And not get blown away
Ain't nobody gonna
Steal this heart away
--When the War is Over,
PILE the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work—
I am the grass; I cover all
--Grass, Carl Sandburg
The number of soldiers being discharged from service for having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has increased almost 40% between 2005 and 2009 (Mental Illness Costing Military Soldiers). For now, these soldiers are lost between the cracks in their psyche:
Soldiers discharged for having both a mental and a physical disability increased 174% during the past five years from 1,397 in 2005 to 3,831 in 2009, according to the statistics.
Army Lt. Col. Rebecca Porter, an Army behavioral health official, says research shows "a clear relationship between multiple deployments and increased symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD."
In addition, 150,000 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have officially been diagnosed with PTSD; however, the number may be as high as 300,000. The perceived stigma attached to the diagnosis has kept many soldiers from seeking help, medical professionals say (PTSD: New Regs Will Make it Easier for Vets to Get Help.)
A recent study on violent dreams "frequently involve episodes in which an attacker must be fought off" shows a connection with later onset of mental illness, including Alzheimers (Violent Illness May Predict Illness in Advance.) While the study did not target PTSD patients, such violent/acting out dreams are a frequent symptom of the disorder. The implications are depressing.
It is quite simple: If our soldiers are exposed to long-term combat stress associated with stressful deployments while working for stressful organizations, then we must expect a great influx of PTSD cases. That's the good news.
The bad news is that the onset of clinical PTSD -- chronic and severe variety -- is often long-deferred, known to erupt decades after the precipitating events. So if the stats are trending up now, strap down your gear and tighten your helmet, for they will get worse as time goes on, even were the wars to stop today (which they will not.)
These men and women will be or are your co-workers, spouses and early responders. The ramifications of the damage wrought by the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) will ripple out for decades and generations. There is no tidy package in which to tie it up or armistice to hide behind for those who suffer war's lingering impact.
Sandburg wrote about the grass which would inexorably cover the earth's scars, but many humans will not regenerate so easily. Their grass is often a hard carapace of indifference or hostility -- a callous developed to protect the raw meat of the brain.
War does not end when the war is over.