Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Iraq/Afghan war veterans paying a heavy price
To the Editors:
I was amazed at the brutal honesty of the Associated Press article in the Intell/New Era, Feb. 25: "Veterans struggle with their guilt."
Our military men and women rightly receive kudos for their bravery, for answering the call of duty to their country. It is less common to read the heart-wrenching words of Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo, who "carries the guilt of a killer every day."
Following his combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, "I can't forgive myself. And the people who can forgive me are dead."
Capt. Kudo speaks of something more than PTSD. He calls it a moral injury that tortures the conscience with deep shame, guilt and rage. Tragically, the human psyche is finite, and suicide becomes the answer of choice for too many.
Consequently, more U.S. military personnel have died by suicide since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began than those who have died during combat.
Mike Fayette, another veteran, wrote, "If service members are killing themselves faster than the enemy can, then who is the real enemy?"
But what about those who have resisted suicide, who live with tortured conscience day after day?
I have never been in military combat, but my cousin, Don, served in World War II. His wound left him a paraplegic the rest of his life. He wrote, "More mental and emotional injuries occur during combat than physical injuries. Something the Army does not care to publicize."
Answers to this dilemma seem to evade our military experts. Could it be that, like the problem with guns, we seek answers to the wrong question?
Until we will embrace the reality that war is not the answer, we may expect to see this troublesome problem to worsen.
When will we -- Christians, nonetheless -- receive the words of Jesus: "All who take the sword will perish by the sword"?