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Veterans As Refuse

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  • Veterans As Refuse

    OPINION: Editorial

    June 23, 2007

    Veterans as refuse

    Why do they make up a quarter of the nation's homeless?

    There are more homeless veterans in the United States than active-duty troops deployed in Iraq, including those deployed as part of the "surge."

    "We are a nation that will keep its commitments to those who have risked their lives for our freedom," President Bush said last Veterans Day. He urged veterans to wear their medals that day, and Americans to walk up to them "and shake a hand and give a hug, and give a word of thanks." Would they do that with a homeless veteran? Would he?

    Perhaps the exact route from service and possible combat abroad to streets, parks and bus stations back home is intractable. How the Army turns individuals into soldiers, what happens to soldiers in combat, and what the Army does to soldiers once they're discharged, isn't intractable at all. It reads like a blueprint for social dislocation.

    To prepare soldiers for combat, the Army demolishes the individual and reconstructs him as a killing machine. It makes no secret about the method or the goal. That's what basic training is about. In combat zones, soldiers adapt to sets of rules that have a coherence all their own but no application in the civilian world. What soldiers experience in combat is a life-changing experience severe enough that a third of soldiers returning from combat will develop mental-health issues such as post traumatic stress disorder, suicidal tendencies, and/or an inability to cope with the "normal" life they once knew, including family, friends, spouses. After so many years' experience with war zones and veterans (25 million as of 2006), you'd expect the Army to have developed the means and will to deal with its returning soldiers.

    Rest of article here,