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“THE KILLER SYNDROME” July 28, 2009

Posted by wmmbb in Peace.
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Soldiers are trained to kill, and if the reports are accurate in Iraq the American Army has been very indiscriminate about who they kill. That may the effective policy rather than the official intention.

Then add in factors such as high exposure to violence and continual redeployment to murdering, and surprise the soldiers experience problems returning to civilian life.

These outcomes are wholly predictable, but nobody is responsible, and if soldiers can be dishonorably discharged the individual bears the full cost of any treatment. The usual pattern is self medication through drugs and alcohol, which surprisingly does not work. Typically, when family members attempt to warn the army, the warning is ignored or the individual is subject to humiliation, which on a number of reported occasion has been a very misguided move on the part of the protagonist.

Dave Philipps of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, via AntiWar.com, is close to the action has written two articles – Part I and Part II describing the problems of soldiers returning from Iraq. The article goes into some detail of the listed cases.

In another article, Tom Roeder in the same newspaper reported the propensity to engage in violence and murder of disturbed soldiers returning to Fort Carson as a puzzle. He reports:

Most Fort Carson soldiers who came home from war to commit murder had lives that were broken by combat stress, mental illness and drug and alcohol problems, a report released by the Army today says.

The report, commissioned by commanders last year after six 4th Brigade Combat Team soldiers were charged in murders in a 12-month period, says combat stress, and mental health issues found in the bulk of soldiers-turned-killers combined with a cocktail of substance abuse issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, that wasn’t consistently addressed.

It will result in increased screening for soldiers who show signs of trouble, policy changes and a series of Army studies at Fort Carson and elsewhere to better determine what eight years of war have done to troops. But the study reached no conclusions that showed a direct cause-and-effect relationship that led to the killings.

Unless we understand that peace is inconsistent with violence, and that peace can only be sustained and achieved by nonviolence these problems are going to recur, and costs borne directly by the trained killers will be indirectly borne by the society, but not that part of society who are the beneficiaries of the organized violence that is war. Similarly, it should be noted that individuals and the societies of Iraq, Afghanistan, and now add in Somalia suffer the effects of violence.

It is all too difficult to understand I suppose. The CBS report summed up the official response:

Last week, the Army released a study of soldiers at Fort Carson that found that the trauma of fierce combat and soldier refusals or obstacles to seeking mental health care may have helped drive some to violence at home. It said more study is needed.

The psychological condition has been known for a long time. Many people who returned from wars have retained a heightened awareness that commonplace sounds switch them on their full alert. Soldiers are trained to kill people, but once there is direct experience other parts of the human mind are switched on. Are we killing beings, or are we compassionate beings? Any systematic attempt to deny our underlying human nature, such as military training, is a process of dehumanization.

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