By Nathan Barton
I just read something written by a person who is deeply fearful that “bringing home the troops” from Afghanistan and nearby countries will flood America’s cities and towns with tens of thousands of ex-soldiers, unemployed and badly damaged physically, mentally, and morally by what they have been through in more than a decade of war. She is concerned that unless they are “decompressed” from their evil years “fighting for freedom” overseas, that they will return to America to rape their wives and children, blow up substations and banks and bulldoze down city blocks while shooting up whole neighborhoods. It is not that she is some liberal: indeed, she is a very conservative, great-grandmother, long retired, but she has bought into a very big lie. She doesn’t realize just how big a lie that is being sold to her and millions.
Civilians always seem to assume that the troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere have been there for the entire duration, and that “bringing them home” means that a huge number of troops will suddenly come back all at once. Neither is true: troops have been rotated constantly (and frankly, too much) between stateside, other locations worldwide, and the combat zones. The “decompression” you talk about has been standard for the last 14-15 years we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan and Mesopotamia (and elsewhere). Not always successful, but being done. People spend 12-18 months in the combat zones and then come home (usually) or are sent to someplace “safe” (like Korea or Germany or Italy or Okinawa). As they return, it is normally by unit: a battalion (about 500-1000 people) or even a company (80-150 people) at a time. Each individual from the battalion commander (a Lt. Colonel) down to the privates is individually evaluated for physical health as well as mental health and morale and family problems and religious condition and about everything else. There are counselors and they work with chaplains and non-military church leaders and community people and even some private businesses to help people “decompress” and adjust back to home conditions.
The problem is, the process isn’t always successful, and all too often, when people’s enlistments are up and they move into the VA realm and out into the private and public sector, they don’t follow up and no one follows up on them. Especially when their home is a long ways from a military installation. The VA’s competence is (as always) very marginal. Too many people get hired to do jobs that DO capitalize on their skills and experience, but put them into situations where the decompression is reversed: for example, as policemen. And too many times, the families (not immediate family as far as wife and kids, but extended family) don’t really know what was done.
This idea that a withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a massive demobilization like troops returning from Europe and the Pacific in 1945-46 (or from France in 1919) is not true. It is made up, in part to scare people here in the States into thinking that veterans are a threat – en masse as well as individually, and that they must be kept under close watch, have their liberties restricted, and are ticking time bombs waiting to go off. There ARE always a few folks that can’t handle it, but they are in the very VERY tiny minority: 1/00th of 1 percent, maybe. And those are usually the ones easily identified in the return and separation from service process, and which get the bulk of the attention from the VA and other organizations. But 99% of the combat veterans of Afghanistan and Mesopotamia ARE already back, and at least 80% of them ARE already returned to civilian life – and have been for years.
They are not a threat to their families, their neighbors, or their communities. What they ARE is a threat to the politicians in DC and the elites that think that they are the rightful leaders/rulers of this nation. Because they have gotten the short end and have been on the sharp end of the stick and seen what a stinking mess the people in DC (and, admit it, the state capitols) have made for the last fifteen years. And because they are not buying the “be quiet, be good, don’t rock the boat” lines. And when I speak of politicians in DC, I include people like Tim Johnson (or at least, his handlers) and John Thune and Kristi Noem and Stephanie Herseth and the new crop trying to get elected (somehow I got on Rick Weiland’s email list, and his rants make me ill).
Each will respond differently: some WILL go off the deep end: join (or rejoin) street gangs or biker gangs or be recruited into drug cartels, others will become cops and get as dirty as their peers, some will become (or continue to be) alcoholics or drug users, some will become politicians (and go as bad as a John McCain or Bob Dole), some will become preachers and teachers. But if ANY of us get pushed too far (and that is getting nearer and nearer), some will lash back at government – whether it is a city dogcatcher or yard inspector or a USDA or USFS employee, or a DEA or FBI or NSA type – in defense of themselves, their families, and their communities. And it will be very ugly.
Every day I read another story or two about cops beating up or killing someone for no reason – or someone’s pet or service dog, for no reason. Every day I read about someone else arrested for some petty offense where they were the wrong person, or just in the wrong place or doing the “wrong thing” as defined by the cop or some Mrs. Grundy. Every day I read another story about some student in a public school who is suspended or expelled or humiliated for some very stupid “zero tolerance” rule. Every day I read about someone viciously attacked because they preach or do something that makes them a “homophobe” or “racist.” Every one of those incidents is a potential spark point, for a veteran (whether Afghan, Iraq, Vietnam, Panama or someplace else) or just a “normal” conservative person to say, “It’s a good day to die,” and decide that they aren’t going to take it anymore. That is IS better to “live free or die.”
There are lots of specific examples of how government at all levels is pushing and getting more and more extreme and out of control. The woman shot to death on the steps of the Capitol in DC, her little girl in the car with her. The “lockdown” of the White House and blocks of public streets around it for hours because someone tried to climb the fence. Traffic backed up on an interstate highway in NM or AZ for 10-15 miles SOUTHBOUND because the Border Patrol is searching cars – 150 miles NORTH of the border.
A cop shooting a service dog to death in the middle of a child’s birthday party because someone in the neighborhood complained about unleashed dogs roaming the area. The state of Connecticut worried because the deadline for their new “assault weapon” registration was six weeks ago and only 50,000 of the 350,000 weapons they think are in the state have been registered: so there are the owners of 300,000 weapons who are willing to commit a FELONY by refusing to play.
A major community-invested company driven to bankruptcy by the state government, destroying $10 million dollars in investment, because there was too much sawdust coming out of their stack – in the middle of nowhere. Another $10 million in investment missing when a company goes bankrupt under strange circumstances and then the manager “commits suicide” despite his ties to federal and state officials. Germany trying to figure out what happened to the gold being “kept safe” for them in vaults in NYC. Homeschoolers being deported TO Germany so that the government can take their children away from them. People subjected to hours of anal probing to “find drugs” -without a warrant – and then BILLED by the hospital for the “procedure.” People with a warrant to investigate suspected credit card fraud of under $1000 where the warrant is served by a SWAT team in a no-knock raid because one of the people in the house had a concealed-carry permit. The list can go on and on.
It is things like THESE that are more likely to cause a veteran to go ballistic than what they faced in the war zones. Not that there won’t be some who DO go off the deep end, but really, not that much more than the civilians who never did any of that.
Psalm 13: 1-2
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Habakkuk 1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?