Angry Veterans

Why are there more women in nursing homes than men? Is testosterone a slow poison? Or is it the male personality that kills us off so much earlier than women? Perhaps a combination of both. Surely there have been some medical studies into this but I haven’t read any.

Further, I wonder if there is a higher percentage of angry men in the demographic of ex-military? Of growing concern lately is PTSD, which has decimated many returning military men, often preventing their return to ‘normalcy’ back home. Of course, the military historically denied that PTSD even existed, causing many men into shameful withdrawal from life as well as suicide. Even today, many veterans are in denial that their battle experiences are the cause of their quirky behaviors and violent anger home-side.

Here’s a psychology masters thesis waiting to be written: Are military veterans in general more angry than the general male population? An yet-to be written doctoral dissertation might ask, Were those who seek a military career already more angry before joining or did the anger arise from their military service?

Why do I ask these questions? Well, in the past few weeks, I have dabbled around in right-wing blogs- quite an unpleasant adventure. Although I went in to try to understand those at this location on the political spectrum , it soon became apparent that I was an ‘enemy.’ I use the term, enemy, in the context of the military. When it became clear that I dwell on the left-side of the political center, I became a target of their anger. Curiously [this the topic of this post] those who frequent these blogs all boast of their former military service. It is not unlike a virtual VFW Post gathering.

Their hostility to my ‘intrusion’ quickly rose to anger. Here’s the extremely strange thing about these men- I was summarily dismissed as a unworthy human being. It went beyond anger to vilification as if I really were the enemy during their mortal combat mission. The usual set of insults were thrown at me like turd brain and shithead. But then, when I didn’t seem to react to that line of insults, a much deeper anger welled up inside of them. Two of them wanted to fight me, face to face, man-to-man.  One even listed his physical attributes to scare me.

Then came the deepest anger. Yesterday one of the ex-military told me, “You don’t deserve to hang out with decent people.” Whatever that means.  Yet, here’s the most strange statement of all, one that makes you sit up and notice: You are a complete piece of shit, and I would take back the protections I provided for you if I could. He suggests that, while he was in the military ‘protecting me,’ he wishes that he could take back that protection and expose me to a foreign military attack.

Is this normal? Are these bloggers typical of that demographic? Why are they so filled with anger and hate when they return home?  Or were they that way before they enlisted? That’s my question- which came first?

This of course brings up the responsibilities of the military in general, and the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in particular.What are they doing about this?  Surely they must be aware of the difficulties that men face when they leave active duty and attempt to blend into society once more. What kind of services, training re-education do they offer for the returning military men? Or is there none? Do we just ‘dump’ them back into society and hope that they can handle it?  Do we assume that a person who experiences the horrors of the battlefield can naturally, automatically meld back into society without any debriefing, any mental health services?

Then, there arises an additional problem atop all of this.  What if the general public back home disregards their efforts as meaningless in a war that ought not have been fought?  Like Vietnam or Iraq. Then, I would suppose, the anger felt by these military men would increase exponentially.  With over 140,000 men [and women] in active war theaters at the present time, the potential for even more stressed-out, angry and violent returning veterans increases significantly. Will they just be pushed under the carpet like we did for the Vietnam vets? Or will there be some meaningful effort by our congressmen to help them return to a more-normal life? Don’t bet on congressional action.

PSTD and emotional maladjustment syndrome carry on long after the bullets have stopped firing. Then begins the war within.

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5 thoughts on “Angry Veterans

  1. I am beginning to believe that getting rid of the draft and universal military service is the root of this problem. The people who enlist are either the poor and unemployed youth or fanatical patriots. The fanatical patriot is akin to the religious fanatic in that they see anything which does not conform to their idea of a “proper American” is obviously an enemy.

    It’s an extreme black and white situation.

    One can question whether these people actually served or they want the cache of being a “true American patriot”. In that case, one can argue whether military service in the regular army is truly patriotic. But that would confuse these people. They need to free themselves from the myths and see the world as it actually is, but that goes against their worldview.

    So, you add mental illness into the equation of people who are fanatical about the US being a White, Christian, Conservative nation to create a very frightening situation.

    Think Timothy McVeigh.

  2. I think the impact starts in the home environment growing up, to the peers one hangs with in school…… then with like minded peers one gravitates to in the military. Then who knows what impact boot camp peers drum into the already possibly dis functional mind set, with a heavy dose of strict judgmental views thrown into the mix.
    I remember as a young person in my early double digits hearing my father, a navy veteran, staunch Democrat, verbally state ” And we fought the war for these silly Bastards” when several long haired hippie types walked in his and his naval friend’s view while visiting the ocean on our vacation.
    Everything now days seem to be more to the extreme and in our face nature with media impact and the world wide web.

  3. I dissent.

    First, PTSD is a mental illness that manifests itself against everyone as opposed to a specific group or individual. Think of it like a bomb blast–it doesn’t discriminate agisnt certain folks in the blast radius, it gets those who are closest.

    Second, those who tout their military service aren’t career military. They’re folks with serious self-esteem issues who believe some short stint in the armed services confers upon them some kind of super-citizen status. Generally, these folks have largely failed in their personal relationships and their professional career. As such, they believe their 2- or 4-year military service is a magic talisman for their own failings. They believe they are “owed” something for their small service and since they are getting it–professionally or personally–they lash out irrationally.

    Career military folks don’t act this way; in fact, they can’t because if they were display such anti-social tendencies–they’d be gently pushed out of the military. Additionally, career military understand that while they may have expertise in some area, it usually doesn’t convey expertise in areas outside the defense industry. So, if you read some “ex-military” wingnut bloviating about healthcare–you have to realize their understanding of the issue is about as informed as your dog.

    1. PTSD is a mental illness that manifests itself against everyone as opposed to a specific group or individual.

      True, but we are talking about specific PTSD cases and its manifestation in those cases.

      Although, their issue may not be PTSD, it may just be plain old DSM mental illness.

      believe their 2- or 4-year military service

      Or ten years in one infamous case.

      is about as informed as your dog.

      Watch that, my dog is probably better informed than these people are.

  4. Lacy says, I am beginning to believe that getting rid of the draft and universal military service is the root of this problem.

    You can bet, Laci, that if we still had a universal draft, there would be no U.S. Military in either Iraq or Afghanistan now. The public would not stand for it. Because it is voluntary, the Congress can ‘play with’ war as long as is political feasible.

    Midwestgirl- …with a heavy dose of strict judgmental views thrown into the mix. Those ‘judgmental views’ might emanate from a skewed mindset, as Jade suggests, that may cause some of these men to believe some short stint in the armed services confers upon them some kind of super-citizen status.

    Maybe they accomplished very little up to the time of enlistment, but rather than growing through the experience, they remained stagnant and use the ‘short stint’ as a cover for their weaknesses. I think Jade has a good point.

    Jade- I didn’t suspect that any of the three were career military. If the one who wanted to ‘un-protect’ me were a career military man, then our nation is in deep, deep trouble.

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