I was surprised when I first started looking for help with PTSD that there were so many WWII vets already in programs. I have talked to 80+ year old veterans who tear up when they start talking about those buddies they lost like it was yesterday.
Sixty some years after their friend died and they can remember every word spoken that day, where exactly they were, and who all was there. War memories are posted in your mind and their frequent recall over the years keeps them fresh.
Some weeks everything will go just fine, and thoughts of war are far away, but then something will trigger those memories to pop back up, and they are all you can think about. It might be a smell, the sun flashing through the trees just like it did on that day so long ago, or maybe the screams of little kids playing on a playground that at another time were screams of terror.
You would think after decades you would be able to set that combat experience aside and get on with your life. Some might think that service in a War like Vietnam with all of its atrocities are the reason you have to pay for your time served there, but what about the "Good War."
World War II was supposed to be a good war (if any war can be good) where good triumphed over evil. However, good war or bad war, the horrors of combat are about the same.
The other day a friend posted this on Face Book: 40 years ago today, a peace accord was reached between the United States and Vietnam (Jan. 23, 1973). The sacrifices made by our Vietnam veterans will never be forgotten. —Levi.
I replied, "And just why did we make those sacrifices?"
More and more veterans I meet are asking the question of why they fought the war they were in. Yes, the world thinks WWII was a good war, but the veterans who actually fought know better. Some wonder why so many died in the sands of North Africa when there was nothing to gain by taking it. Others wondered why they didn't just pass on by some of those islands in the Pacific instead of wading ashore to a hail of machine gun fire that slaughtered thousands of their comrades. What would have been wrong with starving those Japs with a naval blockade?
Korean War vets talk about all of their friends who froze to death in a war that the Americans at home had little idea was even going on. When they did get home, friends asked, "Where you been?"
Most Vietnam vets now realize that the Vietnamese had no desire to attack our country nor did they have the means to attack us even if they wanted. So they have to ask, what were we fighting for, and why did the President of the United States lie us into the war with the phony attack in the Gulf of Tonkin?
The same can now be said by our combat veterans who have fought in Iraq or Afghanistan or in many cases both. Neither of those two countries had a navy or functioning air force. Afghanistan didn't even have an army, and from the results of our attack on Iraq, they didn't have much of one either
So, we have millions of combat veterans who have to live with their war for the rest of their lives. It sure makes me wonder how supposed veterans who attain political office can send others off to garner a life-time of horrible memories in wars of choice.
Yes, you can say WWII was forced on us even though there is much written that shows it could have been avoided, but Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were all certainly wars of choice by politicians who don't understand and don't care how those they send off to fight will be reliving that war for much of the rest of their lives.
So we can add up all the troops killed, and we can add up all the troops wounded and maimed, but we will never know the number of troops who suffer with their war memories forever.
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