• From the PRT Diaspora: PTSD is Real

    March 15, 2013

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Embassy/State, Military

    Because of this blog, I occasionally receive emails from people who also participated in the reconstruction programs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most writers are civilians, a few military. With the writer’s permission, I publish some of the letters here.

    Today’s I publish to call attention to the very real issue of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All of us suffer from it, some more than others, some more aware of it than others. For me, I benefited from good care (which I had to pay for myself but it was worth it). I have also found most veterans’ groups I’ve run across welcoming– it takes all of 30 seconds to establish that we civilians experienced most of what they did and have more in common than we have apart. To be frank, writing the book and blog are also part of my catharsis. To anyone out there suffering, get help. It makes things better. Anyway, here’s the letter.

    Dear Peter,

    I’ve been reading your blog since its inception and ordered your book while serving with a PRT in Afghanistan. While devouring your book in my “hooch”, I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Everything you reported on in Iraq was happening AGAIN in Afghanistan. You actually saved me the time of writing my own book “How I helped lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the Afghan people”. I felt as if I had found the Holy Grail and ran around my PRT encouraging others to read We Meant Well. My State Department colleague was less than thrilled and was busy bidding on her next assignment while my PRT military colleagues were so burned out (due to multiple deployments) that they either didn’t care or knew that in true military tradition they were there to follow orders and helpless to do anything about the hellhole we found ourselves in. I was stunned that no one appreciated what I had found. They wanted me to quit talking and just do my time (i.e..stop being a trouble maker). Some members of the PRT were in denial and believed COIN was working while others knew that we were failing and didn’t need your experience to remind them.

    It has taken me more than a year to write to you as I’ve been dealing with a great deal of anger and feared I would send you a 10 page rant outlining the insanity of wasted lives and resources that I witnessed during my 12 month deployment. I was offered additional time in Afghanistan but declined. I was afraid my already mild PTSD would be completely unmanageable after another deployment. Our well-deserving veterans are fortunate to have the VA to access once they come home (although I’m told the waiting list for mental health services is horrendous) and find other vets to talk to. These wars have now created yet another fine mess. There are now well over 200,000 people (from various nations) which include former diplomats, civilians who worked directly for the USG, contractors, NGO aid workers and even journalists that come home to no support whatsoever. I can only imagine the broken marriages, broken homes, alcoholism, isolation and other social ills that plague those with full blown PTSD and TBI. To my knowledge, no one is writing about that or even acknowledging it exists outside the military.

    Unlike your “no experience necessary” chapter, I did have years of international development experience. But, I saw plenty that fell into the “no experience necessary” category and it was frightening. Not to mention the out of shape and the overweight (of all ages) who could not get in and out of an MRAP without assistance. No wonder civ-mil had its problems. This is all so terribly sad. I’m still trying to figure out a way to move forward after becoming so disillusioned with my government and the military. It’s now taken me three months to send this.

    In addition to expressing gratitude for your book, I’m also writing to you in memory of the USAID officer, serving in Kunar Province, who was killed in August 2012 (link added). I find it appalling that his death and those of his three military colleagues got about 10 seconds of TV news coverage in the states. If anyone tells me that they died for my freedom, I may seriously lose it. From what I can conclude, they died for the profits of defense contractors, the careers of some high ranking military officials, the pockets of crooked Afghans, and most of all for self serving politicians and diplomats. My freedom had nothing to do with it. You tried to tell them but they didn’t listen. Instead, they tried to kill the messenger. Without knowing it, you’ve been a good friend these past 21 months and I apologize for taking so long to say thank you. Best of luck as you continue to fight for justice.

    I meant well,

    Name Withheld by Request



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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      The feeling of disillusionment often is embarrassing and troubling. The goal of all humans should be to not have illusions. Some of us- due to pure serendipity- work on such a goal earlier than others.

      03/15/13 3:55 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      2

      John, the real “illusions” are the reason so many young, naive kids join the military. The hubris of macho indoctrination among young American males is seen everywhere. For me, reading this letter notwithstanding, it should be standing operating procedure at all Military recruitment centers, to thrust these young men and women’s faces into the current reality of war, by requiring them to view a movie of vaporized, mutilated and blown to smithereen bodies by the thousands,… PRIOR to signing their lives away. After all, here is the living proof…
      quote:” If anyone tells me that they died for my freedom, I may seriously lose it. From what I can conclude, they died for the profits of defense contractors, the careers of some high ranking military officials, the pockets of crooked Afghans, and most of all for self serving politicians and diplomats. My freedom had nothing to do with it.”unquote

      Maybe they might have second thoughts, especially if they learn the fact they that “fighting for our freedoms” is complete, unadulterated bullshit.
      On the other hand, should they not, well maybe this would give them a clue….

      quote:”in true military tradition they were there to follow orders and helpless to do anything about the hellhole we found ourselves in.unquote

      03/15/13 5:43 PM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...

      3

      ya know, if anything, the it’s the historical USG and Corporate acts against foreign sovereign control of their own destinies, that have for decades created the so called “terrorists”. As far as I’m concerned, the REAL terroist now is the USG, as those who struck a blow against this country were only retaliating for a century’s worth of Corporate and multi nation military pillage and rule. Insurgents indeed. Another fucking USG euphemism for sovereign patriots.
      Make no mistake. Should current events conclude with civil war, those who would fight for return to US Constitutional rule of law and the Bill of Rights, would indeed be labled “insurgents” if not “terrorists”. Well, I have news for the USG…you are are now competing with King George the 3rd for the title of Tyrant. And you KNOW what the REAL patriots did…after all..they gave you your so called “legitimacy”..and YOU SQUANDERED IT.

      03/15/13 6:24 PM | Comment Link

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