notices the cost vs the promises of George Bush's war on Iraq and he reminds us there are casualties.
Lots of casualties.
. They may suffer from their lost productivity, they may turn their anger inward, or
. Broken hearts, shattered bodies, scarred psyches.
How much can a bankrupt nation with 37.5 million food insecure and 45 million uninsured citizens absorb?
When David Adams came back from Iraq, the war followed him home. Adams is from Joliet, Illinois. He was a specialist in the 101st Airborne from Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, destined to be in the military.
"My father had served in the Marines. My mother's father served in World War Two in Patton's army. All my uncles and cousins, they've all served," said Adams.
Adams was serving when the US went to war with Iraq in 2003. "We were told this thing about winning the hearts and minds of the people and one of the way we can win the hearts and minds is to give them a bottle of water and throw candy to the kids," said Adams.
Their orders were to keep the convoys moving through every village. Do not stop for any reason. That included one April morning. "Out of the left corner of my eye, I can see a child start to run across the street," remembered Adams.
Adams continued, "She was a little girl, probably about 5 or 6 years old, and as she is running across the street, she's not looking where she's going. She's just a kid and she gets run over by a truck. I would say there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her."
When Adams came home five months later, he enrolled at SIU-Carbondale and tried to plan for the future. Then came the nightmares, anxiety and violent temper. One day he just started screaming at his mother and sister.
"My dad comes out into the driveway and he says,
'What's wrong? What's the matter with you?' And so I put my fists up like I'm going to fight him," recalled Adams. "And I'm yelling at him and told him to go back in the house or I'll kill you in the driveway right now."
A short time later, Adams was diagnosed with PTSD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. "As the name implies, it's a disorder that happens in the wake of violence and a threat to one's life," said Dr. David Klein, a clinical psychologist for the St. Louis Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
Studies show as many as 30 percent of soldiers returning from the Middle East could have PTSD, but less than a quarter of those will seek help.
"A lot of people get hung up on this being a psychiatric diagnosis. What they don't realize is this is the brain's attempt to adopt to an extraordinarily stressful situation, and it's an effort in self protection" said Klein.
Critics of the Bush administration say the government shouldn't wait for veterans to ask for help. They need to be proactive. "The veterans affairs budget, especially for health care every year is discretionary funding, which means it's there initially and the President can say I gave 12 million dollars for this and that" said G. David Curry a professor at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. "But it doesn't stay there. So more and more veterans are being denied more and more healthcare."
Curry is a veteran still living with the psychological scars of Vietnam. He says veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan often wait months just to get a doctor's appointment, and if something doesn't change soon the war will continue to cost America long after it's over.
"It doesn't matter whether you're against the war or in favor of the war, we've got to repay these veterans by treating them well," said Curry.
As for Adams, now 25, he's back in school studying administrative justice. He says he still has nightmares and probably drinks too much. But his best therapy has been talking to other veterans.
Still he worries about all his brothers, as he calls them, who've yet to get help. "When we signed that contract, we swore to God we were going to take care of this country and defend it and America was going to do the same for us," said Adams. "And I feel like a lot of us are being left behind."
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:
http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/general/fs_what_is_ptsd.html- from U.S Dept. of Veteran's Affairs
http://www.nmha.org/reassurance/ptsd.cfm- from the National Mental Health Association