Two Quotes from Rumi:

(Rumi was a 13th-century poet of immense talent. His work highlights the power of literature in its ability to transcend time, language and geographic locations)

 

1)  Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our lives.

 

2) The wound is the place where the light enters you.

 

url.jpg

 

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

Courage 1

 

It is easy to see what courage looks like.  We observe it in the acts of those who, in spite of intense danger or inconceivable suffering, or endless determination, an individual continues to live on. To move forward.  We see it in the movies where it makes us feel safe and in control in events we know we may never survive.

But what does courage sound like? Does it reveal itself in words, in songs, in other types of media?  Perhaps real courage sounds like Silence.  The silence of grief that cannot be expressed in words.  The silence of a heart being shattered.  The silence of hidden tears and silent screams.

Courage 5

And what does courage feel like?  It may be different for every person, yet, individually it contains some singular similarities. Our feelings, much like hearing, is silent beyond ourselves.  Emotions, an element of feelings, come at anytime, day or night.  It cannot be quantified, perhaps because we may not be able to find a beginning or end in its infinitesimal existence.  You see, feelings go beyond emotions. They are deeper, often jumbled together with anger, love, gratitude and sadness.  We feel what we feel.  Attempting to put feelings into words can be exhausting, exasperating, and mostly ineffective.

Courage 18

Courage, like feelings and hearing is also Silent. It is very much present. There is both a sweetness and bitterness in courage. The sweetness of living through a reality that many may never experience.  The bitterness resulting from that very same experience.  It is not about the “why me”, “how come”, or “what ifs” of suffering. Simply having the courage to accept the experience for what it is— an experience that changes a person from the before to the now – and beyond.

Courage 4

We spend too much time trying to define/identify courage. Most results are superficial at best.  For if, as I believe, courage is found only in the Silence… the empty spaces between the noise and what is seen, heard, and felt.  We often miss or mistakenly identify courage.  Its potential seed lives in most of us, yet, it can only be germinated when or if the time presents itself.  For some of you reading this piece may think, “What the heck is she rambling about?”  For others, those who have lived the courage, you may only nod your head and silently say “true”.

Courage 19

WELCOME BACK!

by John DiCiacco – Guest Blog  (John is a veteran & brother who helps make a difference)

Jan & John

I can’t speak for every person who reads your blogs, but I can and will say this, I have missed not reading them.  The only thing that ever depressed me was the first paragraph in your latest blog.  You always come up with something that touches someone, whether it be thought provoking or light hearted.

Your words always mean something to someone. Blogs can and should present different topics and when folks consider one to be difficult to read, then they can choose not to read it. But don’t just complain to the author, because life isn’t always a bowl of cherries.

As we all know, you can’t be everything to everyone so don’t try. But please don’t stop writing your blogs. Take it from this Veteran, I have never read a single one of your blogs that made me feel depressed. You write about reality, especially meaningful to veterans and families who suffer from the wounds of war.

Spouse 1

I know that some times during any given month you have your own personal traumatic experiences that make life a little difficult and so you do your best to just survive. Just like the Veterans whom read your blogs.  When moments arrive that you can’t seem to come up with something to talk about, I can assure you that I do. Or have a Request Button on Note asking the readers if they have something that they would like to talk about through you.

Oh, by the way, your ticket into Heaven has already been secured. Your Ancestors and Guardian Spirits have made sure of that.

As you know, I spent two tours in the Nam and Holiday’s are still very hard for me. Too many Ghosts and way too much guilt for one man to carry.  The haunting reality for many Combat Veterans is the same unhealthy thought pattern we carry and wear on our chests like a sort of Medal.  That thought is this and I quote:  “Why in the hell am I here and not so and so”, or “I don’t have the right to celebrate or be happy when so many of my Brothers will never be here.”  Most Veteran’s never come right out and say these things but the thoughts are real and they and their fallen Comrades are there as well.

John at Vietnam Wall Memorial

Of course, in my efforts to be jolly I would have to self medicate and numb the pain just to get through the ordeal. Afterword the Guilt followed by the shame for drinking was much worse.

I don’t know how I got on all of this but I better stop.

You can blog me anytime you want.

Riverine 2

 

The Pain of Pain

Filed Under Healing, Injury, Knee surgery, Pain, Tears of a Warrior, Trauma | Comments Off on The Pain of Pain

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

Knee pain 7

Knee pain 2  Golly, it is hard to believe that it has been several months since we posted a new blog.  To be honest, we’ve been pretty busy with traveling, teaching, and working with veterans across the country, yet during any down time we had, I just didn’t feel like writing. Until now and even today I can’t fully admit that I’m eager to write again. But today, I simply suspect that I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself and want to at least think that by writing this blog I am doing something more useful than sitting on the couch or the toilet, lying in bed, and attempting to hobble around the house one more time.

A week ago I underwent knee replacement surgery.  For the life of me I am still trying to convince myself that this was a good idea or even necessary, since even on my worst day I never felt this awful or been in such pain. Does this sound a bit like whining? To quote Bret’s famous line at the end of the movie, Gone With the Wind, “Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn!” Doctor’s never fully explain or show videos of how much fun the recovery process will be, especially, the first two weeks.  If they did, I wonder how many candidates would opt for the procedure.  It’s kind of like when one is going through pregnancy classes, they never show the birth movies until close to the end of the nine months.  Not that it is going to change one’s mind at such a late date or would make any difference because that living football inside of you has to come out sometime, and trust me it will not be “deflated”.

Knee pain 5

During my whiney period, I got to contemplate the effects of pain on our mental and physical world. My acute pain, hopefully, is only going to last for ten days to two weeks. So many of our veterans have to endure months and even years of unbelievable hurt not knowing when or if the agony will ever go away.  I think about the thousands of individuals going through horrendous procedures to combat cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and many challenging illnesses.  It is this kind of pain I really can’t imagine.  I can’t imagine the stamina and courage it takes to get us through each day only to face another twenty-four hours of hell.  One of my sister’s had to make this cancer journey and even today she continues to be one of my heroes.

The effects of severe pain at times can take over not just the body but the mind. It is hard to remember when you felt normal; it is tricky to maintain any kind of short-term memory. Heck, I couldn’t tell you what I did fifteen minutes ago, nor do I care. Thank goodness my children are grown and not in need of a “functional” mother. Bailey, my husband’s service dog, is pretty persistent, however, to remind me that he needs fed (if Tony isn’t around). The constant pain impacts my ability to maintain a positive attitude. It is so much easier to be gnarly than to be kind. Reminds of a Maxine cartoon my sister sent me. Constant, acute pain make it difficult to be empathetic to others in need or to even realize that even in your worst pain, there is probably, someone out there enduring an event even more challenging and taxing.

 

 

The only things I can do at these difficult moments are to take a deep breath, pray, count my many blessing, and be hopeful that this too will end. Oh, and to shout very, very loud, “I am never going to go through another ##### knee surgery again!!!!” Unless, dementia fails to remind me of how #### fun this experience has been.

Knee pain 8

How We Learned to Kill

Filed Under Combat PTSD, Tears of a Warrior, Trauma, Troops, War | Comments Off on How We Learned to Kill

NYT 1


SundayReview | Opinion

How We Learned to Kill

Guest Post:

By TIMOTHY KUDO FEB. 27, 2015

NYT 2

 

THE voice on the other end of the radio said: “There are two people digging by the side of the road. Can we shoot them?”

It was the middle of the night during my first week in Afghanistan in 2010, on the northern edge of American operations in Helmand Province, and they were directing the question to me. Were the men in their sights irrigating their farmland or planting a roadside bomb? The Marines reported seeing them digging and what appeared to be packages in their possession. Farmers in the valley work from sunrise to sundown, and seeing anyone out after dark was largely unheard-of.

My initial reaction was to ask the question to someone higher up the chain of command. I looked around our combat operations center for someone more senior and all I saw were young Marines looking back at me to see what I would do.

I wanted confirmation from a higher authority to do the abhorrent, something I’d spent my entire life believing was evil. With no higher power around, I realized it was my role as an officer to provide that validation to the Marine on the other end who would pull the trigger.

NYT 3

 

“Take the shot,” I responded. It was dialogue from the movies that I’d grown up with, but I spoke the words without irony. I summarily ordered the killing of two men. I wanted the Marine on the other end to give me a reason to change my decision, but the only sound I heard was the radio affirmative for an understood order: “Roger, out.” Shots rang out across the narrow river. A part of me wanted the rounds to miss their target, but they struck flesh and the men fell dead.

When I originally became an infantry officer, increasing my Marines’ ability to kill was my mission, and it was my primary focus as I led them to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, as a young lieutenant, I had faith in my Marines; I trusted them and looked up to them. But in the back of my mind, I always wondered whether they would follow my orders in the moment of truth. As the echoes of gunfire reverberated and faded, I received my answer. Yes, they would follow me. I also received affirmation to a more sinister question: Yes, I could kill.

The primary factors that affect an individual’s ability to kill are the demands of authority, group absolution, the predisposition of the killer, the distance from the victim and the target attractiveness of the victim.

So began the essay I wrote during my Marine Corps infantry officer training in 2008. The assignment said, “Discuss the factors that affect an individual’s ability to kill.” I focused on lessons I had learned reading Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book “On Killing,” which deconstructs the psychology of taking human life. It explains how, throughout the past century, military social systems and training evolved to make humans less reluctant to take a life. But while Mr. Grossman’s work was descriptive, my training was prescriptive.

Before I was given the authority to order a kill, I trained to do it by hand. I practiced the techniques of killing for more than a year before taking command of a platoon. I became the master of my rifle, thrust my bayonet through human-shaped dummies, and only then learned the more advanced methods of modern warfare: how to maneuver a platoon of 40 Marines and call for artillery barrages and aerial bombardments. But mastering the tactics of killing would have been useless if I wasn’t willing to kill.

In war, of course, there are many ways to kill. I did so by giving orders. I never fired my weapon in combat, but I ordered countless others to fire theirs. It was a disorienting sort of power to have: I would speak a few words, and a few seconds, minutes or hours later people would die. Of course, our snipers became the celebrities of our deployment because they were the best killers. They would perch in their hide, watching the villagers through high-powered optics that allowed them to see faces from hundreds of yards away. They would watch and wait until the moment when they could identify an enemy among the civilians. The fighters would fall before the echo of the shot reached their dead bodies. They would truly never know what hit them.

Before killing the first time there’s a reluctance that tempers the desire to know whether you are capable of doing it. It is not unlike teenagers longing to lose their virginity but also wanting to wait for the right time to do it. But once killing loses its mystique, it no longer becomes a tool of last resort.

In Marine officer training we were taught to be decisive. Even a bad decision, I was told, is better than no decision at all. But the combination of imperfect judgment, the confidence of authority and absolute decisiveness does not produce measured outcomes.

For a while after I ordered the Marine to take that first shot, everything we did seemed acceptable. It revealed that killing could be banal. Each day would bring a new threat that needed to be eliminated. Bombs would drop, Marines would fire and artillery would blanket hills with explosions. I had a rough estimate of how many people we killed, but I stopped counting after a while.

I spent every day of my seven-month deployment in Afghanistan trying to figure out how to kill the Taliban commander in my area. He lived and operated to our north and every day would send his soldiers down to plant bombs, terrorize the villages and wrestle with us for control of the area. Our mission was to secure the villages and provide economic and political development, but that was slow work with intangible results. Killing the Taliban commander would be an objective measure of success.

I never killed him. Instead, each day we would kill his soldiers or his soldiers would kill our Marines. The longer I lived among the Afghans, the more I realized that neither the Taliban nor we were fighting for the reasons I expected. Despite the rhetoric I internalized from the newspapers back home about why we were in Afghanistan, I ended up fighting for different reasons once I got on the ground — a mix of loyalty to my Marines, habit and the urge to survive.

The enemy fighters were often young men raised alongside poppy fields in small farms set up like latticework along the river. They must have been too young and too isolated to understand anything outside of their section of the valley, never mind something global like the 9/11 attacks. These villagers fought us because that’s what they always did when foreigners came to their village. Perhaps they just wanted to be left alone.

The more I thought about the enemy, the harder it was to view them as evil or subhuman. But killing requires a motivation, so the concept of self-defense becomes the defining principle of target attractiveness. If someone is shooting at me, I have a right to fire back. But this is a legal justification, not a moral one. The comic Louis C.K. brilliantly pointed out this absurdity: “Maybe if you pick up a gun and go to another country and you get shot, it’s not that weird. Maybe if you get shot by the dude you were just shooting at, it’s a tiny bit your fault.”

My worst fear before deploying was what, in training, we called “good shoot, bad result.” But there is no way in the chaos and uncertainty of war to make the right decision all the time. On one occasion, the Taliban had been shooting at us and we thought two men approaching in the distance were armed and intended to kill us. We warned them off, but it did no good. They continued to approach, and so my Marines fired. What possible reason could two men have to approach a squad of armed Marines in a firefight? When it was over and the two men lay dead we saw that they were unarmed, just two men trying to go home, who never made it.

On most occasions, when ordnance would destroy the enemy or a sniper would kill a Taliban fighter, we would engage in the professional congratulations of a job well done like businessmen after a successful client meeting. Nothing of the sort happened after killing a civilian. And in this absence of group absolution, I saw for the first time how critical it actually was for my soul and my sanity..

Nobody ever talked about the accidental killing. There was paperwork, a brief investigation and silence. You can’t tell someone who has killed an innocent person that he did the right thing even if he followed all the proper procedures before shooting.

When I returned home this group absolution was supposed to take the form of a welcoming society, unlike the one Vietnam veterans returned to. But the only affirmation of my actions came through the ubiquitous “Thank you for your service.” Beyond that, nobody wanted to, or wants to, talk about what occurred overseas.

The first Marine to be grievously injured on our deployment was shot in the neck during a firefight exactly nine years and nine days after the Sept. 11 attacks. He was a 19-year-old from Mississippi on his first tour after enlisting straight out of high school. Under enemy fire, the Navy corpsman and Marines in his squad gave him medical care as the evacuation helicopter raced to get him to the field hospital in the critical “golden hour.”

When he was transported onto the helicopter 40 minutes later, the squad reported that he seemed in good spirits. He would make it to the hospital, receive emergency surgery and then be transported through Germany back to America for a long recovery at Bethesda. Except that didn’t happen. Ten minutes later the call came through the radio that he had died.

Until that moment, our deployment in Afghanistan had been exhilarating because we felt invulnerable. This invulnerability in an environment of death was the most powerful sensation I’d ever experienced. I felt favored and possessed with the power to do anything. Instantly, those feelings were replaced by uncertainty and impotency. The initial report that we lost our first Marine stunned everyone who heard it, but soon after came another call about men planting a bomb on a nearby road.

Seeing the enemy so quickly after our Marine was killed was the perfect opportunity for revenge. I watched the missile strike the men’s car on the gritty gray-and-white footage of a surveillance drone’s camera and then watched one of them run away on fire and collapse. This was accompanied by the exultation of everyone around me. High-fives. Cheers. Fist pumps. If we couldn’t bring our Marine back to life, at least we could take a life. The power returned to us a little bit. It was an illogical equation but in the moment it rang true.

I could look you in the eye and tell you I’m sure that the two men we killed right after our Marine died were planting a bomb. I remember watching the drone surveillance video as they dug and appeared to drop an explosive device by the side of the road. At the same time, doubt creeps in. The emotions surrounding loss and revenge can distort reality. Maybe it’s too convenient to believe that after losing our first Marine we just happened to find a couple of members of the Taliban planting a bomb. The fog of war doesn’t just limit what you can know; it creates doubt about everything you’re certain that you know.

The madness of war is that while this system is in place to kill people, it may actually be necessary for the greater good. We live in a dangerous world where killing and torture exist and where the persecution of the weak by the powerful is closer to the norm than the civil society where we get our Starbucks. Ensuring our own safety and the defense of a peaceful world may require training boys and girls to kill, creating technology that allows us to destroy anyone on the planet instantly, dehumanizing large segments of the global population and then claiming there is a moral sanctity in killing. To fathom this system and accept its use for the greater good is to understand that we still live in a state of nature.

If this era of war ever ends, and we emerge from the slumber of automated killing to the daylight of moral questioning, we will face a reckoning. If we are honest with ourselves, the answers won’t be simple. I don’t blame Presidents George W. Bush or Barack Obama for these wars. Our elected leaders, after all, are just following orders, no different from the Marine who asks if he can kill a man digging by the side of the road.

Timothy Kudo is a Marine captain and graduate student at New York University who was deployed to Iraq in 2009 and to Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011.

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

Boat 1

​It was a bright, warm, late June morning. Platte Valley Trout Unlimited and Project Healing Waters were collectivelyhosting their annual Wounded Warrior Event float trip. The two groups embarked on different sections of the river that Thursday. One group of veterans and their guides launched at Bennett Peak while a second group consisting of veterans from the Cheyenne VA Hospital departed from Treasure Island.

The beauty of the river, the challenge and fun trying to land a big trout, and observing the many creatures such as mink, deer, antelope and eagles made the morning special. Roughly an hour and a half into the float from Treasure Islandtragedy struck. A raft with two couples, who were floating on their own, hit a log jam broadside on a hazardous island point in the middle of the river.  As their big raft flipped in the treacherous water, all four individuals went into the swift, cold water…only three were thrown clear of the massive log jam.The fourth rafter did not survive the river’s current even though great effort was made to rescue him from the tremendous force of the water.

Boat 3

Yet, throughout this tragedy there were many angels on the river. Angels that surrounded the rescuers, angels that surrounded the survivors to let them know they were not alone, angels that shuttled the traumatized rafters across the river to waiting medical personnel, angels that kept every veteran and their guides safe. Angels in the form of Army National Guard that found the body downstream and encompassed him in their arms letting the person’s spirit know that he was surrounded with love, respect, and comfort.

Yes, there were numerous angels on the river that morning. Angels, that in spite of the tragedy and sadness, provided many blessings. For you see, in the darkness there was still light, in moments of massive despair, hope arose, and in feelings of being alone there were wings surrounding all who needed strength and comfort.

 

WWE

 

AGENT ORANGE: “QUILT OF TEARS”

Filed Under Agent Orange, Combat PTSD, Healing, Tears of a Warrior, Trauma, Veterans | Comments Off on AGENT ORANGE: “QUILT OF TEARS”

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

032

 

It was during our work in Hot Springs, SD with the American Legion and the “Honoring Our Heroes” event that we were able to view for the first time the “Quilt of Tears”.  This is an unbelievable sea of orange fabrics with hundreds of patches depicting the stories of those Vietnam veterans and families who have suffered with the effects of Agent Orange.

Much of what is in this blog will be taken from a pamphlet I picked up at the quilt display. The quilt is being cared for, assembled, and driven across the United States by Shelia and Henry Snyder (amrdangel@aol.com).

Many veterans and their family members still do not know much about the effects of exposure to Agent Orange. An accurate number of casualties is “almost impossible to record due to various reasons, but the estimated number has been at 250,000 for quite a few years”, and the number grows every day. Even today, few Americans know that Agent Orange was a powerful herbicide used during the Vietnam War to deforest the jungle in order to set up base camps for our troops. Understanding the effects of Agent Orange on an individual is frightening. These powerful chemicals could literally take down a thick canopy of trees in a short few days. Think about, if it could destroy these huge trees in a matter of days —  imagine what these chemicals could do to the fragile human body.

Exposure to Agent Orange can be fatal. Some of the diseases which are currently thought to be a result of these herbicides are Chloracne, Hodgkin’s Disease, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Peripheral Neuropath, Porphyria cutanea tarda, Prostate Cancer, Respiratory Cancers, Soft-Tissue Sarcoma, Type II Diabetes, and illnesses and birth defects for the veteran’s children.

 

It is essential that veterans who have been exposed to Agent Orange get regular physicals complete with CAT Scans to detect the chemicals related to cancers. As with all diseases, early detection is critical to positive long-term outcomes.

The “Quilt of Tears” is a non-profit organization and relies solely on private donations. To learn more go to the website: www.agentorangequiltoftears.com. Individuals can get information on how they can create his or her own personal patch for the quilt at this site.

Fear not my great soldier…for your story shall be passed down through the years because the fabric of your life is sewn into the Quilt of Tears.”

030

DREAM WITH ME

Filed Under Dream, Events, Healing, Hope, Life, PTSD, Tears, Tears of a Warrior, Trauma | Comments Off on DREAM WITH ME

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

          It has been a very difficult past few months for many individuals and communities inAmerica. Between Hurricane Sandy destroying property and lives in the northeastern part of our country, to the incomprehensible tragedy in Connecticut. Too often we try to put words to these events, hoping to impart some small bit of insight, but they seem too shallow and futile.

At times, when the heart has felt so much suffering and inhumanity, the soul becomes a vacuum of despair. The challenge remains one of deep spiritual courage. The courage to believe in goodness instead of evil. The courage to awake each morning and keep going, knowing the struggle ahead still exits.  And the courage to forgive, to hope, and to still love. Sometimes the best way to convey these staggering emotions is through music. For this reason I thought a song by the young singer, Jackie Evancho, may convey a message of hope for a New Year – far better than simply words.

In my imagination I see a right world
where everybody lives in peace and honesty
I dream of souls always free
like clouds which fly
full of humanity deep inside

In my imagination I see a clear world
the night is less dark over there
I dream of souls always free
like clouds which fly full of humanity

In the imagination there is a hot wind
which blows on cities, as a friend
I dream of souls always free
like clouds which fly
full of humanity deep inside

www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQF-l9NBtX8

In this coming New Year, may the words from Nella Fantasia come true.

So, Dream With Me.

STRENGTH OF SPOUSES

Filed Under Combat PTSD, Healing, Spouse, Stress, TBI & PTSD, Tears of a Warrior, Trauma, War | Comments Off on STRENGTH OF SPOUSES

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

In the past few years, I’ve written countless blogs on the strength and endurance of our veterans. However, the other side of that coin is the strength and endurance of their spouses. Several days ago we received an e-mail from a spouse who had heard about us and our book through an article that appeared as a Wyoming magazine article. She wrote about the challenges of married life with her veteran husband. A situation that became even more desperate after he suffered a traumatic brain injury (not from combat) that she wrote, “took him totally out of commission”. The e-mail went on to describe how other people did not see the depth of his many wounds, but she was faced with them daily enduring aggressive behaviors and foul language.

The injury occurred in 1998, but it was not until 2001 that the situation became too difficult to bear. I was his sole caregiver & therapist.  When things got bad, I was the human standing in front of him as his anger came out. 

… There were many days of not sleeping and warding off his craziness.  In the first two years after his head injury, we almost lost the house twice.  We literally lived in a wooden tent – the house was emptied out of furniture and appliances as the sheriff’s department kept impounding our possessions because we couldn’t pay our bills – possessions which ended up on the court house steps selling for $1.  My daughter and I sought safe shelter six times in those two years to get away from him and his outbursts – the first time was on her 10th birthday.

            One may think, wow, this sounds pretty darn extreme, yet, due to the lack of available resources in her area, obtaining services was nearly impossible. Her state of affairs is not unlike many of our returning military people and their families. Many spouses are drained of energy trying to keep their loved one out of jails and mental health institutions. What makes her story even more thought-provoking is her educational credentials, during all the turmoil she went back to school and obtained a Master’s degree in mental health. Yet, she has had to fight her own demons brought on by the many years of being exposed to an unpredictable and toxic home environment.

            With her educational background she states, I have dissected trauma and I understand the roots of it more than most people.

            And perhaps, her most profound statement,

Unfortunately, the war doesn’t stop when they come home.  They never leave the ambush; it can haunt them for the rest of their lives.  They are eventually removed from the war situation and are not confronted with that type of environment every day (other than their memories).  Their spouses and children aren’t so lucky.  They too have to live with the aftermath of war.

            Thank you, Carol, for your introspective thoughts, your daily courage, and your persistence to keep going even when it would be easier to give up. You are certainly one of our country’s many amazing military spouse.

A TIME TO REFLECT

Filed Under Tears of a Warrior, Today's War, Trauma, War | Comments Off on A TIME TO REFLECT

by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D

It has been some time now since we heard the disturbing news of the young sergeant who massacred civilians inAfghanistan. According to the media, the individual has been indicted with killing seventeen people, nine of whom were children.

            During this time I debated whether or not to broach the subject in our blog. Truthfully, I’m still not certain I want to bring this up again given the enormous amount of media attention. Yet, it seems important to at least give some perspective on what others have been sending us through phone calls, e-mails, etc.

            No one would dispute that what occurred was inexcusable. The entire incident is pretty disturbing. However, I continue to wonder who, beside Sergeant Bales is answerable for this horrendous act? Where is the government’s responsibility in choosing to commit our country to two wars yet refusing to enact a draft? Where is the government’s moral accountability in allowing less than 1% of our young men and women and their families to shoulder the enormous burden of continual deployment and redeployment four, five, and six times to various combat zones? Where is the military’s obligation in making sure each troop is in top physical and emotional health before ever being sent back to a war when he/she may not be fully combat ready? And lastly, where is the conscience of each and every American citizen who allows so few to serve in combat and bear the burden of an entire country?

            Please understand, I am not trying to be critical, but it is crucial that every aspect of this terrible situation be carefully examined.  For you see, these are questions we should all be asking if we are going to do better in the future. Because, unfortunately, in our future there will still be wars. What are the lessons to be learned?

            In reality, Sergeant Bales is morally, legally, and physically accountable for this terrible deed. He cannot use the argument of having PTSD as the sole contributor for his actions. Millions of past and present veterans have and are suffering with this condition. Yet few ever commit such violent and unforgivable acts. No, according to what we are being told, these murders were committed by Sergeant Bales for reasons yet to be disclosed. However, each of us must question, who else should bear the consequence of such horrific actions? Are we as a nation pushing some of our troops to the breaking point? War is hell and too much war may be even worse!

Then, as I struggle to come to my own personal conclusion, I am reminded of something I have read many times, “There by the grace of God, go I”.

Next Page →