Category Archives: Afghanistan

VN vet study reaffirms PTSD is chronic

Latest print issue of VVA Veteran has results of the Vietnam Veterans Longitudinal Study of 2014, a followup to the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study of 1986. Both were funded by the VA.

The new study confirms the 1986 findings in that a majority of “Vietnam theater veterans,” presumably meaning those who served in-country “are mentally and physically healthy four or more decades after their warzone service.” Their average age is now 67 years old.

But “a significant number [about 14 percent] are suffering from persistent and chronic PTSD symptoms related to their experiences in the war.” And their rates of depression are “more than fifty times greater” than those who do not have PTSD. The PTSD also appears to be episodic, waxing and waning on its own cycle.

The study and its results are expected to be useful in anticipating the long-term needs of veterans of more recent campaigns, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

Via VVA Veteran.

The Christmas Truce

Historically, the Christmas Truce goes back to World War I and possibly earlier. But we had them in Viet Nam, too, though I only recall the one of 1969 when I was there.

Russ Wheat, an OCS classmate, recalls a ditty his rifle company used to sing about that time: “Jingle Bells, shotgun shells, VC in the grass, you can take your Christmas Truce and shove it da-da-da.”

Of course such truces made a certain sense in a European war, but none at all in an Asian one where the enemy not only did not celebrate Christmas but had few if any Christians. Likewise they didn’t “respect” the red crosses on the medevac birds, no more than the Taliban has in Afghanistan.

The Christmas Truce of 1969 was pure politics, consumption entirely for the home folks for whom the anti-war protests were becoming ferocious. It had little or no effect on us with the misfortune of having to fight the damn war.

New combat veterans deserve the attention

J.D. over at Mouth of the Brazos and I traded comments not long ago about how the whole Vietnam War, combat veterans like us, refugees and all, finally are on the shelf. It’s all mothballed news at best now.

I see it in the pitiful sales of my two books on the subject, which seem to have peaked at 164 for the Vietnam War short stories and 26 for the novel. Both have been outpaced by my Civil War novel (194) alone. And this year’s new Civil War history, now at 51 sales, has outrun the Vietnam novel and is on pace to eclipse the short stories as well. Not that my work is the best indicator of a trend, but it is one.

Neither J.D. or I created the political one-year combat tour of the Vietnam War. But neither of us would have liked to be in the position of the all-volunteer combat veterans now. Many of them already have served three or four years in combat assignments and the rise of ISIS suggests they have many more ahead of them. They already match the World War II generation which served for the duration.

All that occurred to me reading this WaPo piece about the 101st Airborne Division emplaning near their barracks at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for a recent flight to Afghanistan. The pundits are still trying to figure out what Wormtongue’s secretive administration intends to do with them. Whether they will guard facilities or patrol. If he even knows himself. He isn’t much of a planner.

It also occurred to me that nowadays when some sergeant addresses a group of soldiers as “ladies and gentlemen,” he’s not trying to be cute, as he was in our day when few women served and none were in combat. He means it quite literally. And both the ladies and the gentlemen deserve all of our attention now.

Waiting for Bowe

Amid all the cacophony about the alleged deserter the White House traded five al Queda bosses to get back, we’ve yet to hear from the man himself: Army PFC (when he was captured) now Sergeant (promoted in captivity) Bowe Bergdahl.

Wormtongue’s latest controversy arises, in part, from his Rose Garden presser welcoming home Bowe with his, ahem, eccentric parents. But it’s also due to the left’s adoration of anti-war soldiers like Bergdahl and its persistent military blindspot: “…its failure to comprehend the centrality of honor to military culture.”

I’m reminded of Marine PFC Robert Garwood who was brought home from Vietnam under a cloud of disgrace. His parents never got near the Rose Garden. His explanation of how he was captured and why other POWs thought he was a collaborator wasn’t very persuasive but at least we got his version to weigh against the others.

A military court eventually acquitted Garwood of desertion while convicting him of “communicating with the enemy” and ordered him dishonorably discharged. He later collaborated with two authors in an interesting book on his case, which remains controversial, at least in the Marine Corps.

We’re still waiting to hear from Bowe, and we should because there’s bound to be another side, his side, to this whole deal. Whether it will change any minds remains to be seen, but for now his silence is deafening.

UPDATE:  Oops, turns out ol’ Bowe, whom Obamalot contends served honorably, converted to Islam and declared himself a jihadi. Wonderful. Does Wormtongue ever tell the truth about anything?

Our uni-uniform Army

I have no patience with the fools who pass themselves off as Army generals these days. If they were at all competent there wouldn’t have been two (and counting) Fort Hood massacres.

The massacres likely occurred because some general or other refuses to have gate guards wand everyone who passes through. Ties up traffic you know. But it may also have something to do with the way everyone in the Army now dresses alike—laced desert boots and all.

Used to be you could tell the riflemen (not to mention the Airborne) from the clerks and the bottle washers.

Today there’s no obvious difference and you’d best believe the pogies (the c&bw boys and girls) like it just fine that way. Must give the military police pause, wondering who they’re dealing with.

My cousin-in-law, an Army dentist (he’s moved on to private practice now) really liked the way civilians in the groceries deferred to him as if he were a combat veteran of Iraq and/or Afghanistan. He looked like one. He did, mercifully, reconstruct the jaws of some of the ones who were seriously wounded over there, but he sure as hell didn’t fight with them.

Inspired by the latest Fort Hood massacre

You go climb every mountain.

Via Phase Line Birnam Wood

UPDATE:  The killer was a 34-year-old Spec 4. That’s a lot of years for such a low rank. He either joined late, never deserved promotion or got busted along the way.

And, no, I don’t think allowing non-police soldiers to carry loaded weapons on post is a good idea. Investing in a few metal-detector wands for every person and car that passes through the gates would be a better one.

History rhymes

Bush Jr.’s assault on the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 made perfect sense after their sanctuaried client Al Queda’s murderous work in Lower Manhattan a few months before.

Likewise our 2003 invasion of Iraq where dictator Saddam Hussein had the means, the motive and the opportunity to aid Al Q as well, though our leftist federal bureaucrats never could seem to find the proof of it.

More than a decade of largely-feckless political and military operations later, Bush’s leftist successor cut and ran from Iraq and is hobbling what’s left of the American military in Afghanistan.

As pathetic as it all is, as Darkwater shows, this history actually rhymes—with Rudyard Kipling’s 1917 poem MesopotamiaKipling even called our aftermath as the leftist federal bureaucrats, their president and lifelong pols like Hillary Clinton continue their lucrative careers:

“Our dead shall not return to us while Day and Night divide –
Never while the bars of sunset hold.
But the idle-minded overlings who quibbled while they died,
Shall they thrust for high employments as of old?”

You betcha. Their leftist media pals who likewise don’t believe in military service will continue to cover for them and the American dead of Iraq and Afghanistan will be forgotten by all but their families. Some of the crippled ones can even look forward to being assaulted on American streets.

I hope the volunteers of 2001 and 2003 and subsequently will impart the lesson they learned to a new generation of would-be warriors: our government cannot be trusted and joining the micro-managed American military—for any reason other than to repel a direct attack on the homeland—is only slow-motion suicide.

Via Darkwater at Phase Line Birnam Wood.