sown. God can be merciful, today, I can not.
My heart and sympathy goes out to the families of those slain today. The blood of your children was shed today, and it never needed to happen. It is time that this nation wake up and understand that mental illness is REAL; it is as real as a broken arm or cancer or any other physical ailment. It is time that we pass health care reform that forces parity between mental illness and phyiscal illness. It is time that we END THIS SENSELESS war. How many more soliders, civilians, militants, HUMAN BEINGS have to die before it ends? How much blood must the beast have before it is sated? How much blood has to be spilled before we, the people of the United States, demand an end. The blood is on our hands as well, and it will take a generation to wash it away.
(Here is a link to an article posted on yahoo regarding today's events in Baghdad)