Monday, March 9, 2009

You Can't be Sick, There's a War to Fight!

My greatest respect to former Marine captain and rifle company commander Tyler E. Boudreau. In today's Globe, he reveals the dilemma he faced when the Iraq war began to drive his soldiers crazy:

In the spring of 2008, RAND released its well-known report in which it estimated that one in five service members returning from war will contend with symptoms of post-traumatic stress or depression. In a typical rifle company, those estimates would represent a loss of at least 30 men. I knew I couldn't afford that.

What good are soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder in the field? Yet what good is a company forced to fight at 80% of its strength? Boudreau states with stunning clarity, "A commander cannot serve in earnest both the mission and the psychologically wounded." The mission will come first, and people will be--have been--forced to fight when they should be receiving mental health care at home. Is there no Geneva Convention to keep us from torturing our own people?

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