PTSD… is a bitch

( – promoted by buhdydharma )

Most who know me know it’s not often I am left speechless at some piece of news or a story illuminating the depths of amorality to which the people who created the Debacle in Iraq have fallen, or perhaps in their case have actually risen, as it may well be that they had to have been as low or lower than the lowest slime mold to have conceived and executed their plans in the first place.

But it leaves me nearly unable to focus my thoughts and words to occasionally read the writing of the victims of their propaganda and manipulations of reality.

In any rational world George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, along with many others, would be sitting in prisoners docks now, and would have been for some time already.

This was posted this morning at six AM at OOIBC by Decline and Fall, a civilian currently working for a defense contractor in Iraq. In Fallujah as far as I know.

I’m reposting it here without D&F’s knowledge, though I doubt he will have any objection. I’ll let him know I’ve done so after I post it here. He crossposted it from his own blog, Decline and Fall.

It might be a nice idea to leave some comments there as well, if unlike me you are not left completely speechless by it. His full post is on the flip here….


…is a bitch.

I haven’t been officially diagnosed (that will have to wait until I get back stateside, in August) but the signs are all there: obsessive thoughts about horrific scenes I witnessed in Iraq, anxiety at the mere mention of anything having to do with that war, extreme guilt at having willingly participated in such a colossally wicked venture, sleepless nights, mood swings, constant fidgeting, and the strong proclivity to self-medicate by any means necessary. I have good days and bad days, but they’ve been mostly bad, and certainly worse than they were when I blogged about them before.

The worst for me is the guilt and the anger. Guilt for what I was a part of and anger that such a war could happen, or that people could still believe there is anything remotely positive about our military presence in Mesopotamia. As Thoreau put it so ably at Unqualified Offerings:

It outrages me more than I can describe that there are still apologists for this. It outrages me more than I can describe that there are people who can look at this and say “Yep, we sure made the right choice there!” And it outrages me more than I can describe that the people who look at this and see no evil are actually taken seriously. They are invited to speak and write in serious venues. They are warmly thanked for offering their amoral apologies. They are allowed to remain in power rather than impeached, convicted, removed, and stripped of privilege. They are able to walk down the street undisturbed when they should be cursed and pelted with trash. They should be sprawled on a sidewalk next the McPherson Square Metro Station, hoping to cadge enough quarters to enjoy the rare treat of laundering the vomit out of the only shirt they own, praying all the while that decent people do not recognize them beneath the matted beard and tangled hair.

In a real republic Bush would have been drummed out of office by now and the last thing any major candidate for the Presidency would say is that we might be in Iraq for another 100 years. Just thinking about it makes me so… anxious. Every time I hear a war apologist speak I am overcome with grief and it’s a good hour before my mind’s back on track. This is my war casualty: a complete inability to escape from that place for longer than a couple of hours.

Seeking mindless distraction, I went to see Ironman the other day, and boy was that a mistake. The predictably evil defense contractor (played by Jeff Bridges, who always looks like Jeff Lebowski to me, which is a bit disconcerting) reminded me so much of my old boss in the war-profiteering biz–warm and friendly on the outside, cold and heartless on the inside–that I spent half the movie trying to will away my flashbacks, then spent the next several hours after the movie drinking alone in my apartment. Such an innocuous reference from such a banal movie shouldn’t produce such a powerful reaction, but such is life after war, for me at least. Suffice it to say I won’t be watching Rendition or In the Valley of Elah any time soon.

So there it is: I’m pretty messed up in the head right now, and there’s not a lot I can do but try to work through it. It’s not like there are VA programs for DoD Contractors with PTSD. That’s why the federal government loves contractors so much: there’s no long-term commitment. A servicemember has all those whiny legislators demanding benefits (and overriding Bush’s veto… we hope) for the troops, but us temps, we’re on our own. Now that I’m not working for the company that paid me to go to Iraq, I’m nobody’s problem but my own. Hell, I don’t even have medical insurance any more. I swear to FSM I’m moving to Canada or Denmark some day.

Discovering that your soul has a price isn’t a pleasant experience, but I’m the guy who signed on the dotted line, so it’s my cross to bear. I wish I had read the fine print.

Cross-posted at Decline and Fall.


Skip to comment form

    • Edger on May 27, 2008 at 17:00

    I can’t find my own.

  1. After these long 5+ years, seems they’ve all been said already.

    But a hearing, a knowing and a broken heart shared is what we have to offer.

    Oh yeah, and this to all those responsible!!

  2. not to enable the warlords, whoever they are, in any political party, through our action or inaction.

    National Assembly

    • OPOL on May 27, 2008 at 18:08

    In any rational world George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, along with many others, would be sitting in prisoners docks now, and would have been for some time already.

    This reality is enough to give anyone PTSD.

  3. That’s what makes it so heart breaking, along with his actual current living conditions.

    Thank you for this, Edger!

  4. to write about it.  That’s an improvement from drinking alone in his apartment.  But having to deal with PTSD on his own has got to be, as you say, a bitch.  We like to think the idea of the Iraq War was never “in fine print” and was always a montrous disaster in the making.  But that wasn’t evident to everybody at the time.  Hope he can work through it.

    • Zwoof on May 28, 2008 at 04:46

    When I returned from Vietnam in Feb. 1970, I immediately jumped back into civilian life and rarely gave my experiences a second thought other than protesting the war in general. I went to school under the GI Bill and relocated to Florida.  Very few people even knew I was a Vet and that was fine.

    It was not until 1989 that I started remembering some of the stuff I’d gone through.  I had totally repressed these memories.  All it took to bring them back was watching 1 program on The Discovery Channel about helicopters.   Since I worked online from my home office, no one really missed me when I closed the drapes on the beautiful view of The Gulf of Mexico and started ordering pizza by phone.  My neighbors thought I had moved away.

    I eventually had so many problems that I went to the VA and entered treatment.  At the time the VA was very helpful and I was eventually awarded a disability.

    These new soldiers and contractors should be made aware that they may not experience PTSD symptoms until years afterward.  Hopefully, the VA will be there for them after the Bush Cronies have departed.

    • Edger on May 28, 2008 at 04:57

    I doubt there are many people nearby him that D&F can unload feelings on, and blogs may be the only outlet available…

  5. Edger, for posting this, and all of the commenters for your kind words and the fact that you give a shit. It really does mean a lot to know that I am not alone in this. I’ve had a lot of friends with PTSD to varying degrees and I can tell you that as debilitating as this can get at times, I’m lucky to have a case that isn’t so extreme. Too many veterans and others have committed suicide when their symptoms got too bad. I’ve been fortunate to never have entertained such a thought.

    • kj on May 30, 2008 at 14:35


    • RiaD on May 30, 2008 at 14:53

    YOU‘re the Best!!!


  6. PTSD comes and goes in waves….or tides.

    Stretches of peace and quiet and then suddenly rising up, unstoppable and boiling over….causing a rage and subsiding into a deep depression.

    World War 2 vets had their own forms….depending on the battle and experiences.

    My great Uncle was hospitalized for “shell shock” in WW1. He rarely left the hospital and died in the 60s. All I know about his “condition” is that he “came home” for a short time to live with his brother(my grandpa) and scared my Grandmother so badly that he was quickly returned. It must have been in the 20s.

    My husband was in Korea’s Second War in 68/69. He used to have nightmares that were extremely vivid. Almost like being asleep with eyes wide open and insensitive to anyone else’s presence!

    Take care.

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