Nine years ago the U.S invasion of Afghanistan began. Unbeknownst to most Americans, the U.S would still be in Afghanistan nine years later — struggling politically and operationally, to “win.” Unbeknownst to most Americans at the time, we would fight a parallel war in Iraq two years into that nine-year stretch, cycling more than 2.1 million servicemen and women through three million tours of duty in both countries.
Today, more than a dozen members of Iraq Veterans Against the War stood on the steps of the Russell Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington to call for an end to the deployment of mentally traumatized troops into these seemingly endless conflicts. Studies suggest that upwards of 35 percent of troops come home from war with some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, yet recent reports indicate that men and women are being redeployed zonked out on painkillers and psychotropic drugs, and in a growing number of documented cases, suicidal.
I spoke with Ethan McCord, a former Army infantry soldier who was present the day of the civilian killings made infamous by the Wikileaks’ Collateral Murder video. He actually pulled the wounded children out of the car that had been attacked by a U.S Apache helicopter. He said that event traumatized him so much he had asked for counseling that night. He said his commander told him to shove it.
Today, McCord is a single dad with three children — the youngest, 3, had been born while he was deployed. He pointed out that the children here in the U.S who were eight years old when we first invaded Afghanistan would be nearly eligible to join the military today. Sadly, both of us wondered aloud about our own eight-year-olds at home today, nine years from now. Where would they be?
More on McCord, the IVAW campaign, and the antiwar veterans’ ongoing struggle to be heard,Â in my Tuesday column.