YearlyKos Day 2: "Listen to me. They come home from war, and they kill themselves"



I'm still blogging from YearlyKos here in Las Vegas, and attended a panel yesterday that consumed me with sadness and rage. I cried.


There's a group called IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America) which represents just the people it sounds like they represent. They were founded when returning vets realized that the America they left behind had forgotten them, obsessing over Branjelina and not acting at all like a country at war. They complained about the lack of a human face on the troops that we have, regardless of how we feel about the war (p.s. check out my Interview with a Returning US Marine from last summer).


IAVA hosted a panel with veterans from Iraq talking about their experience over there, but most horribly, their experience here in the US, once they returned.


The quote in the title was from a female vet who joined the military at age 17. She was describing the heart-breaking, back-stabbing and outright cruel lack of resources available to veterans once they get back, especially psychological help. She told of how she was sexually assaulted by a major when she was 19 (a subject I've blogged about before), traumatized by her experience in Iraq, and forced into nearly 9-month delays once she returned. She was officially noted by the military health staff as having suicidal tendencies. If it weren't for IAVA, she said, she'd be another statistic.


"I know people who came back from the war and blew their brains out because they couldn't take it. Listen to me. They come home from war, and they kill themselves"