VISUAL CARNAGE: Images of War Censored in America; No ‘Un-See’ Option for Participants, Who Must Bring it all Home

A partially-decapitated corpse lay on the ground after incoming Iraqi artillery fire hit a U.S. Marine Corps unit April 7, 2003. Two Marines died. At least four were wounded. Scenes like this return with the men and women who must fight and witness the violence on the ground. American media censors mostly restrain war zone photography that depicts any reality of war; the cerebral intimacy of lethal, violent death remains an unknown element to public audiences. At home, memories of war resurface uninvited in the mind through sight, smell and sound … symptoms doctors describe as a medical condition known as PTSD. Experts say up to 30 percent of the 2.5 million troops coming home from war will struggle with post-war psychiatric injuries. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in the U.S. military ranks. Since 2008, the VA and CDC estimate at least 29,000 veterans have died from suicide. (E. Dagnino / Black Star)

Michael Ware on the Things War Makes You See

As millions of war veterans return home, one reporter who watched and reported the carnage and killing faces the abyss—and survives.

by Michael Ware
Daily Beast, May 28, 2012

I should be dead. I wish I was.

Those eight words were not easy to write. It’s even harder now reading them back. Seeing them there, sullen and sad and monosyllabic in their black and white.

For the longest time I wished I was dead. I wished one of my multitude of near-misses wasn’t.

Later there then came a time — when I’d first stopped living in war and first found Brooklyn — a time when I consciously, achingly desired death. Craved it. Longed so hard and bitterly for it that it became some taut tripwire strung within me where no one could see.

Former CNN ‘ironman’ Michael Ware shares the dark side of coming home from war, dreams of violent death, and reaching for inner strength to overcome a powerful urge to just end it all. (Ralph Alswang)

But then, perhaps, thinking back, decoding it anew, maybe the wish was not to be dead? Not entirely? Not when I drill down into it.

Maybe my wish rather was for all the pain to simply end?

Yes, that’s starting to seem more like it. Maybe it wasn’t death I wanted so much as it was oblivion.

I won’t tell you how close I did or did not come in those angry days, after what feels now like an unspeakable decade of reporting wars; wars from Lebanon to Georgia, to Pakistan and Afghanistan; all mere accompaniments to six or seven years in Iraq.

But I will tell you of when, on a day I cannot distinctly remember, that I came to know I wouldn’t do it. That no matter what, no matter how badly I pined for it, I would nonetheless continue.

Even if that meant being sentenced to a slow, quiet torment for the term of my natural life. That was the day I finally accepted it was a choice no longer mine to make.

I know one day my now-young son will read this, hopefully when he himself is a man. I pray not sooner. It’s for him, and only for him, that I resisted.

Once I realized even a deadbeat father, should I become one, is still better than the specter of a dead dad, especially at his own hand.

The decision, however, was far from palliative.

I’ve since had thoughts, remembrances of that urge, despite knowing the execution of them is off the table. Because it doesn’t alter the immutable sense that my race is run. That I’m done. That all the rest, now, is busy work.

To this day my mind still reels with war’s usual kaleidoscope: dead kids splayed out, often in bits; screaming mates; crimson tides from al Qaeda suicide bombings creeping across asphalt. I still see … things.

Other things I cannot remember, even when told of them, but I know they haunt my sleep;

I tore my left shoulder right out of its socket during a dream one Friday night;

awakened by the hellish sound of someone screaming before realizing it was me.

So, yes, I still see things.

Mired in a falsehood of self-medication, I applied blizzards of booze and drugs to buy me time. To get me from one dawn to another sleep. To give me the time to reconcile my decision to live. All stealing for me just one more day, one more day.

I know one day my now-young son will read this, hopefully when he himself is a man. I pray not sooner. It’s for him, and only for him, that I resisted.

— Michael Ware, former CNN war correspondent on surviving after coming home from war duty.

Though in a perverted way it helped save me, it didn’t immunize me against the price for it all.

For now, I’m deprived of the right to see the boy I’m still here for, though he lives but blocks away and drives twice daily to school past my apartment.

I feel chewed and spat out by my past employers.

In the field it was only a colleague—a mate and true brother in arms, with me everywhere—who helped me at all.

And then, in New York, two other friends, both cameramen, discreetly found the doctor I went on to see in secret for almost two years. His bills came out of my pocket, no recompense from those who paid me for my wars.

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NEW RECORD HIGH: Army Officials Report at Least 281 Suicides Through First 10 Months of 2012

Army Suicides for 2012 Surpass Last Year’s Numbers

Press TV, Nov 16, 2012

Ten months into 2012, the number of suspected suicides by active-duty soldiers has surpassed last year’s total, even as the Pentagon struggles to stem the persistent problem.
According to the Army, there were 20 possible suicides in October, bringing the total for the year to 166 — one more than the total for 2011. The 20 suspected soldier suicides in October is also a spike, compared to 15 in September.
U.S. Army officials have been worried about the pace of suicides this year and were concerned the numbers would surge higher than last year despite efforts to increase programs and outreach. In late September, the Army ordered a service-wide “stand down” requiring soldiers to put aside their usual duties and spend time discussing suicide prevention, including how to identify signs of trouble with their comrades.
Military leaders have wrestled with ways to identify factors that trigger suicides. While it has been linked to combat stress, many of the suicide victims are soldiers who have never deployed. Other pressures, including marital, financial or health problems, are also known causes of suicides.
Officials have also been puzzled by the rise in suicides after years of working to blunt the problem with new programs such as a regime of resilience training starting at boot camp and the hiring of more psychiatrists and other mental health workers.
Suicides among National Guard and Reserve soldiers who are not on active duty are also on pace to surpass last year’s numbers. According to the Army, there were 13 potential suicides — nine Army Guard and four Army Reserve — in October, bringing the year’s total to 114. The total for 2011 was 118. AP


More members of the U.S. Armed Forces died by their own hand – usually with a gun – during the first nine months of 2012 than had their lives ended by the enemy in Afghanistan during the same period.
During the first nine months of 2012, there were 247 suspected suicides among Army active- and reserve-duty personnel, compared to 222 military deaths among active and reserve personnel from “hostile causes” as of Sept. 28.
Nationally, suicides among active and non-active military personnel are increasing. In July alone, a record 38 confirmed or suspected suicides were recorded, including 26 among active-duty soldiers and 12 among National Guard or reserve soldiers who were not on active duty.
Mental-health problems were the top reason troops were hospitalized in 2011, according to a May Pentagon report. Nearly 22,000 troops were hospitalized with mental disorders last year, 54% more than in 2007. Time
The Army has been struggling to deal with the suicide problem since numbers began rising in 2004. This year, the average is nearly one soldier suicide a day. NPR
In comments before Congress in July, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta characterized the suicide rate as “an epidemic”. Gen. Loyd J. Austin III, the Army’s vice-chief of staff, commented, “Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army”.

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THE WAR COMES HOME: “Weep, America, Cringe, America”

Author Aaron Glantz’s book, “The War Comes Home,” introduces the reader to the serious problems confronting a generation of modern veterans after their war service. Since 2008, at least 23,000 U.S. veterans have taken their own lives, according to estimates by the VA and the CDC. So far in 2012, all four military service branches expect to reach new record highs for the number of personnel dying from suicide and ‘accidental’ toxic drug overdoses. (Getty)

The War Comes Home
Washington’s Battle against America’s Veterans

by Aaron Glantz
January 2009

BLOGBACK: With America’s military campaigns unfolding in distant lands like Afghanistan and Iraq, the citizenry’s distance to this time and place in modern history is far. There is a physical distance, but more importantly, there is a distance of the conscience within American society. This is particularly true when it comes to the story of American veterans coming home with the full spectrum of deep war burdens. Americans are distracted from these men and women. Aaron Glantz shows — in his non-fiction journey alongside American vets — that he is not distracted. With extraordinary detail, Glantz presents and explains the human disaster brought home from war service in the U.S. military during the Post-9/11 era. Required reading for any American concerned about the legacy of the current generation, and the relationship between America and her veterans.

CLick here to learn more about this book.

The War Comes Home is the first book to systematically document the U.S. government’s neglect of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Aaron Glantz, who reported extensively from Iraq during the first three years of this war and has been reporting on the plight of veterans ever since, levels a devastating indictment against the Bush administration for its bald neglect of soldiers and its disingenuous reneging on their benefits.

Glantz interviewed more than one hundred recent war veterans, and here he intersperses their haunting first-person accounts with investigations into specific concerns, such as the scandal at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This timely book does more than provide us with a personal connection to those whose service has cost them so dearly.

It compels us to confront how America treats its veterans and to consider what kind of nation deifies its soldiers and then casts them off as damaged goods.



1 A Soldier Comes Home 3

2 Trying to Adjust 16

3 A Different Kind of Casualty 28


4 The Scandal at Walter Reed 49

5 Coming Together 61

6 Education 69

7 Drugs, Crime, and Losing Your Benefits 86

8 Losing Your Benefits—Personality Disorder 95


9 Meet the Bureaucracy 105

10 Didn’t Prepare to Treat the Wounded 118

11 More Bureaucracy 129


12 Crime 143

13 Homeless on the Streets of America 156

14 Suicide 167

15 Suicide after the War 176


16 A History of Neglect 193

17 Winning the Battle at Home 208

Postscript: The War Inside 218

Afterword 227

Notes 229


“Written by a war correspondent who suffered from PTSD after a stint in Iraq, this book manages superbly to relate the stories of wounded individuals, describe the political and institutional issues that have led to the neglect of returnees’ problems, and suggest resources for veterans and their families. Essential for every U.S. public and academic library.” —Library Journal

“Sharply drawn examples and evidence-based judgments render all three stories highly readable.” —Choice

“A breathtaking rebuke to government hypocrisy and an overdue contribution to gaining critical public awareness of this official neglect.” —Publishers Weekly

“Aaron Glantz is one of the truly outstanding young journalists of our times.” —Bob McChesney, author of Rich Media, Poor Democracy, and founder of Free Press

“One of the many scandals of the war in Iraq is how the administration has betrayed our returning servicemen. I’m grateful that the facts surrounding these tragedies are finally being exposed.” —Paul Haggis, Academy-Award-winning director of Crash and In the Valley of Elah, screenwriter of Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima 

“A must-read for those who claim to support our troops.” —Robert G. Gard, Lt. General, U.S. Army (ret.)

“The treatment by the Bush Administration of America’s returning veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is one of the saddest chapters in American history. This story is painfully documented by Aaron Glantz. This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to make the phrase, ‘Support the Troops,’ more than a slogan.” —Former US Senator Max Cleland

“A fitting tribute to what these men and women fought and risked their lives and well-being for.” —Gerald Nicosia, author of Home to War 

“This superbly documented and eloquent book is a clarion call for honesty, compassion, outrage, and an end to the lies that cause so much suffering in far-off countries and in our own nation.” —Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death

“Aaron Glantz draws on his eyewitness experiences of reporting in Iraq to bring the courage and the suffering of our troops into vivid relief. The War Comes Home exposes how physical and mental injuries plague our returning servicemen and what we can do about it.”—Linda Bilmes, coauthor of The Three Trillion Dollar War

“Weep, America, cringe, America. We talk a good game about honoring all those who go into harm’s way for our sake and caring for those who get physically and psychologically broken, but do we go beyond fine words and a few gold-plated flagship medical facilities? Are we walking the walk? Are we getting it right? Aaron Glantz is in our face on the military treatment facilities, the VA, and civilian society at large.”—Jonathan Shay, MD, PhD, author of Achilles in Vietnam and Odysseus in America. MacArthur Fellow

“Aaron Glantz reports on the human cost of war, what it does physically and emotionally to those young men and women who carry out industrial slaughter. He rips apart the myths we tell ourselves about war and illustrates, in painful detail, the dark psychological holes that those who have been through war’s trauma endure and will always endure. He reminds us that the essence of war is not glory, heroism, and honor but death.”—Chris Hedges, former New York Times foreign correspondent, author of War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

“We should all be reading people like Greg Palast and Aaron Glantz.”—Al Kennedy, The Guardian (UK)

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