Iraq War Veterans “Last Words”

“I Am Sorry That It Has Come to This”: A Soldier’s Last Words

Daniel   Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was part of Task Force   Lightning, an intelligence unit. In 2004-2005, he was mainly assigned to a   Tactical Human-Intelligence Team (THT) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he ran more   than 400 combat missions as a machine gunner in the turret of a Humvee,   interviewed countless Iraqis ranging from concerned citizens to community   leaders and and government officials, and interrogated dozens of insurgents   and terrorist suspects. In 2006-2007, Daniel worked with Joint Special   Operations Command (JSOC) through his former unit in Mosul   where he ran the Northern    Iraq Intelligence    Center. His official   role was as a senior analyst for the Levant (Lebanon,   Syria, Jordan, Israel,   and part of Turkey).   Daniel suffered greatly from PTSD and had been diagnosed with traumatic brain   injury and several other war-related conditions. On June 10, 2013, Daniel   wrote the following letter to his family before taking his life. Daniel was   30 years old. His wife and family have given permission to publish it.

By Daniel Somers

I am sorry that it has come to this.

The fact is, for as long as I can remember my motivation for getting up every day has been so that you would not have to bury me. As things have continued to get worse, it has become clear that this alone is not a sufficient reason to carry on. The fact is, I am not getting better, I am not going to get better, and I will most certainly deteriorate further as time goes on. From a logical standpoint, it is better to simply end things quickly and let any repercussions from that play out in the short term than to drag things out into the long term.

You will perhaps be sad for a time, but over time you will forget and begin to carry on. Far better that than to inflict my growing misery upon you for years and decades to come, dragging you down with me. It is because I love you that I can not do this to you. You will come to see that it is a far better thing as one day after another passes during which you do not have to worry about me or even give me a second thought. You will find that your world is better without me in it.

I really have been trying to hang on, for more than a decade now. Each day has been a testament to the extent to which I cared, suffering unspeakable horror as quietly as possible so that you could feel as though I was still here for you. In truth, I was nothing more than a prop, filling space so that my absence would not be noted. In truth, I have already been absent for a long, long time.

My body has become nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems. The illness I have has caused me pain that not even the strongest medicines could dull, and there is no cure. All day, every day a screaming agony in every nerve ending in my body. It is nothing short of torture. My mind is a wasteland, filled with visions of incredible horror, unceasing depression, and crippling anxiety, even with all of the medications the doctors dare give. Simple things that everyone else takes for granted are nearly impossible for me. I can not laugh or cry. I can barely leave the house. I derive no pleasure from any activity. Everything simply comes down to passing time until I can sleep again. Now, to sleep forever seems to be the most merciful thing.

You must not blame yourself. The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from. I take some pride in that, actually, as to move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath in my mind. These things go far beyond what most are even aware of.

To force me to do these things and then participate in the ensuing coverup is more than any government has the right to demand. Then, the same government has turned around and abandoned me. They offer no help, and actively block the pursuit of gaining outside help via their corrupt agents at the DEA. Any blame rests with them.

Beyond that, there are the host of physical illnesses that have struck me down again and again, for which they also offer no help. There might be some progress by now if they had not spent nearly twenty years denying the illness that I and so many others were exposed to. Further complicating matters is the repeated and severe brain injuries to which I was subjected, which they also seem to be expending no effort into understanding. What is known is that each of these should have been cause enough for immediate medical attention, which was not rendered.

Lastly, the DEA enters the picture again as they have now managed to create such a culture of fear in the medical community that doctors are too scared to even take the necessary steps to control the symptoms. All under the guise of a completely manufactured “overprescribing epidemic,” which stands in stark relief to all of the legitimate research, which shows the opposite to be true. Perhaps, with the right medication at the right doses, I could have bought a couple of decent years, but even that is too much to ask from a regime built upon the idea that suffering is noble and relief is just for the weak.

However, when the challenges facing a person are already so great that all but the weakest would give up, these extra factors are enough to push a person over the edge.

Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook, every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the state of the union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic, but rather by his own system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.

It leaves us to where all we have to look forward to is constant pain, misery, poverty, and dishonor. I assure you that, when the numbers do finally drop, it will merely be because those who were pushed the farthest are all already dead.

And for what? Bush’s religious lunacy? Cheney’s ever growing fortune and that of his corporate friends? Is this what we destroy lives for

Since then, I have tried everything to fill the void. I tried to move into a position of greater power and influence to try and right some of the wrongs. I deployed again, where I put a huge emphasis on saving lives. The fact of the matter, though, is that any new lives saved do not replace those who were murdered. It is an exercise in futility.

Then, I pursued replacing destruction with creation. For a time this provided a distraction, but it could not last. The fact is that any kind of ordinary life is an insult to those who died at my hand. How can I possibly go around like everyone else while the widows and orphans I created continue to struggle? If they could see me sitting here in suburbia, in my comfortable home working on some music project they would be outraged, and rightfully so.

I thought perhaps I could make some headway with this film project, maybe even directly appealing to those I had wronged and exposing a greater truth, but that is also now being taken away from me. I fear that, just as with everything else that requires the involvement of people who can not understand by virtue of never having been there, it is going to fall apart as careers get in the way.

The last thought that has occurred to me is one of some kind of final mission. It is true that I have found that I am capable of finding some kind of reprieve by doing things that are worthwhile on the scale of life and death. While it is a nice thought to consider doing some good with my skills, experience, and killer instinct, the truth is that it isn’t realistic. First, there are the logistics of financing and equipping my own operation, then there is the near certainty of a grisly death, international incidents, and being branded a terrorist in the media that would follow. What is really stopping me, though, is that I simply am too sick to be effective in the field anymore. That, too, has been taken from me.

Thus, I am left with basically nothing. Too trapped in a war to be at peace, too damaged to be at war. Abandoned by those who would take the easy route, and a liability to those who stick it out—and thus deserve better. So you see, not only am I better off dead, but the world is better without me in it

This is what brought me to my actual final mission. Not suicide, but a mercy killing. I know how to kill, and I know how to do it so that there is no pain whatsoever. It was quick, and I did not suffer. And above all, now I am free. I feel no more pain. I have no more nightmares or flashbacks or hallucinations. I am no longer constantly depressed or afraid or worried

I am free.

I ask that you be happy for me for that. It is perhaps the best break I could have hoped for. Please accept this and be glad for me.

Daniel Somers

The Death of Daniel Somers

By Ron Paul

I am reading the heartbreaking suicide note of Daniel Somers, aUS combat veteran who spent several years fighting inIraq. Mr. Somers was only 30 years old when he took his own life, after being tormented by the horrific memories of what he experienced inIraq.  He wrote: 

“The simple truth is this: During my first deployment, I was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity. Though I did not participate willingly, and made what I thought was my best effort to stop these events, there are some things that a person simply can not come back from.”

Many who shout the loudest that we must “support the troops” urge sending them off to unwinnable and undeclared wars in which there is no legitimate US interest. The US military has been abused by those who see military force as a first resort rather than the last resort and only in self-defense. This abuse has resulted in a generation of American veterans facing a life sentence in the prison of tortured and deeply damaged minds as well as broken bodies.

The numbers sadly tell the story: more military suicides than combat deaths in 2012, some 22 military veterans take their lives every day, nearly 30 percent of veterans treated by the VA have PTSD.

We should be saddened but not shocked when we see the broken men and women return from battles overseas. We should be angry with those who send them to suffer and die in unnecessary wars. We should be angry with those who send them to kill so many people overseas for no purpose whatsoever. We should be afraid of the consequences of such a foolish and dangerous foreign policy. We should demand an end to the abuse of military members and a return to a foreign policy that promotes peace and prosperity instead of war and poverty. Source

Over 8 thousand US war veterans, take their own lives a year.

To make matters even worse Victims of Sexual Assault also tend to take their own lives. Victims are scarred for life.

They too, are left with a nightmare to deal with.

Out of fear many Sexual Assaults, are never reported.

One must also remember, that those perpetrators, will and have, gone on to Sexually Assault victims from the countries they are stationed in.

That is not new and has been happening for years, as far back as I can remember. Apparently in Vietnam it was borderline considered Stand procedure. That was part of the un-written, code of conduct.

That information is from Vietnam war veterans, I have spoken to and the Winter Soldier testimony of that era.

Published on May 8, 2013

http://www.democracynow.org – A shocking new report by the Pentagon has found that 70 sexual assaults may be taking place within the U.S. military every day. The report estimates there were 26,000 sex crimes committed in 2012, a jump of 37 percent since 2010. Most of the incidents were never reported. The findings were released two days after the head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention unit, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski, was arrested for sexual assault. We air highlights from Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on military sexual assault and speak with Anu Bhagwati, executive director and co-founder of Service Women’s Action Network. “The numbers are outrageous and I think we’ve reached a tipping point,” Bhagwati says. “The American public is furious.”

Suicide Data Report, 2012

Related

Why: War in Iraq and Afghanistan

War Veteran Jesse Huff Commits suicide  outside VA Hospital

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

What I Learned in Afghanistan – About the   United States

War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

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Published in: on June 27, 2013 at 12:58 pm  Comments Off on Iraq War Veterans “Last Words”  
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200,000 War Veterans homeless in US

January 16 2009
Glantz: ‘We’re going to be looking at an increase in those statistics’

200,000 war veterans homeless in US

300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans file disability claims with US federal government.

PACIFICA

For six years of war in Iraq, the Bush administration has done absolutely nothing to take care of the hundreds of thousands of wounded veterans coming home, said Aaron Glantz, a journalist who has been covering the stories of US military vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We’ve had people brought into the VA, turned away, who have committed suicide after coming back from the war with post-traumatic stress disorder.

We’ve had people redeployed to Iraq, even after they were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

We have 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans coming home with traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage.

We have 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who have filed disability claims with the federal government,” Glantz told Democracy Now! on Thursday.
“In many cases, there is no medical services at all, because remember that many people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan come from rural communities where the VA doesn’t even have a hospital,” he explained.
There are 200,000 homeless war veterans in the United States.
“On every night, 200,000 people who have put on the uniform and served this country sleep homeless on the streets,” said Glantz.
“Imagine that you come home from Iraq with post-traumatic stress disorder, a mental wound, or traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage often caused by a roadside bomb. The first thing that you have to do just to get in the door at the VA is to fill out a twenty-six-page form where you substantiate exactly how you were wounded, where you get letters of support from your battle buddies, from your commanders. You subpoena your own Army records, often with the help of your congressperson. And you present to the VA a gigantic claim folder, which they then sit on for an extended period of time. And that’s just to get in the door.

So we take our veterans when they’re most wounded and most vulnerable and exploit them by making them fill out a mound of paperwork just to get in the door,” noted Glantz.
“If you served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and you come home and you say that you have PTSD, that the VA should assume that you got that in the war, not from a auto accident, not from some experience growing up, but perhaps your experience seeing your buddies killed or your experience killing an innocent civilian, that those might be the incidences that caused you to develop a post-traumatic stress disorder,” he explained.
But some problems date back way back to 1991.
“We are seventeen years after the Persian Gulf War of 1991, and veterans of that war are still fighting to get disability compensation and healthcare. And for the last seventeen years, up until about two months ago, the VA had said that Gulf War syndrome simply didn’t exist, and they called it ‘undiagnosed illness’. And one problem with that is if you call it undiagnosed illness, then there’s no way to treat it, because you’re pretty much throwing up your hands,” said Glantz.
“I think another question that we should be asking is, what is the ‘Gulf War illness’ of the war that we’re involved in right now?

Is it our troops’ exposure to depleted uranium, for example?

Is it our troops—the pills that our troops were forced to take before they went into this war?

Might those things have long-term effects on our Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans?

Shouldn’t we get ahead of the curve this time and not wait until seventeen years after the war to begin to look at how to treat and compensate people who served in it?” Asked Glantz.
“We can’t forget about the 1.8 million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who are coming back into our communities. And if we don’t deal with this now, we’re going to be looking at an increase in those statistics.”

Source

Well maybe the new president will take care of them.

Bush did everything including “cutting their health care” to help them. He helped as many as possible onto the streets. George was extremely helpful.

Nothing like being thrown in the trash, after serving your country.

Just another part of the Bush legacy.

Vietnam war vets were also treated badly. Many of them also ended up homeless.

The US has never taken good care of those who served.

They should be ashamed of this considering, these people put their lives on the line, to serve their country. But that is the American way. Has been for years.  Will it change with the new President,  maybe, maybe not.  They never really cared enough before to change anything so why would they now?  War Vets are disposable, as far as the US government is concerned. Like a Dixie Cup. Just throw them away, after they have served their purpose.

This is of course a “Human Rights Violation” under “UN LAW”.

Traumatic brain injuries the signature wound of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

Gov’t Study Concludes “Gulf War Syndrome” is Legitimate Condition, Affects 1 in 4 Vets

Home is where the healing occurs for these soldiers

By KATE WILTROUT
December 8, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH
Spc. Edward Bennett helped detect and detonate roadside bombs in Iraq for almost a year before he realized something was wrong.

Dizzy spells. Memory lapses. Slight coordination problems.

A brain scan revealed that Bennett suffered from traumatic brain injury, one of the signature combat wounds of the Iraq war.

Bennett, a member of the Virginia National Guard’s 237th Engineer Battalion, was flown to Germany in June for treatment, then spent two months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Now, even though he’s still on active duty and getting treatment, Bennett, 22, is once again living at home with his wife in Virginia Beach.

He is assigned to one of the Army’s eight community-based warrior transition units. Bennett happens to live within a few miles of Camp Pendleton, a state military reservation that’s home to one of the units. Most of the 200 other soldiers assigned to the unit live hours away in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, West Virginia and North Carolina.

Soldiers are required to check in daily by phone with their platoon sergeant and weekly with their case worker to make sure their recovery is on track.

“I see this as a common-sense approach,” said Col. Chris Jones, the unit’s chief medical officer. “We’ve allowed soldiers to come home to get their care. When someone is with their family and friends, they’re going to get better quicker.”

The Army created the community-based transition units in 2004 and ’05 to deal with a surge of patients at military hospitals. In addition to easing overcrowding, the program reunites National Guard and reserve soldiers with their families.

Not all of the soldiers have combat wounds. Some were injured — or, say, suffered a heart attack — while training for an overseas deployment.

Soldiers typically spend a few months to a year in the transition unit. Those who recover fully rejoin their previous units. Those with chronic medical conditions that make them unfit to serve are processed out.

Before they go home, soldiers spend about three days at Camp Pendleton. Jones, a physician, meets with each soldier, examines his or her medical history and recommends a care plan.

He sometimes hooks patients up with university hospitals or specialists outside the military medical system, and works to get Tricare, the military insurance program, to cover the tab.

The incoming soldiers also meet with Patricia Bischoff, a licensed clinical social worker.

“Some people are coming through intact,” Bischoff said. “Some people are coming through with a lot, a lot, a lot of problems. A lot of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

The biggest priority for soldiers in the program is keeping their medical appointments. They also are assigned to work at a National Guard armory or a reserve center near their home.

Bennett works at Camp Pendleton, doing filing and administrative work for the transition unit. He goes to occupational therapy twice a week at Oceana Naval Air Station’s medical clinic.

He also has appointments with specialists at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center at least once a week.

Bennett is confident about his future. He hopes to return in January to Old Dominion University, where he was studying engineering. He plans to re-enter its ROTC program and earn his commission.

Source
Traumatic brain injuries the signature wound of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

Traumatic brain injuries the signature wound of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq

Troops with brain injuries face other possible problems

December  5 2008

Traumatic brain injuries have become the signature wound of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and troops who sustain them face a daunting array of potential medical consequences later on, says a report on the issue commissioned by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The report from the Institute of Medicine – a body that advises the U.S. government on science, medicine and health – said military personnel who sustain severe or even moderate brain injuries may go on to develop Alzheimer’s-like dementia or symptoms similar to Parkinson’s, a neurodegenerative disease.

They face a higher risk of developing seizure disorders and psychoses, problems with social interactions and difficulty holding down a job. Troops who sustain even mild brain injuries are more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And all are at a higher risk of experiencing aggressive behaviour, depression and memory problems.

The report urged the U.S. government to ramp up research in the area, saying there isn’t enough evidence in the medical literature – especially as relates to mild brain injuries – to determine what today’s troops face and how best to help them recover from or cope with the health problems they may develop.

“The more severe the injury, the more likely there are to be bad long-term outcomes,” Dr. George Rutherford, chair of the panel that produced the report, acknowledged in an interview from Washington.

But Rutherford said that brain injuries don’t have to be severe or involve penetration of the skull to set up a soldier for significant health consequences.

“If you have a traumatic brain injury – especially if it’s moderate or severe – you have some chance of developing a disease down the line that you would not have developed otherwise,” said Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

“For mild brain injuries, which is a much bigger group of injuries and it has a much broader scope, what we can say is for those kinds of injuries that there’s a probable association between having one of those – especially with loss of consciousness – and having depression, having aggressive behaviour … or having persistent post-concussive symptoms.”

“Like memory loss, like headaches, like dizziness.”

The panel read 1,900 studies on brain injuries looking for evidence of what troops who suffer brain injuries might face. But most of the studies relate to injuries suffered in car crashes and sports. The report says the injury picture could look different for troops who may also develop post-traumatic stress disorder from experiences in combat and that more research is needed.

The report noted that as of January 2008, more than 5,500 U.S. military personnel had suffered traumatic brain injury in Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the widespread use against them of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

A similar Canadian figure for troops deployed to Afghanistan is not available, Maj. Andre Berdais, a senior public affairs officer with the Canadian Forces Health Services Group, said via email.

Berdais said that kind of data is not tracked by the Department of National Defence, as it isn’t “essential in supporting our primary responsibility of patient care.”

But New Democrat MP Dawn Black, who has pressed the issue as a member of the House of Commons’ defence committee, said these injuries are a growing problem among Canadian troops.

“The rates are going up,” Black said from Ottawa. “Intuitively we know. But we also know from anecdotal evidence from people in the field.”

Black said the problem was put on her radar by soldiers and their families. “I’ve met with some of them and seen it. I’ve met with some of the families and seen it.”

The force of an explosion can induce what is essentially a concussion in the brain, sending it ricocheting around within the confines of the skull.

The damage caused by even a mild brain injury can take six months to heal, said Dr. Donald Stuss, a brain expert and vice-president of research at the Rotman Research Institute of Toronto’s Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care.

Injury can be done to different parts of the brain, triggering a variety of problems. But Stuss stressed that after-effects – or whether there are any long-term problems – will vary from person to person.

“So you may end up having somebody with a head injury who recovers perfectly and then afterwards has tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and dizziness from inner ear problems…. You may have some who end up with long-term memory problems,” he said.

Stuss said the key is to identify people with the problem and start treating them quickly.

The Forces’ Berdais said troops who have been exposed to explosions and may have suffered blast-induced injuries are screened for traumatic brain injury. Those found to be suffering from it are removed from active duty while they are symptomatic to prevent the risk of a repeat injury that could compound the insult on the brain.

And he said the Canadian Forces’ new physical rehabilitation program is in the process of developing policies and procedures for troops who continue to show symptoms of traumatic brain injury despite having received care.

Psychologist Gerrit Groeneweg, executive director of Calgary’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre, said people suffering lingering problems from traumatic brain injuries can benefit from being taught coping techniques – strategies for improving memory and training to help overcome problems with attention.

But finding out how to best treat traumatic brain injuries among troops remains a challenge, said Dr. Greg Passey, a psychiatrist with Vancouver Coastal Health Services who spent 22 years in the Canadian Forces and who now specializes in treating PTSD.

“We don’t have a really clear understanding of what the potential long-term effects are,” Passey said.

“Because some of our soldiers have been exposed – they’re getting blown up more than one time. And although they don’t have significant outward physical injuries, you can certainly develop things like post-traumatic stress disorder or other types of psychological or psychiatric disorders.”

Source

Those who go to war can suffer so many different problems.

There is  Depleted Uranium, which caused many problems. Then  you have  LandminesCluster Bombs and other types of bombs and there are many. Many types of weapons could be deafening or deadly.

Troops can be exposed to so many things.  If or when they come home they need the best treatment and deserve it.

They should not be ignored as the ones from the First Gulf war. It took  17 years for the US to say well yes they are sick. There is such a thing as Gulf War Syndrome. Well 17 years is too long for any soldier to wait.

The US however will not stop using  Depleted UraniumLandminesCluster Bombs.   They say they have a purpose. The only purpose of these weapons are to kill and they kill long after the wars are over.

Other countries are in the process of eliminating these weapons however. Those who refuse to stop using them are the ones, who need to be pressured into stopping their use.

Of course troops  going to war in any country with the US will be exposed to these types of weapons. What a shame.

If I am not mistaken the first two British soldiers to die in Kosovo were killed by a cluster bomb. If they had not been used those two soldiers may still be alive today.

In the Old Days they had something called Shell Shock
“By 1914 British doctors working in military hospitals noticed patients suffering from “shell shock”. Early symptoms included tiredness, irritability, giddiness, lack of concentration and headaches. Eventually the men suffered mental breakdowns making it impossible for them to remain in the front-line. Some came to the conclusion that the soldiers condition was caused by the enemy’s heavy artillery. These doctors argued that a bursting shell creates a vacuum, and when the air rushes into this vacuum it disturbs the cerebro-spinal fluid and this can upset the working of the brain.

Some doctors argued that the only cure for shell-shock was a complete rest away from the fighting. If you were an officer you were likely to be sent back home to recuperate. However, the army was less sympathetic to ordinary soldiers with shell-shock. Some senior officers took the view that these men were cowards who were trying to get out of fighting.”

Well many today are still called Cowards because, they become mentally ill. When will that ever change?

Many are still being sent back to war, that should not be sent back.  War caused problems mental and physical. It always has and it always will. This problem is not new, but very old indeed.

They are still exposed to many dangers. They are not cowards they are sick. War makes people sick.

They need all the understanding and help they can possibly get.

They should never be ignored.  Their needs are very real.

Governments cannot hide the truth forever.  Someone is always watching.

Canadian Forces not tracking incidence of brain injuries, hearing loss

Elusive threats boost PTSD risk in Afghanistan

Gov’t Study Concludes “Gulf War Syndrome” is Legitimate Condition, Affects 1 in 4 Vets