Independent Christian Voice

Saturday

War is hell: The unreasonable toll of an unnecessary Iraq quagmire (Part 2)

Like I said in my first "War is hell" post, the toll of our actions in Iraq is much more extensive than most people look at. Not only is there the death toll or the forever-maimed toll or the mental and psychological toll or the financial toll, there is also the far-reaching, long-lasting toll on American families. This toll forever changes (and ruins) the lives of both immediate and extended family members — a bitter irony with a "pro-family" administration. When deciding if a war is worth fighting, we must add up the entire toll and decide if the cost is just too high. In this case — in Iraq — it absolutely was/is. Stars and Stripes has a report looking at the oft-unreported toll:
Army researchers saw alcohol misuse rise from 13 percent among soldiers to 21 percent one year after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, underscoring the continuing stress of deployment for some troops. In post-deployment reassessment data completed in July, researchers also saw soldiers with anger and aggression issues increase from 11 percent to 22 percent after deployment. Those planning to divorce their spouse rose from 9 percent to 15 percent after time spent in the combat zone. And that's just the start of the problems, according to military family support groups. "At the end of the day, wounded servicemembers have wounded families," said Joyce Wessel Raezer, government relations director for the National Military Family Association. "More must be done to link servicemembers and families with the services they need and the information about PTSD and other mental health issues." [...] Dr. Charles Figley, director of Florida State University's Traumatology Institute, said those types of stress problems, if left untreated, can become more serious health issues like PTSD. He said more needs to be done to fund mental health care programs for the returning troops. He also predicted thousands of veterans in dire need of mental health services "another Katrina-type disaster as these people leave the service and flood the VA" if more resources aren�t made available to servicemembers and their families.
The numbers are staggering. At the moment, there are roughly 150,000 soldiers serving in Iraq. A 15% divorce rate would mean 22500 families split; multiply that by the number of people directly affected — the two spouses, children (2), both sets of parents to those spouses (4), siblings of the spouses (4)... in this example (where I guessed a reasonably representative number — some families have no kids but more siblings, or no siblings, but more kids, etc.), that's an estimated 270,000 Americans' lives directly impacted, which doesn't include close friends who bear the pain with the divorcing spouses and the extended family members affected by a divorce. That's just for those now serving; multiply that by all those who've ever served in Iraq. Although these numbers aren't pulled from a scientific survey, they give you a rough estimate of the kind of numbers we're talking about. Was/is it worth it? Yes, we have indeed removed a brutal dictator from power, but we've replaced one bad situation with a potentially worse situation — an emerging civil war where more people will die than by Saddam's hands. Our original rationale: WMDs and direct link to al Qaeda, which has been proven false. Our subsequent rationale: bringing democracy to Iraqi people and establishing a democratic foothold in the Middle East; are we going to be better off if the Shiite majority democratically installs an Iranian-style government? So the question boils down to this: yes, it is a noble goal to spread democracy around the world, especially to countries with brutal dictators, but does their come a point where the cost to Americans is just too high? I say yes, and I say we've past that point a long time ago. It's easy to sit in an ivory tower (or White House) and lead such "noble" crusades when you don't have any personal stake in it — like a daughter or other family member. Americans should take a hard look at the total cost of this war: was/is it worth it?

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