Vietnam Veteran by Camillo Mac Bica

You were conscripted against your will or convinced by lies and deceit that the threat to all you held sacred was real, and grave, and imminent.

You believed that patriots must rally, sacrifice their life’s plans and dreams, enlist in the military or submit to the draft, to fight, and if necessary to die, in defense of the country you loved.

. . . before the final domino falls.

You were conditioned to forget all you had learned and held sacred, programmed a warrior, sent to a far off land you never heard of, to destroy and to kill in senseless battles, your life and well being threatened, your spirit a casualty, and many of your friends needlessly slaughtered.

. . . a war of "attrition," concerned only with body count, theirs versus yours determining the victor.

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‘Thank You for Saving My Son From All the Grief and Pain!’

I recently spoke at a conference sponsored by the National Association of Social Workers discussing the moral injury suffered by veterans returning from war. Other speakers included a clinician from the local Veterans Administration Medical Center, a woman Somali veteran and poet, and a panel composed of veterans from Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The audience, primarily clinicians working in the field and veterans struggling to make sense of their experiences in war, were enthusiastic and appreciative of the information provided. As is customary at such events, upon the completion of the conference, attendees were asked to complete a feedback form evaluating and commenting upon content, relevance of the information presented, the strengths and weaknesses of the presenters, etc. I am pleased to say that for the most part, the feedback was positive and complimentary. One comment, in particular, I thought quite noteworthy.

"My son is seriously considering joining the Marine Corps, but as a result of hearing the experiences of the veterans both while in the military and afterward, after learning about the prevalence and seriousness of Moral Injury, we are now going to rethink this decision. Thank you for saving my son from all the grief and pain!"

What this attendee’s comment makes clear, I think, is that as parents and their offspring become educated about the realities and perhaps, the likely consequences of military service and war – Post Traumatic Stress (PTS),moral injury, etc. – information that is not readily available, perhaps intentionally so, from the recruiters who frequent our high schools, prospective enlistees and their families become better able to make informed choices.

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