True Price of War Costs Human Lives, Forget Counting Dollars
Dust and sand, agitated by the choppers blades, dance in chaos around the khaki Bates boots, our boys doing all they can to shield their faces, for as they know the price of war in Iraq is heavy. Sure the price of war can be argued in cost, actual dollar amounts, which is what the media seems to highlight more often than not. But you want to talk numbers? Ok here we go.
The price of war currently has taken on an entirely different face. Where as war was known for its loss of lives, occasional posttraumatic stress disorder and actual dollar costs, this new demon that we fight against in the Middle East is unseen. What many people don’t realize is from the minute our boys touch down in boot camp they will never be the same. My theory on this war, you either lose yourself physically or mentally over there, you never come back the same.
The Sydney Morning Herald said it best back on April 21, 2012. The fight for mental health continues long after war is over. For 11 years the United States has been a presence in Afghanistan, however we are not the only ones who are losing soldiers on a daily basis. Australia’s soldiers are facing psychological fallout that the country is saying will reverberate for decades to come. Although Australia does not keep numbers on the Veterans who commit suicide, they are hoping that the Australian mental health system is better then the United States. The Australian Defence Force (ADF) estimates roughly 2500 personnel (8%) who fought between 2002 and 2009 could go on to have PTSD in the years to come.
It sickens me not only as a sister of a Marine, but as a citizen of the United States of America, that we do not acknowledge the price of freedom. Freedom is a great thing, but think about it, that movie you went to last Saturday night, that cost 3 human lives. Or the wedding you are looking forward to drinking and dancing the night away at, which costs 15 soldiers lives. People wake up, look around, we are no better than the Roman’s and Greeks of the old days, when sacrifice was a way to keep the gods at bay. And this is the thing, WE do not sacrifice anything, young men and women sign a piece of paper knowing god damn well they might not be alive at the end of their four, five or six year enlistment.
Canada does not seem to be much different in the ways of economic thinking placing a soldiers mental health needs behind their government pay checks. The National Post released a story today highlighting that as suicide rates increase, the suicide prevention staff decreases due to budget cuts. Well perhaps our soldiers should take a look at the paychecks and money they receive and second-guess whether they should go into battle for these individuals. Oh but wait I’m sorry, they don’t think like that, instead the majority, no matter where they are from, place on the uniform that signifies loyalty, a love for their country and pride that they will continue to provide a future filled with freedom for generations to come.
In my first article I talked about the purpose of war, highlighting the fact that political agenda seems to be the forerunner behind the war itself. In another article I did a while ago, I detailed another life that has been spent on the price of war, military service dogs.
What I am trying to say is that the price of war far exceeds the congressional debates we watch. Sure 40%-50% of our national debt each year is from war costs, however how can we put a price on the life of a soldier? From the families that lose loved ones, whether it be mentally or physically, to the soldier that is rehabilitating himself to live life without a leg or arms, these are sacrifices that were made selflessly. If you ask me the media is selfish as they use the military to hype up the American people around this “huge” election, without properly displaying the true price of war; human lives.
Perhaps you don’t know what the price of war truly feels like, I pray you do not. But I remember when my brother signed that piece of paper that sent him down to the Marines boot camp four years ago; it ripped my heart out. I realized than I either started looking at the big picture or I would become eaten alive by my fear of losing him. I watch friends return home, never the same as who they were before they devoted a piece of themselves to a war that they did not ask for.
Soldiers do not ask for much, their families really don’t either. Sure I blog every so often on this subject, I wish I could do more, however the price of war needs to be seen not by the dollar signs that it costs, but by the human lives that are sacrificed selflessly on a daily basis.
Unlike other wars, soldiers are doing multiple tours. When they are over there they are acting more in a police manner, being sent out on patrols in humvee’s, requiring constant vigilance and not allowing a moment’s of rest to their mind. The two biggest issues behind the rise in PTSD however involve the lack of media coverage and support, which than leads into the lack of understanding from society as the soldiers return home. They shut off. They just sacrificed their lives, went above and beyond the call of duty, to return home and be bossed around by a guy who doesn’t even know what courage is for $9 an hour in a retail/deli job. Where is the honor in that? While the media is highlighting stories about Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan or the Kardashians, the faces that depict the price of war are not being remembered.
On a site known as the Invisible Victims, one of the things highlighted is that the cameras were allowed onto the battlefield during Vietnam, therefore the viewers at home knew what these boys were facing when they went out. Now I have no idea, I cannot even begin to imagine it, despite how much I can ask my friends, my brother, they will never tell. Its like if you were sitting next to a person who weighed 200 lbs more than you. How would it make them feel hearing you complain about your weight problem when to them you have nothing of the sort. Well for soldiers who return home, not getting milk in your tall Starbucks coffee is not something that should ruin your day. When they hear us complaining about how hard life is, they are thinking about how easy we have it. We do not have to watch our friends, brothers, die out there in front of our eyes. We are not forced into the decision to shoot an innocent child or person because they may be coming at you with a bomb strapped to their chest. At night we lay down and rest, wondering about whether or not next week’s episode of Game of Thrones will show something or the Yankees will beat Boston in the upcoming series. Soldiers, well they lay down and wonder if they can fall asleep, who will they lose tomorrow, will they be able to read the next letter from a loved one, are they thinking about us at home, could I have saved him if I had gotten there sooner… And the list goes on and on about the thoughts that I can only imagine plague the silent minds of our soldiers.
You want numbers? Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom/Afghanistan has claimed 6444 American lives since 2001 according to ICasualties.org. From the UK and other countries, 1347 lives have been lost. Now this is not even counting the soldiers who have been wounded, inflicted with PTSD or have committed suicide. Sorry, but to me these numbers represent the true price of war.