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May 05, 2008

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McCain is right on that Veteran's care, including the conditions you speak of, Hilzoy, should receive spending priority.

Raise my taxes, John.

Then raise em again.

Let's pay for it.

Everyone gets to share the pain.

Then maybe we stop looking for unnecessary pain.

Clinical depression is no fun. I can't imagine the traumatic stress of war to go along with it.

I never suspected that George W. Bush was a secret pacifist, the evidence supporting such a conclusion is becoming clearer and clearer.

Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him.

I'm reminded of a story (told second hand) of someone who wanted to be a cop, but couldn't stand the hazing during training. What was he hazed for? Too smart. But at least he wasn't elitist.

I find the potential long-term consequences of ignoring this kind of thing pretty scary. The military has done a great job of improving battlefield care, and there's no reason fairly similar rapid assessment and treatment protocols shouldn't help the mental health emergencies as well. If we don't do that - it makes me shudder.

Also, have you seen this article envisioning a future in which the GI Bill's promise is meaningless? Also enough to make a person concerned about how seriously we take our military.

North: no, I hadn't. The things I missed while I was in Pakistan...

I would surely have blogged this:

"Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seemed to give a thumbs down to bipartisan legislation that would greatly expand educational benefits for members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan under the GI Bill.
McCain indicated he would offer some sort of alternative to the legislation to address concerns that expanding the GI Bill could lead more members of the military to get out of the service.

Both Democratic presidential candidates - Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., - have signed on as co-sponsors, and the bill has gained bipartisan support from 54 senators on Capitol Hill in addition to Webb. (...)

Officials in charge of Pentagon personnel worry that a more generous and expansive GI Bill would create an incentive for troops to get out of the military and go to college."

So now we want to solve our retention problems by depriving people in the military of opportunities? Jesus.

They're making incremental but significant moves to improve the treatment rate; one recently announced by Gates, in a speech two or three days ago aimed at getting service members to seek help for PTSD, is to remove the question about past mental health treatment in the security clearance screening questionnaire.

But not enough people are talking seriously about the way to stop creating more cases of PTSD, i.e. stop sending people into the hell of Iraq (much less sending them back into it). Because if they did that they'd have to end the fvcking occupation.

Already we're at that breaking point that has been predicted for so long: I read yesterday they're now going to "embed" private contractors with military units.

This is how I heard about the Gates PTSD speech; more coverage here and here.

Even though some of his votes have made me grind my teeth, I do love Jim Webb's bluntness. He's worked his ass off to get broad, bipartisan support for the new GI bill, and particularly McCain's support, which would guarantee passage. But now McCain's jumping in with his own worthless alternative to try to peel Republicans back off of Webb's bill:

His bill offers the same benefits whether you stay three years or longer. We want to have a sliding scale to increase retention. I haven’t been in Washington, but my staff there said that his has not been eager to negotiate.”

“He’s so full of it,” Webb said in response. “I have personally talked to John three times. I made a personal call to [McCain aide] Mark Salter months ago asking that they look at this.”

Too many links in here already; that's from a Politico article linked at Digby's.

As the wife of an ex-military man, I can say that ANY reason for going to a clinic is frowned upon, unless you have some kind of combat/training/macho related injury. It's looked on as weak, as though you're trying to get out of work. Which explains why my husband ended up doing a 9 mile road march on an ankle that had been severely sprained and wasn't anywhere near fully healed.

Any psychological issues are a thousand times worse. And no, if I remember correctly, you can't go to an outside clinic without a referral.

It was disturbing to me that he didn't get any real treatment for the bulging disks in his back until he got out - or even acknowledgment that the problem existed. It was written up as arthritis (he was 25 with no history of problems), and he was given supplements and made to carry rucksacks on marches as normal - until his back completely locked up one day in a long formation. It wasn't until over a year later, when he left the military, that anyone thought to do an x-ray.

The army life is hard on the body, and can be hard on the mind. The problems that my husband left service with (and that can be attributed to that service) are fairly numerous. But they are by far the mildest of the spectrum. It was sad that they didn't pay attention to these things when he was in. For other people, the situation is downright tragic.

Problems with physical and mental health are common, and that is a fact that is perfectly well known all the way up the chain. It's reprehensible that we ask our military members to sacrifice their well-being, then deny them (both directly and indirectly) the help they need.

The really strange part was that the family health services were usually good in all the clinics that I've been to. I was, for the most part, quite satisfied with the care I received for myself and my children. It was also easy to get a referral, or the option was available to chose a non-military primary caregiver (though that may cost you a bit out of pocket). But the soldiers had separate clinics on some posts. Their facilities were far more run down. Why can't they be combined? And why can't they chose another caregiver?

Given that we appear fundamentally unable to meet our most basic responsibilities to our veterans, perhaps we should disband our military, or at least refrain from deploying it. I mean, if drunk people shouldn't be permitted to drive, I'm don't see why societies that are unwilling to see to the needs of their veterans should be allowed to make more veterans.

Also, it seems that some of our soldiers are...not good. I mean, hazing a fellow soldier for PTSD? Beyond the sheer stupidity and lack of professionalism, the senseless cruelty is shocking.

The only way this process will improve is if senior NCOs and officers take it upon themselves to be on the lookout for these mental health issues for their people and in some cases forcibly order them to go seek counseling. The entire military culture has to change, and it's not as easy as flipping on a light switch. And more litigation from Washington or the Pentagon probably isn't going to help matters much either...and it'll just result in servicemembers having to fill out more worthless forms (I've already had to take two stupid "health" surveys this deployment on deployment stress, and the end result was that it increased my deployment stress by having to fill out the damn things!). Mental health problems are difficult to deal with, but the only solution will come from the military leaders themselves. We do appreciate concern from civilians about these issues. As you can imagine, it's a serious problem.

Turbulence said Also, it seems that some of our soldiers are...not good. I mean, hazing a fellow soldier for PTSD? Beyond the sheer stupidity and lack of professionalism, the senseless cruelty is shocking.

It's comments like this that make me shy away from discussion of vets health issues in crazy ole' blogland. Fair enough if you want to criticize the military or whatever, it's a free country. But I wish the left would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of "faux-compassion" for vets with mental health issuess as a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration or dredging up the crazed vet meme.

I wish the left would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of "faux-compassion" for vets with mental health issues as a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration or dredging up the crazed vet meme.

Notice how you are delegitimizing attempts by soldiers and vets to seek mental health care in thinly-veiled attempt at badmouthing the left, while simultaneously accusing the left of being anti-veteran.

It will probably take a few PTSD affected soldiers to form a group and going on a killing spree* to get proper public attention to this matter. [not to be construed as as a desire for this to happen]

*in the US (and in front of the cameras), so it could not be ignored by the media so easily.

delegitimizing attempts by soldiers and vets to seek mental health care in thinly-veiled attempt at badmouthing the left

huh? Now I'm confused. I wrote a comment about how senior military NCOs and officers should encourage and sometimes even order (if necessary) their people to go seek mental health.

The problem is that you took a specific comment by a specific commentator and generalized it to the left as a whole. That, given what this commentariat has experienced in the past year or so, leaves a particularly bad taste in the mouth. It seems that you and Turb agree on the general thrust of command responsibility, so why don't you just leave it there?

The change to question 21 mentioned by Nell is pretty important.

In the last 7 years, have you consulted with a health care professional regarding an emotional or mental health condition or were you hospitalized for such a condition?
Answer “No” if the counseling was for any of the following reasons and was not court-ordered:
• strictly marital, family, grief not related to violence by you; or
• strictly related to adjustments from service in a military combat environment.

A lot of MOS’s require a security clearance. (Probably way too many actually – as an example, I had to have a SECRET clearance to work with certain comm gear in the early 80s. It was a little bit silly though, as the gear had first been fielded during the Vietnam war.) Beyond that, if you want to parlay your military experience into a job in the defense industry when you get out you will almost certainly need a clearance. So that change is a step in the right direction and I’ll give some credit where it is due.


Turb: I mean, hazing a fellow soldier for PTSD? Beyond the sheer stupidity and lack of professionalism, the senseless cruelty is shocking.

This is certainly not something that is unique to the military. You’ll find it integral to any organization that demands a high level of team cohesion: police/fire academy, high school football team, etc. It has its place. As LT Nixon notes, the key is that the leaders who work most closely with the troops probably need some training to recognize signs of a potential problem and encouragement to take action. Once upon a time the military deployed individuals. Everyone was a cog and it was easy to replace a single cog. Now they deploy units. I think that is a change for the better in many ways, but it also creates some new problems. To be deployable a unit has to meet certain criteria, and headcount is certainly one of them. These same leaders who need to be on the lookout for potential problems like this have to balance that with other factors. And mental health issues are certainly a lot trickier for the average Lt. to spot than obvious physical problems.


Hartmut: It will probably take a few PTSD affected soldiers to form a group and going on a killing spree* to get proper public attention to this matter.

I’m taking this primarily as snark, but in the event you’re serious, I’ll join LT Nixon in objecting to the “crazed vet meme”. A common thing you’ll notice in almost all of these cases is that they never hurt anyone else. Just themselves.

faux-compassion

How dare you.

You’ll find [hazing] integral to any organization that demands a high level of team cohesion: police/fire academy, high school football team, etc. It has its place.

On this I call bullsh!t. Hazing is nothing but "I had to go through this, so you have to too." I don't think fraternities require "a high level of team cohesion." Really, it's a bunch of sh!t, and more about power over others than any kind of team building or something essential to an organization/cohesion (and, in fact, can be destructive).

The problem is that you took a specific comment by a specific commentator and generalized it to the left as a whole.

Liberal Japonicus, I've lived in liberal cities most of my life (when not deployed), and I didn't generalize "the left" without making observations. There seems to be a general distrust and lack of understanding of military personnel among lefties, not all, but it is prevalent. Most people just don't whether to feel sorry for you or scorn you. It's a cultural problem that is worth trying to reconcile on the blogosphere. Maybe society will be better for it, but who knows. There's no point denying where things are at in modern America.

Ugh: Well let’s separate hazing from the rest. If we’re specifically talking about “rites of passage” type crap I agree with you. There is some of that, but I don’t think it’s what we’re really discussing here.

What we’re really talking about is simple peer pressure to perform. To push through pain and minor injuries, not to let the team down, etc. This isn’t really hazing. And this is an important part of building a cohesive team. Many folks have to learn that they can usually give just a little more effort, or run just a little bit further than they thought they could, etc. You don’t leave the team a man short unless you’re down hard. That’s not normal human behavior. It’s not just important to the team - it may well save the individual’s life some day.

But it tends to be overdone even when we’re talking about obvious physical injuries, much less mental health issues. It’s up to the leadership to draw the line. I think that the line is a lot harder to spot when we’re talking mental health.

LT Nixon wrote: I wish the left would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of "faux-compassion" for vets with mental health issuess

It's utterly amazing that you bring up this point in response to Turbulence's mild criticism of soldiers for hazing a vet with PTSD. Let me get this straight, Nixon -- do you condone the hazing of mentally ill soldiers? If not, I don't see how you could disagree with Turbulence's description of it as "sheer stupidity," "lack of professionalism," and shocking, "senseless cruelty."

as a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration

What I have a problem with is the Bush Administration -- rotten to the core -- and its defenders hiding behind the honor and sacrifice of our troops to deflect legitimate criticisms of their terrible policy. Sorry if criticizing this stinking policy makes you uncomfortable, Nixon, but the fact remains that the Bush Administration's policies are disasters on multiple fronts, and present very real, if not widely publicized, costs for this nation and those who actually sacrifice for it.

Furthermore, I invite you to cite the posts in this discussion that you consider "a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration," along with your justifications as to why the Bush Administration doesn't deserve the criticism.

or dredging up the crazed vet meme.

"Dredging up the crazed vet met"?! Are you kidding me? In case you hadn't bleeding noticed, the multiple articles cited here indicate that mental trauma is a very real problem among our soldiers deployed, re-deployed and re-re-deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

But now that you mention it, yes, just as our collective failure to provide adequate care for vets after Vietnam resulted in ongoing social problems, including substance abuse and homelessness, this lunatic, unconscionably cruel policy will indeed have long-term repercussions long after the Bush Administration begins its cushy retirement.

From your postings before, you clearly have prejudices a mile deep about your vision of the "Left" and their opinions of the military, which -- not coincidentally, I'm sure -- align nicely with the Republican Party's decades-long branding effort as "strong on defense." Yet the policies of this Republican Administration with regard to the readiness and well-being of our armed forces are simply unconscionable, not to mention recklessly damaging to our defense posture. If chalking well-deserved up to "faux compassion" or "a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration" helps you with the cognitive dissonance of supporting these criminal clowns, so be it, but don't expect your opinion to gain a lot of respect.

To sum up, LT Nixon, I see reflexive, knee-jerk, prejudiced opinion being expressed here, but not by the critics of the Bush Administration.

OCSteve - that makes much more sense, and I can see how policing the line between proper peer pressure to perform and unecessary and counter-productive hazing can be hard.

About LTNixon's comment: "But I wish the left would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of "faux-compassion" for vets with mental health issuess as a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration or dredging up the crazed vet meme."

First, to everyone else: the perception that the left doesn't care about the troops, and that any compassion we might pretend to feel is faux, is widespread enough that it's probably worth trying to deal with without anger.

LTNixon: The generalization from Turb to "the left" is one which you might have evidence for, but which can still rankle, the way it might bother you if someone took some soldier's comments and generalized to "the military" as a whole. You'd probably think: hey, we are individuals, and have different opinions; don't just say stuff about "the military" as though we were one homogenous mass.

But what seemed odder to me, about your comment, was taking it to be an anti-military slur on Turb's part. S/he did, after all, say some soldiers. And then s/he went on to say which s/he meant: the ones who "hazed a fellow soldier for PTSD". And also why s/he thought they were not good: sheer stupidity, lack of professionalism, senseless cruelty.

This is not a blanket accusation against the military. It's a very specific claim about a very specific type of conduct, one which Turb clearly did not say was universal.

Moreover, it's hard to see how this could possibly count as "dredging up the crazed vet meme": the whole point was to say that rather than hazing soldiers with PTSD, we should see that they get help. (Unless the very idea that any soldiers ever get PTSD counts as dredging up the crazed vet meme, in which case it's hard to see how we're going to be able to discuss mental health services for the military at all.)

I'm sure there's reflexive antimilitary sentiment out there. But I don't think Turbulence was expressing it. I also think there's probably enough of it that it's worth pointing out when I think that things that might strike you that way actually aren't anti-military sentiment at all. I imagine life over there must be tough enough without thinking that people aren't behind you. When it's true that they aren't, well then, it is; but when it's not, I think it's worth saying so.

OCSteve wrote: If we’re specifically talking about “rites of passage” type crap I agree with you. There is some of that, but I don’t think it’s what we’re really discussing here.

Once again, from the cited article:

Five months before, Jennings had gone to the medical center at Ft. Carson, where a staff member typed up his symptoms: "Crying spells... hopelessness... helplessness... worthlessness." Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him. He decided to attempt suicide when they said that they would eject him from the Army."

A gung-ho spirit and exhorting your teammates to give the extra effort is one thing. But it seems pretty clear that, your optimistic spin notwithstanding, that isn't what's going on here.

And again, that goes directly to the policies of this allegedly-strong-on-defense Republican Administration. Bush has broken the Army so badly that they need to deploy soldiers who are probably -- through no fault of their own -- physically and mentally unfit for duty. I'm shocked, of course, that LT Nixon and OCSteve are badmouthing the Army by pointing out the obvious failures in leadership, but given that we seem to be having a problem retaining captain and majors -- again as a result of this bloody war and this Administration's policies -- it isn't surprising.

I think you're a bit to quick to write off what's going on here as mere team spirit, Steve.

It's a cultural problem that is worth trying to reconcile on the blogosphere. Maybe society will be better for it, but who knows. There's no point denying where things are at in modern America.

That argument cuts both ways, Nixon. The Republican Party has been branding itself as "strong on defense" since at least the Vietnam War, broadcasts Rush Limbaugh over Armed Forces Radio (let me guess -- it's "just entertainment," right?) and, in some cases, has allowed or encouraged some branches of the military to develop a culture in which one must profess to be an evangelical Christian in order to receive good evaluations. If you're sincere about "reconciling" this cultural problem, you might consider addressing your own obvious prejudices first, hm?

I imagine life over there must be tough enough without thinking that people aren't behind you. When it's true that they aren't, well then, it is; but when it's not, I think it's worth saying so.

I would submit that the people who aren't behind the military are the ones:

* Like McCain, who would torpedo an updated GI Bill on the stated grounds that having better opportunities would hurt retention

* Who engage in unnecessary wars of aggression and incompetent occupation, resulting in deploying the same stressed soldiers over and over, and without once calling for volunteers to bolster the ranks, let alone paying for the staggering cost of the war with anything but a tax cut

* Who respond to the strain they themselves put on the military by lowering recruiting standards to include those with histories of criminal activity

* Cover for the weakness in the military by employing mercenaries that operate outside military justice and command and control, and frequently take actions that complicate the military's counterinsurgency mission

* Pursue a dangerous policy of aligning the military with their own political party

* And who, again, seek to deflect criticism of their own incompetence by hiding behind the service and honor of the military they've been using for nothing more than a political prop.

I'm sorry if LT Nixon feels condescended to by the Left, but given the facts, I again feel that s/he needs to examine his/her own prejudices before insulting this forum with them.

I don't want to pile on, and Lt Nixon came to this blog, I believe, after Andrew's death. I deleted a much stronger comment, basically along the lines of Charleycarp's, because maybe you just don't know. But hilzoy (who probably has more of a right than anyone else here to express anger over the way you phrase your comment) states the point well, and I'd urge you to rethink what you are seeing here specifically and at other places in general as 'faux-compassion'. This assumes a much more detailed knowledge of us and others that I don't think you gain from simply living in different places. This assumes a separation from between one's expressed and one's actual motivations that requires the kind of knowledge that I don't think listing where one has lived can prove that you have.

Use 'em up, chew 'em up, spit 'em out.

It's the capitalist way.

And the GOP is the capitalist party. We should be appalled, but not surprised.

This is what they're happy to do to all Americans who aren't movers and shakers. It's just more blatant and more extreme when it's done to our combat troops.

Gregory: I think you're a bit to quick to write off what's going on here as mere team spirit, Steve.

I’m hardly writing anything off. This is an important issue to me and I strongly feel it needs to be addressed. Just trying to offer some context.

Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him.

When an NPR reporter with no military background (see bio linked from article) says “sergeants who ran his platoon” it’s an indicator to me that the reporter is not that familiar with the Army. So I don’t accept his usage of the term hazing. I have no doubt that there was pressure on the guy to just “suck it up”. Maybe this seems like quibbling over terms, but there is a difference.

Now – “optimistic spin”? WTF?

Steve, you're free to disregard the report, not accept the term hazing as applied to a soldier with apparently genuine mental problems -- which specific term could well have come from Jennings, not the reporter; it isn't clear in the article -- and chalk it up instead to "pressure on the guy to just “suck it up”," but then you shouldn't wonder if your denials look like optimistic spin.

Hilzoy: the perception that the left doesn't care about the troops, and that any compassion we might pretend to feel is faux, is widespread enough that it's probably worth trying to deal with without anger.

That's a fine bit of tactical advice.

However, I'd also say to everyone who feels anger when faced with this charge: Your anger is quite justifiable; this "perception" is not a conclusion that grows naturally from abundant evidence, but a smear that has been consciously spread by the right for decades.

Recommended reading/viewing: the development of the urban legend/false memory of "hippie chicks spitting on returning Viet Nam vets". Rick Perlstein's histories of the conservative movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Before the Storm and Nixonland. The 2005 documentary on the too-little-known GI anti-Viet Nam war movement, Sir! No, Sir!

In the last half of the 1970s, an enormous amount of effort was put into getting the American people to unlearn some lessons that were briefly learned at painful expense -- lessons about imperial foreign policy and its domestic consequences, including state repression. "Liberal" politicians helped smooth the way by participating in the rewriting of immediate past history: the war was a "noble effort", at worst a well-intentioned "mistake".

The political rise of the right in the 1980s and the growth of right-wing media outlets in the 1990s hardened these smears into received truth, internalized not only by those who were born after the events in question but by too many who lived through them.

Jennings says that when the sergeants who ran his platoon found out he was having a breakdown and taking drugs, they started to haze him.

I was just about to post the same thing as OCSteve in that: that doesn't meet any definition of "hazing" that I know. "Hazing" is a ritual performed at the beginning of one's tenure in a group for purposes of bonding with the group. [Usually performed badly, but that's another matter.] This? This is outright abuse. Or maybe torture.

For myself, I've heard the "anti-military liberals/left" smears so many times they almost don't get a rise out of me. What I found far more disturbing in LT's comment was the implicit garrison mentality expressed here:

Mental health problems are difficult to deal with, but the only solution will come from the military leaders themselves. We do appreciate concern from civilians about these issues.

This assumption of a sealed, impermeable barrier between the "warrior caste" and civilians (i.e., citizens of the republic) is a pernicious effect of the volunteer armed forces. [I was about to say "all-volunteer", but the extent of the abuse of the stop-loss loopholes since the beginning of the Iraq war makes that no longer an accurate term.]

They're seeing. Vets are traditionally damned by the enemy(yes, it can be their own people) when they get home. It's how luciferians get even, then they burn a hole in everyone's pocket.

Anarch: This is outright abuse. Or maybe torture.

I suppose that’s why I’m not connecting with Gregory. I’m not making clear that hazing is nothing. Hazing is a silly, mostly pointless, one time ritual. Jennings was not forced to swallow live goldfish or run the gauntlet in his skivvies.

Peer pressure and command pressure to “suck it up” are powerful forces. They do have a place. While that pressure can be intentionally abused, I doubt that is what’s happening in most cases. What comes to my mind is something more like leadership who has “been there and done that” and didn’t come out of it messed up that way. They would then have a tendency to dismiss complaints of this nature coming from younger soldiers. “I’ve done two more tours than you and I sleep like a baby at night. There’s nothing wrong with you…”

Part of the problem here is that we’re expecting an E-6/E-7 or an O-1/O-2 to make a proper mental health evaluation. They simply don’t get training for that. I’d guess that what is needed here is a thorough individual mental health screening for every returning soldier.

And of course the resources for that, and of course for follow up care. And a pony.

Fair enough, Steve, although I'll point out again that Jennings did have a mental health evaluation, and was abused despite, if not because of, it.

Peer pressure and command pressure to suck it up are all well and good, but we've known since World War freakin' One that there's only so much stress a human being can take, and that at some point even the best soldiers will break, and no amount of exhortations to "suck it up" will work.

I hear you, Nell. It's nonetheless a calumny -- compassion is one of the defining characteristics of liberalism, after all -- and I think probably a rules violation as well. I've no doubt that Mr. Nixon has met insincere liberals, libertine conservatives, big government libertarians, and all the other combinations in human existence. If he wants to engage in tribalism, however, he can and should expect to be called out for it. And certainly one who insults Hilzoy -- and I think that's an unmistakeable import of the comment, in context -- doubly so.

we've known since World War freakin' One...

There is no such "we." Some people knew/know that, some people do/don't. Some people knew and forgot, some institutions ditto. Some people never believed it in the first place.

If "we" (the grand nebulous collective humanity) never forgot lessons learned, there wouldn't be much to discuss at this point.

Oh, absolutely Hilzoy and others were right to call out the tribalism and rules violations.

If anything, my comments were meant to qualify H's admonition about anger: I don't want anybody feeling ashamed of a righteous, justified emotional response to a calculated smear. But, like Hilzoy, I also believe the most effective response in comments and other public discussion isn't pure anger.

Hmm, I thought LTN was insulting Turb, not me.

Yeah, but that's because you know your compassion is real, and you were applying it here.

Seems like I touched a lot of raw nerves here. Sorry. I didn't think my comments were that disparaging or anything. There seems to be a lot of claims that I'm some neocon. Nothing could be further from the truth...I'm just not a leftist. My assertions about the left perhaps aren't put in proper context, since I see a lot of other problems with other portions of the political spectrum and their handling of veteran issues and use of the military.

Let me approach you directly, then, LTN, and without anger or rancor: given the importance of compassion as a fundamental value in liberalism, the term 'faux compassion' applied to a liberal is roughly equivalent to saying that a member of the military displays 'faux patriotism.' Maybe 'faux courage' as applied to guys doing point of the spear stuff.

No one would say that there are no persons to whom such a description might be appropriate. It's a big military. No one should expect a pass for calling such things widespread, though, and it wouldn't matter how many people one might say one had met, or where one might say one grew up.

Shorter: it's that raw a nerve. I'm going to take your profession of ignorance on this score at face value.

Nell said "This assumption of a sealed, impermeable barrier between the "warrior caste" and civilians (i.e., citizens of the republic) is a pernicious effect of the volunteer armed forces."

Well why do you think some of us took up blogging as a spare time to inject ourselves into the political debate and discussion. The difference in mentality between people in the military right now and those that haven't been is incredibly dangerous, and needs to be bridged. We have no greater fear than being treated like our Vietnam predecessors did.

Hilzoy said I imagine life over there must be tough enough without thinking that people aren't behind you. When it's true that they aren't, well then, it is; but when it's not, I think it's worth saying so.

My life is okay and I have no regrets. Thank you for your concern though, as many have it a lot rougher than I do. But really, I am very fortunate to have served America in this time of war. It may sound cliche, but I couldn't imagine being a part of that dying world back in America. People indulging in hedonism and wondering what their government and employer can provide them with as they pursue the apathetic life. Honestly, I never thought I'd be able to really be part of America again, and I'd just move to some remote location somewhere. But I got interested in blogs to see what was going on in the American psyche. I apologize for coming off as so...critical in ealier comments.

Charleycarp says "member of the military displays 'faux patriotism.'"

You can call me whatever you want. I don't believe in politically correctness. I just tend to look at things with tremendous cynicism in politics, trying to evaluate motivation and angle. We got lucky this war with regards to the homefront. It is politically incorrect to say nasty things about "the troops" right now in America. But I just wonder what people's real thoughts are...

The only way this process will improve is if senior NCOs and officers take it upon themselves to be on the lookout for these mental health issues for their people and in some cases forcibly order them to go seek counseling.

I agree with you that a culture change is required, but can this ever work without congress providing more resources? After all, what use is it if an officer orders someone to see a counselor but there is 3 year waiting list for counselors? Without th necessary funding, I can't see a culture change improving things much.

The entire military culture has to change, and it's not as easy as flipping on a light switch. And more litigation from Washington or the Pentagon probably isn't going to help matters much either...the only solution will come from the military leaders themselves.

OK. I agree, a culture change is required. So, is there any reason to believe that this culture change will ever happen? Placing blame on "the culture", while sometimes correct, is also a good way to avoid fixing problems. Who is in change of fixing the culture? How do we measure progress? If the "culture" doesn't get fixed, does that mean that future deaths can be blamed on military personal since there's nothing the civilian leadership can do to impact the culture?

It's comments like this that make me shy away from discussion of vets health issues in crazy ole' blogland. Fair enough if you want to criticize the military or whatever, it's a free country. But I wish the left would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of "faux-compassion" for vets with mental health issuess as a thinly veiled attempt at Badmouthing the Bush administration or dredging up the crazed vet meme.


A few things here literally make no sense:

1. I don't need faux compassion to bad mouth the Bush administration. Bush is an awful President who and his administration is beyond incompetent, especially in matters pertaining to war. Given that I've said that many times, I don't see what benefit I gain from faux-compassion.

2. You may wish for whatever you like, but I think society has a responsibility to veterans and I'm going to occasionally talk about it. If you don't like my doing so, feel free to pound sand.

3. I'm not dredging up the crazy vet meme. You are. I don't think vets are particularly crazy given their experiences. I do think we as a society have failed in discharging our responsibilities to them though.


Regardless of what label you apply to abuse received by soldiers with psychological issues from their units, it seems bad. And it seems that people who abuse their fellow soldiers suffering from PTSD are bad people. Because PTSD doesn't go away when you ignore it, abusing PTSD sufferers only increases the risk that someone screws up badly (in the field or at home) or that their disease is worsened.

Also, while the journalist might have been totally ignorant of military life, I don't think Tracey (the commenter upthread) was at all. LT Nixon or OCSteve, do you dispute Tracey's points? Is she ignorant as well?

"It may sound cliche, but I couldn't imagine being a part of that dying world back in America. People indulging in hedonism and wondering what their government and employer can provide them with as they pursue the apathetic life."

As I've said before to you, I wouldn't argue that there are plenty of civilians who are clueless about military life and culture.

However, I have to say that these two sentences don't bespeak deep familiarity with civilian culture, either. Oddly, some of us like to consider at least parts of our lives as at least minor contributions to our culture, our society, its art, science, achievements, and the like.

Considering most civilian life as mere "hedonism" is no less deeply ignorant and wrongheaded, however such a judgment might appropriately apply to some individuals. Society is about more than protecting itself, as absolutely necessary as that is, and contributions to society in terms of science, art, family, culture, business, justice, thought, and other values, are no less valuable, or what is it you're willing to fight to protect, anyway?

Is civilian life truly just about hedonism?

" It is politically incorrect to say nasty things about 'the troops' right now in America. But I just wonder what people's real thoughts are..."

As a rule, implying to people's faces that they are liars doesn't usually tend to win friends and influence people.

If someone explained to you that most military personnel only say they care about America because it's "politically correct" just now, and I explained that I wondered people in the military really thought of America, and what nasty things they said about America when civilians weren't around, how would you feel about that?

"People's real thoughts" around here can be approached in two broad ways: with some respect that they're probably pretty much telling the truth about their beliefs, or that they're not.

Choosing the latter, and making that clear, will tend to get a different response than choosing the former, I suggest.

LT Nixon -- Cynics always welcome, for sure. I hope you will post here more often so we can benefit from your perspective.

I can't speak for everyone posting here, much less "the left," but I think it is fair to say that it is not PC-fears behind vocal support of "the troops"; a lot of folks were speaking out against the Bush admin and its policies when it was definitely not "PC" to do so, and have been called unAmerican and traitors for it.

If I can risk generalizing, people I know (and those I read here) care about "the troops" as people, and are concerned for their welfare as friends (if we know them) and fellow human beings (if we don't).

(Another point -- in his explanation, I think CC was drawing a parallel, not calling *you* anything specific.)

Off-topic: I think I've seen you over in the comments at Lt. G's blog. Great writer.

"Off-topic: I think I've seen you over in the comments at Lt. G's blog. Great writer."

Google suggest you're talking about this guy, but given the lack of URL, it's hard to be sure: is this correct? I'm assuming there's no reason to be cryptic about your recommendation.

It may sound cliche, but I couldn't imagine being a part of that dying world back in America.

Let's be very clear: civilians work for a living. We do productive work. The military can't exist without our work. Bear that in mind when you consider our dying world. It seems strange to me that a dying world is somehow able to supply ever larger sums of money to support the DOD year after year. You'd think half a trillion dollars a year would be enough, but oh how wrong you would be. Perhaps if the US military ever transforms into a pure mercenary organization, it can exist independently enough of the dying civilian world for you to legitimately cast such aspersions.

People indulging in hedonism and wondering what their government and employer can provide them with as they pursue the apathetic life.

Apparently, no one indulges in hedonism in the military. I guess the vast number of prostitutes surrounding US military bases in the far east must have been a figment of my imagination. Presumably all the rapes were as well. I suppose those military officers recently charged with embezzling and defrauding the government had no interest in pleasure: they probably stole for reasons of honor. Of course, the vast majority of people in the military have precisely zero interest in what their employer will give them; that's why most recruits refuse to accept their signing bonus and that's why most military benefits go unclaimed.

Alternatively, one might believe that since the military is drawn from the civilian population, it doesn't differ too much as a group in terms of basic values. Note that I have no interest in whether you yourself are a hedonist; but I am mighty skeptical that the people around you are significantly less hedonistic than the population at large.

Honestly, I never thought I'd be able to really be part of America again, and I'd just move to some remote location somewhere.

Hopefully, you'll find one of the few remote locations that don't suck vast amounts of money from the more productive densely population regions. Otherwise, you might be forced to live the apathetic life, no doubt made all the more painful by relying on us hedonistic civilians for your sustenance. That would be awful.

I have to say, this all reminds me of the sense I get listening to McCain's speeches that civilian life isn't worth living, that merely taking care of your family and being economically productive is shameful, that unless you're living a regimented military life, life isn't really worth living.

Gary -- My apologies; I did not mean to be cryptic. Your google-fu has served you well, as I was in fact referring to the blog you linked.

Turb: do you dispute Tracey's points

I rather thought I was reinforcing them:

The change to question 21 mentioned by Nell is pretty important.

What we’re really talking about is simple peer pressure to perform. To push through pain and minor injuries, not to let the team down, etc.

But it tends to be overdone even when we’re talking about obvious physical injuries, much less mental health issues.

I have no doubt that there was pressure on the guy to just “suck it up”.

Etc.


On the rest of this….

I can see some of each side. IMO many blogs on the left only talk about these issues when they offer a convenient club to beat on the administration. That’s fine and good because a) the administration certainly has it coming and b) I’ll take whatever support I can get for these issues from anyone, regardless of motivation. But I do tend to notice that they really never discuss it for its own sake, just because we need to do the right thing. It seems (to me) to be important mainly as just another thing the administration managed to totally screw up, and as such it is primarily a political gottcha more than genuine concern about how vets are being treated.

With that said… LT Nixon, this is not one of those blogs, and hilzoy of all people is not one of those bloggers. As a veteran, a conservative, and a recovering Republican who has hung out here for a couple of years I’ll personally vouch for that. I assumed that your remarks were directed at Turb. If I had thought they were directed at hilzoy I would have been just as upset as some others here who did seem to think the remarks were directed towards hilzoy.

Turbulence said I guess the vast number of prostitutes surrounding US military bases in the far east must have been a figment of my imagination.

Fair enough, haha. I appreciate your honesty.

OCSteve LT Nixon, this is not one of those blogs, and hilzoy of all people is not one of those bloggers.

I know. I've had ObWi on my reader since Maj O was killed in action. It's a good blog.

Gary Farber said If someone explained to you that most military personnel only say they care about America because it's "politically correct" just now, and I explained that I wondered people in the military really thought of America, and what nasty things they said about America when civilians weren't around, how would you feel about that?

I'm not going to lie, sir, I'm pretty upset with a lot of things about America right now, and it's not just the people in charge...

And mental health issues are certainly a lot trickier for the average Lt. to spot than obvious physical problems.

We're not talking about having the average Lt diagnose every possible mental disorder known to man, are we? I thought we were talking about having the average Lt notice common signs of PTSD. Specifically, I'm thinking of the average Lt being presented with a soldier who has no prior disciplinary record but reports being unable to sleep due to nightmares, having thoughts of self harm, and resorting to substance abuse in order to calm the terror of everyday living. I think that when the average Lt sees that, he should send the soldier in question for counseling rather than trying to humiliate him and get him kicked out of the service.

I don't understand why the average Lt would have difficulty learning this. The basic symptoms of PTSD are not beyond comprehension. And no one expects the average Lt to spot every case or to only refer people that are actually sick for counseling. Do you really think what I've described above is beyond the intellectual abilities of the average Lt?

I’m taking this primarily as snark, but in the event you’re serious, I’ll join LT Nixon in objecting to the “crazed vet meme”.

Can you explain to me who here mentioned the crazed vet meme? Besides you and LT Nixon?

But I do tend to notice that they really never discuss it for its own sake, just because we need to do the right thing. It seems (to me) to be important mainly as just another thing the administration managed to totally screw up, and as such it is primarily a political gottcha more than genuine concern about how vets are being treated.

I'm trying really hard to figure out how your statement here is any less bogus than saying "yeah, I assume that most soldiers don't actually care about their country and only signed up for the enlistment bonus...I mean, if they really cared, they would have signed up before the bonuses were offered, right?". Can you tell me what that difference is?

I also don't understand how you can talk about whether people ever discuss it for its own sake. I mean, most people are going to talk about it when they see news articles on the subject. The blogosphere didn't really exist during Clinton's presidency and military operations at the time were a lot less intensive than they are now (i.e., many fewer combat hours), so I don't see how you can compare the blog coverage now with any other time period. I mean, issues with care of veterans will be less problematic when we don't have wars generating lots of new injured veterans.

Is there any way at all that people could discuss this issue without you assuming that they only care about it as a political cudgel? Or do you think you're just biased towards believing that and there is literally nothing that people can do to convince you otherwise? If there really is nothing we can do, then I don't see much reason to care about your opinion. If I told you that I know you're lying because the invisible evil monkey that only I can see told me so, I'd hope you wouldn't take my opinion too seriously.

With that said… LT Nixon, this is not one of those blogs, and hilzoy of all people is not one of those bloggers. As a veteran, a conservative, and a recovering Republican who has hung out here for a couple of years I’ll personally vouch for that. I assumed that your remarks were directed at Turb. If I had thought they were directed at hilzoy I would have been just as upset as some others here who did seem to think the remarks were directed towards hilzoy.

So OCSteve, can you explain to me why the comment is offensive when directed at hilzoy but not offensive when directed at me? Is there some evidence that I personally don't care about veterans' wellbeing?

"Is there some evidence that I personally don't care about veterans' wellbeing?"

I don't speak for OCSteve, of course, but I see no reason to assume that he was implying any such thing. It seems obvious to me that OCSteve has been reading Hilzoy for several years, and feels reasonably familiar with her attitudes and opinions as regards veterans and military issues, and he's far less familiar with you, despite your recent prolificness here.

That's sufficient to explain OCSteve's remark, it seems to me, without a need to read anything further into it.

Turb: Do you really think what I've described above is beyond the intellectual abilities of the average Lt?

In the case you laid out no. Of course not. I was thinking more in terms of the general, being able to spot symptoms, changes in behavior, etc. in cases where the soldier is not inclined to walk up and ask for help.


Can you explain to me who here mentioned the crazed vet meme? Besides you and LT Nixon?

That was in response to a specific comment, which I quoted when I wrote it so I’m not sure where the confusion could lie: It will probably take a few PTSD affected soldiers to form a group and going on a killing spree* to get proper public attention to this matter. That seems to fit into that meme…


Is there any way at all that people could discuss this issue without you assuming that they only care about it as a political cudgel?

Sure. Spend at least 80% of the post discussing the actual problems, the impact, and what can be done to fix it. That jumps right out at me.

When I read posts that mention the problem mostly as a lead in and then spend 80% of the post ranting about the evils of the administration, or just throw it on the front page as fodder for comments – well, I just get the feeling that the politics is more important.


…can you explain to me why the comment is offensive when directed at hilzoy but not offensive when directed at me?

I didn’t say anything about relative offensiveness. I said I’d be upset if I perceived it to be directed at hil. That’s from my perspective, reading her posts for a couple of years and knowing in my bones that she didn’t mean it that way, and feeling it important that Lt. Nixon not go away thinking she did, and I’d want to try to make him understand that. Your comment (that Lt. Nixon originally responded to) was fair game IMO. (Not that Lt. Nixon’s response to it wasn’t over the top.)

Or, what Gary said.

Concerning "PTSD victims going on a killing spree":
What I meant (and thought to have stated clear enough, though that seems to be a mistake on my part) is that for the public to really wake up and do something about the problems we are talking about, there would have to be something spectacular enough to make the front pages on a regular base or for an extended period of time. Soldiers "just" committing suicide, beating up their family, becoming alcoholics etc. is not "sufficient" to achieve that.
If on the other hand these forgotten victims would unite and go postal* in the US (not "just" shooting up some natives somewhere), then it would make the front pages, then it might make the public see the problem and it might lead to improvement. No guarantee though. Abu Ghraib was forgotten by the majority soon after it was fed with some bad apples.
Therefore the problem is not any "crazy vet meme" but, so to say, that the vets are not "crazy" enough to be noticed. To wake the deaf you need a big bell.

*in uniform!!!

Can you explain to me who here mentioned the crazed vet meme? Besides you and LT Nixon?

That was in response to a specific comment, which I quoted when I wrote it so I’m not sure where the confusion could lie: It will probably take a few PTSD affected soldiers to form a group and going on a killing spree* to get proper public attention to this matter. That seems to fit into that meme…

The first comment to mention anything about the crazy vet meme was LT Nixon's, but there was nothing that preceded that comment that alluded to the crazy vet meme. LTN invented that out of thin air. After LTN wrote his nonsense about the crazy vet meme, hartmut made a joke. Yes, I think it was a joke given that he explicitly said he did not want the shooting to happen and strongly implied that absent a shooting captured on film, Americans wouldn't give a damn about veterans' mental health. I'm not sure how hartmut's joke fits into that meme: is there any way to acknowledge that veterans who have been exposed to massive trauma will likely develop severe PTSD as a result without saying things that fit into that meme? I mean, if we just pretend that no veterans ever suffer psychological disorders resulting from their service, I guess we'll be safe...

You wrote that you were joining LTN in objecting to the crazy vet meme but that makes no sense: LTN was objecting to fictional attacks that don't exist. Even if he was upset with hartmut's joke, he started complaining about the nonexistant attacks before hartmut said anything. Causality matters.


Sure. Spend at least 80% of the post discussing the actual problems, the impact, and what can be done to fix it...When I read posts that mention the problem mostly as a lead in and then spend 80% of the post ranting about the evils of the administration, or just throw it on the front page as fodder for comments – well, I just get the feeling that the politics is more important.

What if you don't know a great deal about the actual problems, the impact and how to fix them? How does writing about this stuff correlate in any way with concern versus political posturing? Why do people have to pretend they know how to fix these issues or that they intimately understand the implications of these problems before you'll take them seriously?

I mean, is it fair to say that you don't care about children abused by polygamous cults? After all, this was just thrown up on the front page for comment. Most of the post was dedicated to scoring political points against Clinton. There was nothing about actual problems or their impact and very little about how to fix them.

Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I think if we applied this standard fairly, we'd have to conclude that every single blogger everywhere cares only about scoring political points. Obviously, you're entitled to feel whatever you want. If your feelings denigrate other people and you choose to voice them however, they well deserve some scrutiny.


I didn’t say anything about relative offensiveness. I said I’d be upset if I perceived it to be directed at hil. That’s from my perspective, reading her posts for a couple of years and knowing in my bones that she didn’t mean it that way, and feeling it important that Lt. Nixon not go away thinking she did, and I’d want to try to make him understand that. Your comment (that Lt. Nixon originally responded to) was fair game IMO. (Not that Lt. Nixon’s response to it wasn’t over the top.)

So, you give hilzoy the benefit of the doubt because of long readership and a feeling in your bones (you might want to get that looked at, it doesn't sound healthy), but other people that comment here are assumed to not care about veterans until they prove otherwise? Is that right?

LTN invented accusations out of whole cloth, said a bunch of things that made no sense, and then accused me of feigning compassion for veterans with no evidence whatsoever. I'm sorry, but I don't see how any of those things become less problematic when you substitute hilzoy for me. I think it is wrong to accuse people of only caring for veterans for political gain unless you have some real evidence about their beliefs. Do you disagree with that? Because that seems like it might be the crux of the disagreement.

Hartmut: Yes, I did actually assume it was a joke.

Turb: Do you disagree with that? Because that seems like it might be the crux of the disagreement.

I actually don’t know what the disagreement is twixt you and I. Usually the two us posting in the same thread seems to be enough. ;)

I initially tried to add some context I felt was missing. Nothing that should have riled anyone up I would think. The next thing I know: do you dispute Tracey's points? Is she ignorant as well? Hmm. And I thought I was bolstering her points, had to go looking for where I might have implied she was ignorant. Didn’t find that.

… but other people that comment here are assumed to not care about veterans until they prove otherwise? Is that right?

BS. In the specifics of this post, there was nothing that hilzoy said that could possibly call for the response some people seemed to feel was directed at hilzoy. But if I had perceived it had been directed at hilzoy I would have also been upset. Your comment did call for some response. I would have responded to you differently, but the fun was already underway when I got here. At the same time, as I said, the Lt’s response to you was over the top. So it’s off to the races.

Now you seem to want me to answer for what you believe are accusations made against you personally by someone else. I can’t really do that.

I got the impression the problem started when Turbulence accused LtNixon "But I wish the right would avoid wrapping themselves in a blanket of 'faux-patriotism' for vets with mental health issues as a thinly veiled attempt at badmouthing anti-war left-wingers or dredging up the 'Bush Derangement Syndrome' meme."

Or was it the other way round? You know, LtNixon accusing Turb of 'faux-compassion' and so on?

BS. In the specifics of this post, there was nothing that hilzoy said that could possibly call for the response some people seemed to feel was directed at hilzoy. But if I had perceived it had been directed at hilzoy I would have also been upset. Your comment did call for some response.

If the comment calls for a response, I'd like to see one. So far, I haven't seen any substantiative criticisms. Just a lot of panic at the thought that maybe not every single person in the military walks on water.

Now you seem to want me to answer for what you believe are accusations made against you personally by someone else. I can’t really do that.

No, you certainly can't do that and I don't expect you to. I do expect you to answer for what you wrote here though: IMO many blogs on the left only talk about these issues when they offer a convenient club to beat on the administration...they really never discuss it for its own sake, just because we need to do the right thing...it is primarily a political gottcha more than genuine concern about how vets are being treated....If I had thought [your remarks] were directed at hilzoy [rather than Turbulence] I would have been just as upset as some others here who did seem to think the remarks were directed towards hilzoy.

I interpreted that as referring to everyone here who is not a front page poster, including me specifically. IOW, I read that sentence as saying "most people on leftward blogs don't care about veterans except as a tool to mock Bush...I don't care if you say that about Turbulence, but I have a problem if you say that about hilzoy". Was I mistaken in that reading?

Hartmut:

Concerning "PTSD victims going on a killing spree":
What I meant (and thought to have stated clear enough, though that seems to be a mistake on my part) is that for the public to really wake up and do something about the problems we are talking about, there would have to be something spectacular enough to make the front pages on a regular base or for an extended period of time.
That certainly seems to fit the category of suggesting that a sufficient number of crazed vets exist who might go on a shooting spree.

I'm not sure what you're suggesting was misunderstood here.

Turbulence: "I'm not sure how hartmut's joke fits into that meme: is there any way to acknowledge that veterans who have been exposed to massive trauma will likely develop severe PTSD as a result without saying things that fit into that meme?"

I don't think that observing there is a very heavy incident of PTSD is synonymous with suggesting that sooner or later a crazed bunch of vets will "go on a killing spree." YMMV.

Is there a way? Yeah, there are infinite number of ways to discuss PTSD without suggesting that vets are inevitably going to be forming groups to go on killing sprees. This needs to be asked?

"So, you give hilzoy the benefit of the doubt because of long readership and a feeling in your bones (you might want to get that looked at, it doesn't sound healthy), but other people that comment here are assumed to not care about veterans until they prove otherwise? Is that right?"

As a datapoint, your continued harping on this reads to me like you're really looking as hard as possible to be offended, and demanding that OCSteve agree that he intended to offend you. This seems unnecessary and unhelpful.

"So far, I haven't seen any substantiative criticisms. Just a lot of panic at the thought that maybe not every single person in the military walks on water."

This also seems an unhelpful claim, but since you're making it: cite?

If I had thought [your remarks] were directed at hilzoy [rather than Turbulence] I would have been just as upset as some others here who did seem to think the remarks were directed towards hilzoy.

I interpreted that as referring to everyone here who is not a front page poster, including me specifically.

I can't see why you'd interpret those words that way, since they clearly say nothing of the kind.

What on earth is your "interpretation" based on, since it's obviously not based on the sentences you quoted, which clearly don't mean what you "interpreted"?

I give Turb. I enjoy many of our conversations but I don’t know what you want here. Would I defend hilzoy more readily than you? Guilty as charged.

OCSteve,

No worries. Perhaps I misinterpreted your writings.

If you're interested, what I want from you is a simple yes/no answer to the following question: are the commenters here covered by "many blogs on the left" in your quote below? No worries if you're not up for answering it; tis not a terribly important matter.

IMO many blogs on the left only talk about these issues when they offer a convenient club to beat on the administration...they really never discuss it for its own sake, just because we need to do the right thing...it is primarily a political gottcha more than genuine concern about how vets are being treated.

"If you're interested, what I want from you is a simple yes/no answer to the following question: are the commenters here covered by 'many blogs on the left' in your quote below?"

Obviously I don't speak for OCSteve, and maybe he meant exactly what you think, but his words plainly don't. None of us, I'm quite sure, are blogs on the left. I'm not a blog. Are you a blog?

Similarly, I don't do or have a "commenter here"; I have a blog. It's named "Amygdala." I am not it, and it is not me, any more than I am a chair, though I am using one right now.

To recap: all of us who comment here are commenters here, and none of us are, to my knowledge, blogs, whether left, right, or of any persuasion.

Words mean what they mean, rather than concepts we vaguely associate with them. If OCSteve indeed meant something other than what he plainly wrote, he's at fault for writing poorly, but choosing to assume that he meant something entirely different from the words he did write does seem an odd approach to me, and one that might not be optimal as a general approach. YMMV.

"We owe them better."

Our soldiers certainly don't deserve this.

Hilzoy has written extensively on our soldiers in Iraq, or coming home from Iraq, dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. So when I heard the news that five American service members were killed by a fellow soldier, I was horrified but not shocked.

The news was somehow made all the more painful that the shooting took place at a counseling center on an American military base in Baghdad on Monday.

We can only pray for their families, whose loss is unimaginable.

And hope the U.S. military realizes these injuries you can't see are every bit as fatal as the ones you can.


Make that:

And hope the U.S. military realizes these injuries you can't see CAN be every bit as fatal as the ones you can see.

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Whatnot


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