A Sad Veterans Day; 1/4 of Homeless are Vets Bombings in Baghdad, Mosul, Diyala Showdown at Samarra

On Veterans Day, think about the thousands of US dead and wounded in Iraq (for what purpose, exactly?), and think about Iraqi Veterans against the War as Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman suggests.

Typically this group and others like it are being denied a voice in public commemorations of the veterans (who apparently should be honored but should not actually be allowed to speak for themselves.)

It is worth reprinting today Michael Munk’s recent email:

‘ US military occupation forces in Iraq suffered at least 178 combat casulties in the six days ending Nov. 6, as total casualties reached at least 61,596. The total includes 31,596 killed or wounded by what the Pentagon classifies as “hostile” causes and 30,294 (as of Oct. 1) dead and injured from “non-hostile” causes.

US media divert attention from the actual cost in American life and limb by routinely reporting only the total killed (3,855 as of Nov. 6) and rarely mentioning the 28,451 wounded in combat. To further minimize public perception of the cost, they cover for the Pentagon by ignoring the 30,294 (as of Oct. 1) military victims of accidents and illness serious enough to require medical evacuation, although the 3,855 reported deaths include 710 (up one since Oct. 31) who died from those same causes, including 130 suicides. ‘

2007 is the deadliest year yet for US troops in Iraq.

Some 48,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and have difficult coping with life back in the US.

It is no surprise, then, that 200,000 veterans have been homeless at some point in the past year, and that veterans make up 26% of the homeless, even though they are only 11% of the population. Experts fear that many Iraq and Afghanistan vets will also end up homeless. The homelessness seems to me obviously an outgrowth of PTSD (which can lead to alcoholism and to the break-up of families, and generally to a reduction in emotional and kin support for an individual who seems habitually angry, distant, and acting a bit oddly). The article says,

‘ Younger veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan are trickling into shelters and soup kitchens seeking services, treatment or help with finding a job. Some advocates say the early presence of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan at shelters does not bode well for the future. It took roughly a decade for the lives of Vietnam veterans to unravel to the point that they started showing up among the homeless. Advocates worry that intense and repeated deployments leave newer veterans particularly vulnerable. “We’re going to be having a tsunami of them eventually because the mental-health toll from this war is enormous,” said Daniel Tooth, director of veterans affairs for Lancaster County, Pa.’

Ironically, among the best things you can do to support the veterans is to give regularly to your local homeless shelter. (We should all be doing that anyway, since it is not a cause that is easy to raise money for, and government has tended to fall down on the job in this regard. One third of the homeless are families with children. You can easily find out which is the major local homeless shelter in your area.)

Health care for the Iraq veterans that actually is proffered by the US government will cost Americans at least $650 billion, or over $2,000 each. And even then there will be all those tens of thousands of homeless vets whose lives have been wrecked.

Speaking of the homeless, the new visa restrictions on Iraqis entering Syria has reduced the number of asylum seekers per month from 20,000 to 600. Since there is no evidence that there is a decline in the Iraqis being displaced from their homes by threats and violence, the 20,000 are likely just being displaced to other places in Iraq instead of going to Syria.

26 Foreign Service Officers of the State Department may still be dragooned into serving in a war zone and in a very dangerous Green Zone that cannot be protected from almost daily mortar and rocket fire. As long-time readers know, I am calling for Congress to close down the US embassy in Iraq, because it is not right to attempt to maintain a formal embassy in a war zone, where diplomacy cannot be practiced. It would also be an important first step to ending the Iraq War.

Reuters reports civil war violence in Iraq for Saturday, including several bombings that wounded fair numbers of persons in Baghdad, and a major clash between tribal levies and Salafi Jihadis near Samarra that left 18 dead. When the Jihadis used to kill 18 tribesmen, this used to be considered a sign of instability. But the other way around is interpreted as ‘good news.’ Problem: The so-called tribal sheikhs are not necessarily nicer people than the Salafis. Likewise, there is no reason to think that they are willing to accept the Shiite a-Maliki government.

McClatchy has more on Saturday’s violence, including a major bombing in Mosul and several violent incidents around Baqubah in Diyala province.

At the Napoleon’s Egypt blog: it turns out that Gen. Bonaparte’s new military hospitals in Egypt for his wounded troops did not get off to a very good start. The Iraq War vets are not the first soldiers to be neglected by their commander in chief once they are no longer at the front lines.

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