Tag Archives: military

1 in 5 Come Home Mentally Ill

18 Apr

“A war is like when it rains in New York and everybody crowds into doorways, ya know? And they all get chummy together. Perfect strangers. The only difference, of course, is in a war it’s also raining on the other side of the street and the people who are chummy over there are trying to kill the people who are over here who are chums.”–Hawkeye Pierce, “M*A*S*H”

When it comes to electronics, I’m pretty lame. I mean, I just got an iPod in March (thanks Sarah!) So it should come as no surprise that I own a Playstation 1 with a variety of outdated games including Spyro the Dragon, Tomb Raider (1 & 2), and Crash Bandicoot Racing. The last one is my favorite because cartoon characters drive little cars around and lob bombs, rockets, and other weapons at one another. I get a certain feeling of satisfaction running one of my opponents off the road with one of the weapons in my arsenal. I feel even better when I win. However, if it wasn’t a game (and didn’t involve cartoon characters), destroying others wouldn’t be so…fun. It would be devastating, heartbreaking, and just plain mean. But it’s just a game, right?

Sadly, every single stinkin’ day there’s a suicide bomber somewhere blowing up something. There are militants slaughtering the innocent. There are troops out in the desert being shot are by snipers. In reality, war is hell, and people are living it every day. Plus the technology developed to kill is far more sophisticated than my Playstation 1. With a press of a button, a missile can wipe out a village, like the people never existed.

Is it any wonder that one in five soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan now suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder? (Full story) Maybe the sickest “deaths” can’t even be measured in a body count. Perhaps the sickest death isn’t just a dead son or daughter in a body bag, but a man or woman suffering from mental illness. Despite how noble our military is, you can’t go to a place and kill people for six months and be OK. I believe it changes a human because it’s dehumanizing. We were never created to kill. It’s not part of the original design that God had for us. But because we are fallen, we are at war with ourselves, our world, and each other (Rob Bell points this out in Sex God).

Major depression and PTSD can be treated effectively. They can be medicated, get counseling, and go on to lead great lives. I’m not condemning our men and women in uniform to life in an asylum. I am merely saying that the cost of war isn’t just in dollars and death, but in the quality of life that exists for our soldiers once they do come home. I don’t know how I feel about the war in Iraq. I don’t know whether we should have gone in the first place. I don’t know what to do now and if immediate withdraw is the right option. I just don’t know. But I do know that once the troops do come home, we need to support them, love them, and help heal them however we can.

The other thing I know is this–I hate war. Yet I know that war will continue to be part of this present reality, as Jesus said, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7).

You know what I hate most about war? The fact that no one really wins. In the end our side has casualties and so does their side. And really, when you think about it, you have a 19 year-old American soldier fighting against a 19 year-old Iraqi or whoever. They’re shooting at each other and but they really have no beef with each other…just that the other one is the “enemy” because they’ve been told the other side is the enemy. Given another situation, and if they could communicate well enough, they’d probably go get a beer and pick up girls together. But war makes them enemies and they shoot to kill.

I hate war and I have what it does to the minds of the people who are fight in it.


Does Marines Abuse of Puppy Indicate More?

4 Mar

I grew up around a lot of animals–turtles, hamsters, dogs, snakes, elephants, lions, and walruses to name a few (OK, I made up the elephants, lions, and walruses). Whether a squirrel in the park or the cat in our house (that won’t stay off the counter), animals are a part of our everyday lives. Many people like animals, some people love them, and there are a few individuals who abuse them…greatly.

Animal abuse is a strict violation of one of the first commands God gave to man in Genesis–take care of the earth. You can eat plants and animals, but don’t abuse the earth. Obviously, with our world in a state of environmental crisis, we haven’t been good stewards of the planet. Furthermore, humans flagrantly violate this rule when they mistreat animals.

All this came to mind today, when I read about a YouTube video showing a couple of Marines (or men dressed as Marines) abusing a puppy. The Fox News article said that the public outcry has been great and so far the video’s had 135,000 hits (full story). It’s been removed from YouTube due to its TOS violation, but it’s popped up other places online.

I refuse to watch the video because I know that it would upset me greatly. According to the aforementioned article, the two men find a stray black and white puppy and throw it off a cliff. There are more details, but you can read the article or watch the video if you’re interested.

I find this disturbing for a number of reasons…

1. Animal abuse is sick. Seriously, animals are so sweet and loyal (for the most part). The poor puppy,  especially if it was an abandoned stray, was probably starving and looking for food. It foolishly thought that these two men could help. Sick, sick, sick.

2. People who abuse animals go on to abuse people. Every time I’ve heard about a serial killers, it was also mentioned that the wacko tortured animals as a kid. I haven’t heard a case of child abuse where the pets weren’t also abused. Violent people abuse anything in their paths, whether they be puppies or babies.

3. Are members of the military prone to violence? I know we are supposed to swell with pride whenever our military is mentioned, and I support the troops. Yet I wonder as we turn regular men and women into killing machines if we’re not destroying part of what makes them human. Really, they go into battle destroying the “enemy”, which is composed of people on the other side trained to do the same.

After dropping bombs, shooting others, being attacked while on patrol, how can we expect these men and women to be normal? Sure, they may seem fine on the outside, but they are desensitized to things that horrify us because it’s part of the job. Perhaps these two men saw a couple of comrades gunned down by a sniper or came face-to-face with the enemy who was just like a man like them, not a demon. Who knows if they were really Marines? Who knows if they saw combat? Who knows their stories?

But when you think about it, when you’re “trained to kill” or do whatever is necessary to protect your unit, abusing a little puppy doesn’t seem that out of line, does it? Not when you’ve shot to death dozens of others.

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