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O My America: Have Mercy! It’s Memorial Day

May 20, 2015

by Lawrence Bush

“War never ends war.” --Rabbi Stephen S. Wise

Toy so;ldiersIN POLICE departments across the country, military veterans are given preferential hiring treatment. In some departments, military service even takes the place of certification, i.e., training. While psychological evaluation is part of the hiring process, hardly any departments test separately for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or use such a diagnosis to disqualify veterans from serving as officers. Yet the “number of veterans who have suffered from PTSD has appeared staggering,” writes Lance Eldridge, a military vet of 22 years and a police trainer, at, “with reports that nearly 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans treated at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals have been diagnosed with PTSD. These veterans are reportedly depressed, feel isolated and detached, and contain a seething rage underneath that can result in unforeseen violence.”

To boot, many veterans are scornful and/or afraid of the PTSD diagnosis — and many cops are reluctant to seek psychotherapy, despite the intensity of their work, which by itself can cause PTSD, because of the stigma associated with mental suffering and their fear that it will interfere with promotions and other job-related issues.

So: We have lots of military veterans with PTSD serving as police officers, with a system that welcomes them into the ranks but discourages them from healing.

Lord have mercy! It’s Memorial Day.

WE SPENT more than $4 trillion in taxpayer’s money fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans. The first war was hopeless; the second, useless. There have been close to seven thousand Americans killed in both wars, and more than fifty thousand wounded, alongside about 2,000 dead troops from allied invasion forces, some 500,000 Iraqis killed during the U.S. occupation (including hundreds of thousands of civilians), and tens of thousands of Afghans (at least 21,000 civilians, probably many more) during the ongoing war against the Taliban.

We unleashed a Sunni-Shiite war throughout Iraq and Syria; we unleashed ISIS, al Qaeda’s barbarian cousin; we failed to transform Afghan’s corruption into anything but a sitting duck for the resurgent Taliban; and now Senator Lindsey Graham is proposing to send 10,000 U.S. troops to fight ISIS, and George Pataki and most of the other ambitious fools running for the Republican nomination for President say the same, and half of the American population agrees . . .

Lord have mercy! It’s Memorial Day.


Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents magazine, in print and online.