On September 16, CBS “SIXTY MINUTES” reported that 300,000 post-9/11 combat veterans now suffer from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, where it’s said “your brain slowly dies.” This is the condition that has led former professional football players to commit suicide. The combat vets got theirs from exposure to explosions.
This is in addition to our almost 7000 killed in battle, the more than 50,000 wounded, and the one in five with PTSD, of the two and a half million who we’ve sent to war so far. And after seventeen years of constant war, our stated enemy the Taliban control as much of Afghanistan as they did when we first invaded, according to CNN.
Our grunts also fight on in Iraq, Syria, and new places like Niger, which we only learn about when we have casualties. Still the VA hospital system has 10,000 unfilled job vacancies, mostly doctors. Everyone reading this knows someone who knows a traumatized veteran. Twenty still commit suicide every day, ending their suffering, but passing the pain on to their families.
Not learning from Vietnam gave us today’s endless, winless wars. With no draft and only 1% of us in the military, these wars are now so slowly destroying our democratic values, that we hardly notice. Trump is just a symptom of this. Blue collar white Americans who once craved freedom now long for his authoritarianism. We’re like a frog in a pot of cold water with the heat only turned up a few degrees every hour. Will we hop out before we’re cooked?