Kevin Zeese / Voters for Peace & Iraq Veterans Against the War – 2010-10-08 00:10:25
Soldiers Call for End to Practice of
Sending Traumatised Troops
Back into Battle
Josh Rushing / Al Jazeera
WASHINGTON, DC (October 8, 2010) — Thursday, October 7, was the ninth anniversary of the beginning of the US war in Afghanistan. Marking the event at the US Capitol building in Washington DC, a small group of military veterans have launched a campaign to end the practice of sending traumatised troops back into the battlefield.
The Afghan Nightmare Enters its Tenth Year
Kevin Zeese / Voters for Peace
As the United States enters into the 10th year of the War in Afghanistan, the longest war in US history, there are many horrors and injustices to remember: the widespread killing and terrorizing of Afghan civilians, the arrest and torture of thousands of Afghans, US support for the corrupt Afghan government, the death of American soldiers, the redeployment of injured soldiers, the incredible waste of resources and on and on the list continues.
We are joining with our allies at Iraq Veterans Against the War to support Operation Recovery an effort to stop the deployment of traumatized troops. The US military is spread thin on illegal wars — Iraq, Afghanistan and now, Pakistan — the deployment of injured soldiers is essential to continuing these wars. It is time to put an end to this practice.
Voters for Peace opposes the current wars of aggression, wants to see the wars ended immediately and all US troops brought home.
Operation Recovery: Let Our Soldiers Heal
Iraq Veterans Against the War
On October 7, the 9th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, Iraq Veterans Against the War will announce our first-ever strategic campaign, Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops. We recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
However, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. Furthermore, we know that without the repeated use of traumatized soldiers on the battlefield, the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan could not continue. This is how we will end these wars, by winning our Right to Heal.
Ethan McCord’s Story
US Army specialist Ethan McCord was one of the first on the scene when a group of suspected insurgents was blown up on a Baghdad street in 2007, hit by 30-mm bursts from an Apache Helicopter.
“The top of one guy’s head was completely off,” he recalls. “Another guy was ripped open from groin to neck. A third had lost a leg… Their insides were out and exposed. I’d never seen anything like this before.”
Then McCord heard a child crying from a black minivan caught in the barrage. Inside, he found a frightened and wounded girl, perhaps 4. Next to her was a boy of 7 or so, soaked in blood. Their father, McCord says, “was slumped over on his side, like he was trying to protect the children, but he was just destroyed.
McCord couldn’t look away from the kids. “I started seeing images of my own two children back home in Kansas.”
— Mark Thompson, Invisible Wounds: Mental Health and the Military, TIME Magazine 2010.
After this tragic incident Ethan sought out help and was denied. Mr. Thompson continues, That night, he told his staff sergeant he needed help. “Get the sand out of your vagina,” McCord says his sergeant responded. “He told me I was being a homo and needed to suck it up.” This was a violation of Ethan’s Right to Heal: a right that he and other IVAW members are fighting for.
On October 7th Ethan will be bring his testimony to DC along with other Veterans and GIs to announce Operation Recovery: A Campaign to Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops.
We are reaching out to you. In building up to the announcement we need you to help us inform others about this issue and get them to pledge their support for the campaign. Sign the Pledge of Support today. Do you want to help IVAW end the occupations? Then sign the Pledge of Support today.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are continuing through the use of exhausted troops who have been on multiple tours of duty and suffer deeply from the trauma of war. It is cruel and inhumane to deploy soldiers who are medically unfit for combat.
In a 2008 TIME article, “America’s Medicated Army,” Mark Thompson writes, Data contained in the Army’s fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicated that, according to an anonymous survey of US troops taken last fall, 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. By winning our Right to Heal, we will be withdrawing this 12 to 17 percent from the fighting force, crippling the military’s ability to continue the occupations.
Thousands of troops are being sent to war despite suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and Military Sexual Trauma (MST). Many of us within IVAW have faced or are currently facing deployment as we try to recover from the severe trauma we have already experienced.
While we recognize that we must stop the deployment of all soldiers in order to end the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we see the deployment of soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Military Sexual Trauma as particularly cruel, inhumane, and dangerous. Military commanders across all branches are pushing service members far past human limits for the sake of “combat readiness.” We cannot allow those commanders to continue to ignore the welfare of their troops who are, after all, human beings.
There is a problem, a basic right is being denied, and we will organize to get it back.
This issue affects all of us. Everyone needs to recognize that the improper standards of care in the military and VA are harming our brothers and sisters, our nation, and only furthers the cycle of dehumanization and destruction of these wars.
Service Members Have the Right to Heal
Because the military is desperate for warm bodies in the field, and the VA doesn’t have the resources to serve all those in need, too often service members are conveniently denied care or access to quality mental health screenings. We say, service members with PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to high quality health care. They have the right to seek care and pursue treatments in the best interest of their health and well-being.
Service members have the right to receive medical care and advice from medical professionals. A commander’s orders always supersede the opinion of military medical professionals when it comes to the well-being of our troops. We say, no military authority shall override the advice of medical professionals regarding the health of service members.
Service members who experience PTSD, TBI, MST, and combat stress have the right to exit the traumatic situation and receive immediate support, and compensation. Too often, service members are forced to redeploy back into dangerous combat, or train in situations that re-traumatize them.
We say, individuals suffering from trauma have the right to remove themselves from the source of the trauma. Service members who are not physically or mentally healthy shall not be forced to deploy or continue service.
We will support service members standing up for their right to heal, and we will stand against those responsible for violating them.
We will expose those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops. Those responsible will do everything they can to hide the truth, but Operation Recovery will expose the truth.
We will demand those responsible for the deployment of traumatized troops end this inhumane practice, and back our demands up with collective action.
We will end these wars by winning our right to heal We know that without the repeated use of traumatized soldiers on the battlefield, the occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan could not continue.
Operation Recovery Announcement
Iraq Veterans Against War
(October 6, 2010) — October 7th in Washington DC, IVAW members will assemble at Walter Reed Army Medical Center where we will conduct outreach to soldiers affirming their Right to Heal. After which we will begin a six-mile symbolic march from Walter Reed to Capital Hill. With each step of this march we will bring the traumas of war from the failing military health institutions into plain view of generals and lawmakers.
When we arrive at the Capital we will hold a press conference to announce our new National Campaign, Operation Recovery. Ethan McCord and others will give testimony to their experiences of being denied health services and being retained in a traumatic environment or redeployed with ongoing health issues.
We will then walk to the offices of each member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to deliver a Notice that the sector responsible for the deployment of traumatized Troops is now on watch and that we are going to find out who is responsible for this inhumane practice and stop them.
We are asking that you prepare to take action with us on October 7th. In the coming weeks we will be asking you to;
â€¢ Help us tell the story of the announcement by spreading the word about this campaign to your friends, co-workers, and family;
â€¢ Write letters-to-the-editor of your local paper about the issues affecting troops who suffer from military trauma;
â€¢ Help identify those responsible for deploying traumatized troops in your local area;
We need you to help make this happen. Make a pledge of support now.
IVAW Campaign Team
Voters for Peace, 2842 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21218. (443) 708-8360.