Something To Say
As a veteran, we deal with these issues of war and peace all the time. Who suffers from war? What are the real and hidden costs of war?
The effects of war touch more than just the soldiers who fight. There’s poverty created by war and the economic sanctions of war. There’s the socioeconomic aspect — the majority of soldiers are from the lower level of the economic scale. The waste of money and resources is staggering. The corporations are supporting it because there’s money in waging war. There’s money in rebuilding after the war. Enforcing armed values in the globalization scheme is about exploitation.
The effects of war are far reaching. For the families of combatants, there’s long range psychological problems from the experience of war. It’s something that affects you for the rest of your life. Spiritually, when a soldier takes another life there’s a spiritual price to pay for that. The country does not bear that weight, the family does not bear that weight. The individual veteran bears that weight. Veterans suffer from this spiritually, emotionally, psychologically and physically. It is a burden you bear for the rest of your life. It’s something you learn as you get older because when you’re young and you’re over there, it’s like being in a frenzy all the time. You’re scared of dying, scared of killing, too. The result is that if you survive, eventually the effects of that come back to you.
There are hidden numbers and issues with every war. One hidden cost is the number of vets who suffer and die once they get back. 58,000 soldiers died in Vietnam, but over 100,000 died after returning from the war due to war-related injuries with physical, mental and emotional causes. Add to that the number of family members who suffer or whole families who break apart due to the illnesses of their veterans and a truer picture of the real costs of war begins to emerge.
How many American soldiers do most people think got killed in the Gulf War? A couple hundred? 230,000 vets have filed for medical help from the VA since returning from the Gulf War. There’s been over 10,000 veterans die as a result of that war. One factor is due to the effects of “depleted uranium” which is used in anti-tank missiles. Soldiers who are not properly protected against this hazard will absorb this toxic material which slowly poisons the body (not to mention the surrounding environment.) The cost to taxpayers to service these people through the VA is enormous and ongoing, yet the American people think it’s over.
And it’s not only human beings who are the casualties of war. We’re destroying the Earth with our bombing. The water, the land, the air and whole ecosystems are destroyed.
The cost of war is great. What is the cost for peace?
Glen Douglas is a Vietnam-era Army infantry veteran, a member of the Clarence Fitch chapter of Vietnam Vets Against the War and also a member of Veterans for Peace.
Listen to the Vets...
Veterans for Peace Statement of Purpose (http://www.veteransforpeace.org)
“We, having dutifully served our nation, do hereby affirm our greater responsibility to serve the cause of world peace and justice. Americans will be secure at home only when there is peace and justice abroad. We remain firmly committed to the abolition of war...We know the consequences of American foreign policy because once...so many of us carried it out. We find it sad that war seems so delightful, so often, to those that have no knowledge of it. We will proudly, and patriotically, continue to denounce war despite whatever misguided sense of euphoria supports it.”
Vietnam Vets Against the War (http://www.vvaw.org)
“We believe that service to our country and communities did not end when we were discharged. We remain committed to the struggle for peace and for social and economic justice for all people. We will continue to oppose senseless military adventures and to teach the real lessons of the Vietnam War. We will do all we can to prevent another generation from being put through a similar tragedy and we will continue to demand dignity and respect for veterans of all eras. This is real patriotism.”
Gulf War Veterans (http://www.veteransforcommonsense.org)
“We, the undersigned veterans of the Gulf War, seek to inject common sense into the debate over a possible U.S. war against Iraq by placing the debate in the context of safeguarding our liberty, constitutional values and our freedom. As veterans, we know firsthand the effects of war, and the meaning of sacrifice. We urge the examination of whether an invasion of Iraq would further destabilize the region, cause more terror attacks against the United States, distract us from the war against terror, or lead people to join anti-U.S. terrorist organizations.”