Friday, October 27, 2006

Happy Homecomings?

The Globe did a story on the 450 Reservists that returned from Iraq on Thursday. A Globe reporter said in a video clip that “their homecoming was complete.” But, was it really complete? Doesn’t the government or somebody in the military have a responsibility to follow up on how these marines are functioning in society after war times?

I have known a few soldiers that have returned from Iraq who are in a complete state of chaos, and unable to move forward from their traumatic experiences on the front lines. We certainly should celebrate their homecomings and thank them for the amazing work they have done protecting this country, but we should also make sure these men are functioning and getting help if they need it.

The cheering shouldn't stop when they come home. We need to take care of our soldiers.

It troubles me to watch the footage of these happy reunions and then hear about stories of ex marines who in very extreme and limited cases go as far as killing their wives and themselves because they have mental problems stemming from war trauma.

The Colorado Springs Gazette reported that a Fort Carson soldier who returned from Iraq in August of last year killed his wife and then himself. This happened only nine days after his homecoming in which according to the Gazette, “Stephen S. Sherwood, 35, came home to cheering crowds at a welcoming ceremony at the post near Colorado Springs.”

It is also troubling to watch cinematic depictions of men who can’t separate themselves from war in films such as Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 “Apocalypse Now.” This remake of the Vietnam War portrays soldiers who simply can’t re-integrate back into society because they identify themselves just as soldiers. Another film that shows this is Michael Cimino’s 1978 “The Deer Hunter.”

These examples are fictional accounts of men permanently scarred by the Vietnam War. Iraq is a completely different war in a different era, but we still have to deal with the issues of taking care of our soldiers when they come back to us. How much attention has been given to this subject? Am I overacting?

To watch the video clip that corresponds with the Globe story, click here.
To see the "Homecoming at Devens" Globe slideshow, click here.

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