The Real Price of War
By Ted Folkert
April 15, 2012
It is virtually impossible to keep a dry eye and a dry nose as you read Nicholas Kristof’s “A Veteran’s Death, a Nation’s Shame” and Timothy Grucza’s “Good Night Ryan” in the New York Times today:
The right-wingers, who think they are so tough, like to say: “well, they volunteered, that is what they signed up for.”
I beg to differ. That is not what they signed up for. They didn’t sign up to kill or be killed. They didn’t sign up to be sent to the hell hole of the Earth, the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, to carry on a mission that is thankless and inexplicable. They didn’t sign up to be the hunter and the hunted for year after year and tour after tour of duty in a territory that is impossible to determine why anyone would want to fight for it. And above all, it is a thankless job while they are there and a thankless job when they get home, if they are so lucky to get home alive. It is the furthest thing from the minds of most of us who are safe and warm at home, as we skim across the headlines that depict the horror that these brave kids are experiencing.
I have never experienced warfare, but I was in the military long enough to remember that it removes you from society for a period of time. It takes you out of touch with the world you have always known, the safety and security of your nation, your state and your city. It takes you out of touch from the warmth and comfort of your family, your loved ones, your friends, your society – and for these kids, for an extensive period of time and miserable conditions. And then they come back physically debilitated and mentally scarred, if not from stress disorder, from brain trauma, suffered in this modern warfare of an explosion a minute. That must be the most miserable living conditions one can imagine.
And for this loving mother in Kristof’s article and Grucza’s article, who had two sons facing what we really can’t describe or feel the true impact of, we tell her we have a 6 month waiting list for treatment for suicidal conditions as she watches one son die because he just couldn’t stand the unbearable pain any longer. This is just one kid of thousands.
This story has been written many times with different names and the same outcome. When will we stop to consider the real costs of war – it isn’t the trillions of dollars wasted on the military industrial complex that the rich and powerful love so much, it is the lives of our poor kids who the rich send to fight the wars they start. It seems that the least we could do is take care of these faceless, nameless warriors after we bring them home.
That is the real price of war and a price that we should think about is an election year such as this. This is our opportunity to get involved in the conversation and the cure, if we are willing to take the time and express our opinion and elect those who will deal this tragic attitude that we have as a nation about the value of human life and dignity.