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by Jay Shaft
Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2005 at 1:44 PM
Letters from redeploying soldiers
THE TRUTH FROM OUR OWN SOLDIERS ABOUT IRAQ:
Letters from redeploying soldiers
Published by Jay Shaft- Coalition For Free Thought In Media
A few months ago I put out a request for letters from soldiers being redeployed to Iraq for a second or third tour. I received about ten letters so far and will be publishing them over the next several weeks.
I am also in the middle of a series of articles about OIF/OEF vets who are suffering from PTSD or have had traumatic injuries and ongoing problems with getting treatment or having claims denied or delayed. The response on that has been absolutely overwhelming.
I expect to be able to release over 20 full-length interviews, and about 30 letters and stories from soldiers who are going through hell after coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
I will be publishing a five part series of articles exposing the lack of medical care aand benefits from the VA, the ongoing problems vets are facing with returning to normal life, and a host of problems that the VA is experiencing wit regard to lengthy waits for treatment or even outright denial of benefits to qualified vets.
A full-length interview with Specialist Douglas Barber (he served with the 1485th Transportation Company, Ohio National Guard fro) will be released tomorrow on hundreds of web sites around the world. He has some very strong words for America about withdrawing our soldiers and bringing them home right now before we lose any more lives in Iraq.
I will be publishing an interview with Staff Sgt. Raymond Ramos (he served with the 442nd MP Company, NY National Guard) next week. He also had some very strong words about the need to bring all the troops home and withdraw from Iraq immediately.
Staff Sgt. Ramos is not suffering from PTSD or related problems of that nature. He is suffering from long-term health care issues from exposure to Depleted Uranium. He is having difficulty getting treatment from the VA and they are billing his insurance for medically necessary services they are supposed to provide for free.
All of the vets and soldiers I have spoken to as part of the research on PTSD and traumatic injuries have some very strong words about withdrawal from Iraq and how they feel about the ongoing deaths and injuries to the soldiers serving right now. Even those who support staying in Iraq have said that the soldiers themselves must know when they are coming home. They say that we must stop the loss of life and horrific injuries occurring on a daily basis.
I felt that now was the time to put this out after watching Meet The Press and the Sunday news shows with all the opinions about withdrawal, the and slurs of treason and supporting terrorists against those who are questioning our mission in Iraq.
The various talking heads, “experts” and the various members of congress were all saying the troops want more soldiers to be sent over to Iraq. They were also saying that the troops they had spoken to were not in favor of withdrawal.
I have interviewed numerous vets and soldiers going back to Iraq over the last few months. I can categorically state that at least 80% were opposed to sending any more troops over to Iraq. They were in favor of either immediate withdrawal or at least getting a timeframe established for withdrawal.
They feel that America as a whole is not listening to them or even giving them a voice in the current debates about Iraq. They feel that America is failing them when it comes to providing adequate health care and support when they return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
I hear a lot of talk about what the troops want and that they are saying they do not favor withdrawal but want the US to stay the course in Iraq no matter what the price.
That is not what I am hearing from a majority of troops still in service and the vets who have returned recently. I had to put this out to show everyone in America what some of the real experts are saying about it. I felt it vital to the issues that are being debated on a National level for people to see this and be able to form their own opinion based on reality as the soldiers see it.
Please look for the interviews that will be coming out. I can assure you that this is not the type of stuff you will see the mainstream media exposing or covering except on a very basic level.
I intend to show the public that what they hear on the news or see in the paper does not begin to tell the real truth that are veterans and soldiers are desperate to reveal.
It is high time America listened to the soldiers who are putting their lives on the line and suffering the after effects of this ongoing war and the wars of the past. We have neglected their needs for far too long and it must be stopped.
LETS JUST LISTEN TO THE SOLDIERS WHO ARE THE REAL EXPERTS HERE!
Letters from a three US soldiers that were redeploying for another tour of combat duty in Iraq:
I AM GOING ON THE RECORD AND SAYING RIGHT NOW THAT THESE LETTERS HAVE BEEN SEEN BY Veterans For Peace, Iraq Veterans Against War, Operation Truth, AND NUMEROUS VETS AND OTHERS WHO CAN VERIFY THEM. I SENT A COPY OF THE ORIGINAL LETTERS TO THESE GROUPS AND TO SEVERAL VETS WHO I KNOW WILL CALL IT LIKE IT IS.
I HAVE HAD A LOT OF SH*T IN THE PAST ABOUT HOW I FABRICATED LETTERS AND INTERVIEWS. THAT IS UTTER B.S. AND WRONG ON ANYONE'S PART WHO TRIES TO DISCREDIT THE TRUTH AS THE TROOPS ARE SPEAKING ABOUT IT.
CERTAIN PERSONAL DETAILS HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INDENTITY OF THE SOLDIERS WHO WROTE THE LETTERS. THE SOLDIERS WERE THE ONES THAT HELPED ME TO MAKE SURE IT WOULD NOT BE ABLE TO BE TRACKED BACK TO THEM. THEY CHANGED ALL THE POSSIBLY DAMAGING INFORMATION AND DETAILS BEFORE PUBLICATION.
I can and will back up anything I put out, unless it puts a soldier in danger, or hurts his career or family members. I have done everything in my power to make sure that these letters came from real troops who are redeploying.
Any letter I have doubts about will not be published, or it will be verified by vets who were in Iraq.
Letter #1 from Captain Courage:
Dear Jay Shaft and Coalition For Free Thought In Media,
I received your request to interview or get letters from the troops who are redeploying for a second combat tour in Iraq. I am happy to talk to you, as long as you can keep me off record and protect me from having my name discovered by the Army and DOD. I cannot afford to get caught doing this because they will take my rank and service time and shit all over them.
I am an officer with an MP unit and have almost twenty years in service. I am almost ready to retire, but the Army felt it necessary to the mission in Iraq to send me over for at least a year, even though my enlistment is technically done after the beginning of next year.
I am redeploying for my second tour in Iraq and my fourth overseas assignment in the past four years. I have been home with my family a total of eleven months in that time, and it looks like I will spend less than a year with them out of a five-year period.
The Pentagon claims that we have plenty of troops to meet our obligations around the world, but they are redeploying as many as 100,000 more troops to Iraq by the end of 2006. Right now over 30,000 have been redeployed, and that's just over the last few months. In the beginning of this year there were about 20-30,000 that had to redeploy, I don't know exact numbers, but it was a lot.
They claim that they are meeting their recruiting demands and keeping enough soldiers in service to respond to any mission profile or duty response that is needed. They claim that our time frame in Iraq is only temporary, until the elections are over. Yeah, well we have already stayed through two elections and several attempts to draft a constitution. How many more times will we have to send thousands of troops over to secure democracy yet another time? Is it ever going to be secured? We will ever be allowed to leave Iraq?
This is the same Pentagon that says the Army and other branches are at their optimum size and they have been insisting all along it had plenty of troops to do the job, and to finish the job?
Does it look like we have enough troops that they can use without redeploying the same units that have taken mass casualties and had their strength depleted through bloody and life changing injuries? No, they are sending us back to the same meat grinder that me and my fellow brothers and sisters in arms were lucky to return home from.
Some of us made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for our country in military service, and others have had their lives forever changed by injuries and suffering from PTSD and combat stress. We will never be the same again, even if we won't even admit it to ourselves. We have come home only to face the imminent prospect of going back and dying for our country and their misguided policies and drive for oil and profits.
How do you tell a soldier he has to go back and put his life on the line again? How do you ask him to possibly give up his legs or arms or get permanent brain damage or other life damaging injuries? How can you be the one to ask a man or woman that, especially if they have children?
Maybe we should make an individual who supports the war without question be the one to notify the soldier he has to redeploy. Then if that soldier dies or gets hurt that same person would be responsible to go and notify the family that their soldier is dead or maimed for life.
Maybe that would change the minds of some of the people who do not know or care of the costs the troops pay every day they are being kept in Iraq. I am not saying that they shouldn't Support The Troops; you should do that no matter what your views on the war.
Regardless of a soldier's take on the politics and opinions of this war and its cost, each soldier will carry this experience in his or her heart and mind forever. You can never get the sight out of your mind's eye of the wounded and bleeding U.S. soldiers, and the ones who died right there in front of you or came back to the FOB in a bag.
The deaths of soldiers and civilians, and what is happening now in Iraq with the raids on the insurgent strongholds are not a reality TV show. It costs us lives, and and will be continuing to cost a lot of lives on both sides. How much more can they expect us to endure?
Enduring Freedom is an ironic name for continuing operations in the war on terror. It should be Operation Enduring Deaths and Injuries, because the death toll and number of injuries is growing like a cancerous tumor on our lives.
We should make sure that the rich kids and the wealthy young Turks of business have to serve the country as well as the poor. Why should the duty be left up to those who might not have any other options for a career because they can't afford college or higher education?
This will probably not happen, since the wealthy upper class and the well-heeled middle class are no longer sending their kids to the all-voluntary forces like they were during Vietnam, when the draft got everyone, unless you could buy your way out of course. The families of the less fortunate have no one to speak for them in Congress, so the rich will not have to sacrifice their kids or loved ones, they just have to wave the flag and "support the troops".
We really need cheerleaders right now, it's really saving lives and helping our troops to stay alive and come home. As you can see I do indulge in sarcasm, but it is high time someone in service did. We need to make sure that every man woman and child in America that stands up and waves the flag knows that it covers coffins coming home from the war they support.
For all the soldiers who say that they hate the protesters and would beat the crap out of them if they could, we need to make it real clear about our nation's foundation on freedom. We should be constantly reminded that the free expression of all opinions, any viewpoints and ideals, and even outright stupidity and the right to have any beliefs is exactly what we as soldiers are defending, because we are supposed to be bringing that right to the Iraqis as well.
I realize that it is hard sometimes to listen to people oppose the war or the President's choices, especially when we don't like the opinions offered and we are making sacrifices including giving up our lives. However, if we truly believe in what we sacrifice for, we will give people the right to voice dissent or to oppose this war.
Being soldiers, it is our duty to follow the orders of our commanders and this country's leaders, but as citizens it is everyone's right and responsibility to question our government and have the right to engage in political and ethical debate.
We as soldiers have to wait until we get out of service before we can openly engage in our own opinions and views, which is the ultimate irony for the soldier who is having questions or disillusionment with serving in Iraq. If you ask is there an official gag order, no, there is not one specific policy or rule to cover that, but you are told your duty is to never questions orders by a superior or our country's leaders.
While it is not a specific written policy, you can be assured that you will get punished or sanctioned for speaking out against the war or questioning the reality you have been presented. I have had several soldiers that I was responsible for investigating after they sent harsh and critically questioning letters back home. They were punished; believe me, with whatever the harshest punishment could be.
I was not responsible for the final adjudication or punishment, but I know it occurred. Please keep that in mind when you publish this letter. I want to be able to finish my 20 without getting crucified or have my rank taken away. I put in too much time to lose it all now.
I do not want to go back to Iraq. I do not want to see more of my soldiers killed or viciously wounded, or to see any of them end up with PTSD or long lasting mental problems.
I do not want to have to make the decision about whether to open fire on insurgents and know that I might be killing an innocent civilian who got in the way. I do not want to see any more dead children or any civilian for that matter. I do not want the responsibility of who dies and who lives. I know it is my job to do that as a commander, but it is not an easy thing to decide.
I do not want to go, but I will because I will not shirk my duty and try to get out of it. I am not happy to be going back to Iraq or happy about any of the things going on there. We are losing at least two or three soldiers a day, which makes the odds for my command pretty bad. I know I will lose soldiers; it's not something that I can hide from, or try to deny.
I know that the soldiers that die under my command will leave behind wives, children and mothers and fathers. They will leave behind brothers, sisters, and many friends who love them and will feel great pain and grief.
I just stand in awe of all the grief that my base has been through. We have lost about 100 soldiers from the various units at my stateside duty station, and more are being lost everyday.
I am going again and I might not come back. If I die in Iraq I will leave behind a wife and three children who will not have a father and mentor. It is hard enough having to leave them again; I just hope it's not forever.
With great regards for your work,
REAL NAME REMOVED TO PROTECT THE IDENTITY OF THE SOLDIER
Letter from ussargeoif1
I saw you were looking for vets of Iraq with PTSD and you were also looking for soldiers who were going to deploy for additional duty in Iraq. I am responding to both of your requests, because I am a vet with PTSD who has been mobilized for another combat tour in Iraq.
If you can keep my name and details to yourself then I am willing to speak to you. I will only talk to you if you are able to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of what I say to yourself. I know you will publish this somewhere but you can't put out my name or any unit info when you write it up.
I'm sure you have had to do this with other soldiers, because I have looked you up and found the stuff you have already written about. I don't know if you'll publish this letter, but I hope so. I need to get it off my chest and let the people at home know what we are going through.
It is against regulations to speak out in public, on message boards or in e-mails, or to speak to the press about any negative feelings or questions we might have about going back to Iraq. I have to be careful what I tell my family and friends because there is always something they consider vital to mission security or operations.
The truth is all I am worried about right now. No one seems to be willing to listen to us soldiers who have been over there and then come home. We want to tell them to send someone else, but we can't say that in public or where anyone might hear it and report us.
I am redeploying for my second tour in Iraq and I am not real happy about it. In fact I'm quite angry that they are sending me back. I have been away from my family for almost three of the last five years, and I've had enough. Even though I'm fed up with it I can't refuse to go back. No way am I becoming a C.O. (conscientious objector) and doing time in Leavenworth. That's even worse than going back to Iraq.
You wanted some details about troops with PTSD. Okay, I can answer some questions for you.
I have PTSD that would probably qualify for at least 50% disability and maybe as much as 100%. They won't let me get through all the steps to get into the system and qualify me as having PTSD significant enough to be unable to perform my duty. I know I have it real bad, but they keep giving me the run around.
I feel I am unfit for combat. If I have to be completely honest I would be a danger to anyone serving with me. I am in no way capable of going back to Iraq and conducting operations for another year. There is no possible way I could do my duty in a normal manner, I am just having too many problems that will diminish my capacity in the field.
I am all messed up in the head and I am suffering from depression and other mental problems. I don't think I am fit to serve combat duty, but I could manage to do a non-combat job, because I have been doing all right for the last year. I can do my job as long as I am not involved with combat or high-risk operations. I think it would be a mistake on the part of the Army to expect other men to serve with me when they know I have reported my problems too many times to count. They hear it but they don't really want to listen to it.
I am sure the Army could find me a duty assignment somewhere where my problems would not endanger the men around me. I have to be honest about how dangerous I am to those around me, because I would expect any other soldier to have the same respect for my life. I wouldn't want to serve with someone who was not operating at max efficiency so why would I expect someone else to serve with me if I am not 100% fit and ready to go?
I have complained to my superiors but I was pretty much ignored and saw the complaints pushed away when they came up. The Army wants me in Iraq and fighting and I do not want to do that. I don't want to be the one who got other soldiers killed or hurt. I keep telling them I am having problems and they send me to three day or short term counseling and then try to hide it under the rug.
I know of about 75 men in my battalion and about 200 in the brigade who have some kind of PTSD or are having readjustment issues or other problems. Some guys have beaten their wives or kids because they were so angry and fucked up from Iraq. I know about three guys who tried to kill themselves after they came home, and there were two in our brigade that killed themselves in Iraq.
As a unit we are good to go, but there are some of us who are not operating at full capacity. This is going to get some of our guys killed, and I think the Army knows it and doesn't care. I hope that I won't get anyone killed, but what happens the first time someone does get killed. Will I blame myself for it, even if it wasn't my fault? I probably will, because I blame myself for some of the deaths from my first tour.
Aw, hell, there are always more troops you can send over to maintain the unit strength. There is always a young kid ready and willing to go and serve his country, but are they really willing to die for it? Maybe they are, but I am no longer willing to die in Iraq for a war gone wrong in every way it can.
If I was defending us here at home against terrorists I would be glad to lay down my life, but not in Iraq. It's about protecting Americans at home, not by fighting and dying in some godforsaken shit hole desert country. I would die to protect this country, no doubts, but it is not keeping us safe to die in Iraq.
I had hell in Iraq the whole time I was there. It was rough and unless you've been there you just can't understand. There's no way for a civilian to understand the stress and constant state of alertness that you live with. Only another combat soldier can relate to how it really is.
I know 26 soldiers who died and about 250 who got wounded and evaced out of country. I saw at least 300-400 get minor injuries and return to duty that same day or in a few days after they were hurt. I thank God I made it back alive but this whole thing about going back just pisses me off.
We lost a lot of guys in the first tour, a lot of them that I knew. We had our Brigade Command Sergeant Major get killed along with his driver. It really hurt me because I knew the CSM and he was a great guy who put it all on the line for his soldiers. He died doing what he loved and he had done it all his life.
I had bad problems dealing with the ones who were killed, it really left a hole in my heart. I thought I could take it, but it really got to me and I reported PTSD to my commander. I got the typical three day combat PTSD deal and then was sent back to my unit.
One of the E-7's was like, shut up and get over it. I almost kicked his ass but that wouldn't have done me any good. I took a lot of shit for not being able to deal with it, but I had the right to request counseling. If it was affecting my ability to perform in combat then I needed to report it and deal with it the right way.
Shoving the pain down deep inside only works for a little while. After a certain point you can't push anything more into the hole deep inside yourself, then you have to vent or else you'll go crazy. I know there were lots of other guys who sought out counseling, and some of them had to be sent home because they were so fucked up.
Seeing combat over a long period of time really fucked me up mentally. We were hit with everything, IEDs, RPGs, mines, small arms fire, you name it and they hit us with it. You never knew when it was coming or who would get it. It was constant fear and stress, day after day.
So I'm going back again, damn them fuckers it's just not fair. I did my time over there, let them send someone who hasn't already gone over.
Well I guess I can't go AWOL so I have no options but to gear up and go. After we leave will be in Kuwait for several weeks training with the new up armor Humvees and the go to our AO (area of operations) in Iraq. I know it's going to be hardest before we get to Iraq. Being close to the actions but separated from it will be hell to deal with. To hear about attacks and deaths in our assigned AO will be scary. The combat stress and fear will slowly build up even before we get to our FOB (Forward Operating Base).
We are going into a hot zone with a high amount of attacks on the patrols and convoys. I just saw that 6 guys were killed around there just the other day and at least 20 have been killed in the area in the last month. We will have the newer 1114 series humvees or so they say. I hope we get `em because the 1025s and 1043s with the added armor are really unsafe.
That scares the shit out of me, because over the last few months the insurgents have stepped up the number of attacks, and they are using bigger and badder IEDs. You know your vehicle is going to get hit, it's not a question of if you'll get hit, it's a question of when.
The last time around I was riding a M998 humvee with armored doors and windshield that were placed on the vehicle when we first arrived in country. We had the M1025s and 1043s, but I wasn't in one right away, there just weren't enough to go around. I know we are getting the new up armor hummers because we are in a high security patrol area and need the extra armor because of all the attacks. We will be doing a lot of scout missions and other high risk duties that will put us right in IED alley.
Even though we are getting the up armors, I have seen a lot of problems with them. The up armored humvees are slow as shit, difficult to maintain, have steering problems, and are easy to tip over. I have seen some of them tip over and some guys got hurt or killed when they were riding the gunner's turret.
I have seen the 1043s get hit with IEDs and the armor is just not enough. I've seen what happens when one is hit with a 155mm round IED at short range. Whoever's on that side dies or gets wounded so bad they die later. It happened to one of my best friends, it happened to a Lieutenant and a Captain at the FOB right down the street from us, and I saw it happen to at least 10 guys we were on patrol with.
I was in one of the 1043s that got hit and even the supplemental armor was not going to stop that 155mm round. We got hit bad and our driver was killed instantly. The guy riding shotgun lost his eye and parts of his hands and feet, and got torso wounds that almost killed him right there. I got a few chunks of shrapnel in my face and hands, but I was real lucky to be behind the doorpost, which absorbed most of the blast. The other two guys in the vehicle didn't get hurt at all just shaken up.
Actually I was glad to be in the 1043, because if we had been riding the 998 or 1025 we would all have been dead or out of action for good. That's why we are getting the best new hummers, but this doesn't justify the reasons that any soldier should have to go without the up armored vehicles, proper body armor, and things like that.
When we get to Iraq we will know exactly which parent unit will be our actual commanding unit. Of course we will have our own HHC (Head Quarters Company) but we will be under the command of whatever larger unit we are assigned to. Depending on where we are needed we could stay with the rest of the 101st or be assigned to any number of other units like 1st Cav or 3rd ID or even with the Marines if they need us.
Our normal duty will consist of mounted patrols, battalion quick reaction force missions, manning observation posts, MSR sweeps, traffic checkpoint searches, and maintaining other checkpoints and security ops. Of course nothing is normal about Iraq, so you never know what you will be doing or if you will be in a fire fight or see some kind of action.
I don't know if I am coming back home and it scares the piss out of me. I might come home but be wounded and not able to live a normal life. I've seen the guys who lost limbs and had brain damage. It's not pretty and it’s got to fuck up their families.
Well I have said what I needed to. I hope it makes some kind of difference, but if it was just me bitching, so be it. After all I have been through I am entitled to bitch. The ones who will say I am disgracing my service can go fuck themselves. This is my nightmare and I WILL talk about it. I don't care who doesn't like it, fuck `em!
Wait another year and then you'll see how many soldiers have long lasting mental problems. It will get to be like after Vietnam when all those soldiers finally realized they had big problems.
We cannot forget the last two years in Iraq have been a total disaster and it has fucked up a lot of lives, both civilian and military. Our soldiers will be facing this for years to come. Look at how long some of the Nam vets have been suffering, over 30 years and still no relief.
You can never be the same again, it is all in how you deal with it.
After I get to my AO and settle in I will write to you, or try to because of the risk of getting caught. I want to be able to get letters out there for people to read. I have seen some that soldiers sent home and it made me think that I could do it to.
I'll be in touch if I can. I really want to try and keep you updated on anything that happens to us. I will talk to you when I get back so you can interview me. I am sure if I make it I will have one hell of a story to tell.
PS-Please don't let my unit info get out or I am in deep shit.
NAME REMOVED TO PROTECT THE IDENTITY OF THE SOLDIER
Letter # 3 from warsucks31
RE: LOOKING TO INTERVIEW OIF/OEF VETS WITH PTSD OR TRAUMATIC INJURIES
I was sent a copy of your request to interview OIF vets. I was part of OIF2 from **** 2003-**** 2003-then back for more until around April 2004. I was wounded and I also have a very bad case of PTSD. I can't get the Army to admit that I have a disabling amount of PTSD and it has been very hard to get counseling or any treatment for it.
I am not to sure about writing to you, but I'll take a chance. What can they do, send me back to Iraq? I am going again so there's nothing they can really do to me. It's just my family I am worried about. I can deal with the heat if they find out about me, but my family can't get hurt. I need the housing benefits and the family benefits we get because I am serving this country.
The problem is those who speak up are harshly punished for it and pay the price for speaking up. We get in trouble while the ones who made us this way carry on as if nothing ever happened. I have seen that first hand and have been in trouble already for criticizing Bush and the Pentagon's civilian assholes. I know of some guys who wrote home and told the truth. They got so much shit that I don't think they wrote anything else the whole time in Iraq.
I have been having a lot of problems dealing with some events that took place over in Iraq, and just a couple of months ago my brother and three high school friends deployed to the same AO I used to be at. His unit is taking heavy casualties and I am probably redeploying to the same AO myself. It scares me, but I might be able to see my brother every day. It has been hard being separated and seeing the news about his AO and the rest of the FOBs in hot zones that are getting heavy action.
I guess only another vet or soldier there right now could relate to my shit. It is the soldiers who did it who can relate to this kind of problem, not the civilians. We have to explain it to them to make them realize the cost of this war on the minds of those fighting it. They need to get the whole picture that is there, not just the parts the media and the government lets them see.
I can't relate to anyone that isn't in the military. Everything I think about brings back the horrors of Iraq. Things were so much clearer there; you didn't have to think about it, you just did what needed to be done. Now I have to think about things all the time, and it is simple stuff but I can't do it. My thought patterns are all fucked up.
I am scared because I have a three month old daughter, and I don't know if I'll be coming back to see her. I have two sons and they are both under 10. My sons watched me leave once, now they will have to go through another year or more separated from their dad. My wife was almost ready to divorce me before I knew I had to redeploy.
This is hurting my family because I have to leave again and they worry about me all the time. I haven't been able to talk to my kids the right way. I have pushed them away so that they didn't see all the pain and shit I was going though. I didn't think I was going back, so I just knew I had plenty of time to get my shit straight, and then deal with my kids.
Now I don't have that chance because I just didn't get things accomplished like I thought I would. If I die over there then all this shit will be unresolved and be forever part of what they remember about their daddy. I don't want them to remember me as the fucked up man who came home for a year and was yelling and freaking out all the time. I don't want them to remember me that way, as just coming home and then leaving again and not coming back.
When I was over there I was always waiting for the next I.E.D or attack. I still expect to be attacked every time I walk outside or drive around in the car. I am always ready to jump out and take cover or to react with evasive moves with the car. I scared the shit out of my wife so much that I don't drive unless I am going somewhere alone.
I am drinking heavily and taking enough pills to kill Elvis. I just can't sleep unless I have passed out, and even then I wake up most of the time screaming and yelling or jumping out of bed and trying to hide under it.
When I was in Iraq the attacks and expectation of dying were what I probably had the most trouble with. I was in several attacks and survived a few roadside bombs and IEDs. I almost died in one attack I have to tell you about.
I was in a cargo truck that got attacked by insurgents. We were in a supply convoy and were almost to our FOB when they jumped us. We never saw it coming and I can't remember all the details even now. They hit the back of my truck with an RPG and then opened fire on us with AKs.
When the RPG hit us it knocked me out for a few minutes. I was half awake and going in and out of consciousness but I was still aware of all the shit going on around me. I heard the bullets hitting the cab of the truck and felt the shrapnel and fragments hitting all over my body. Before I fully awoke, I heard another couple gunshots and figured that he got my driver as well. I came to and saw the fuckers shooting my driver, who had tried to pull himself out of the cab and return fire.
They killed three of us that day and wounded four more. I still wake up screaming and covered in sweat when I have that dream. I saw several more soldiers get killed after that, but it wasn't the same because I was able to shoot back at the assholes. That one attack was the hardest thing I went through over there because I was helpless the whole time they were attacking us.
I think the troops need to write home about the things that go on over in Iraq. They need to tell the people about the problems, such as the government not getting the proper equipment to protect our troops.
While the assholes argue and debate over whether we're beating the insurgents or if they're almost defeated, troops are still dying. They want to argue about whether they have enough civilian contractors and other such inconsequential stuff. The troops still don't have enough up-armored hummers and a lot of them are using 10-15 year old equipment that the last unit in their AO left behind.
We had to have at least 10 people lost in our unit before we got some up-armored Humvees, and there were never enough for everyone. But that's only the opinion of someone who spent 16 months over there. I probably don't know shit because I am just a common line soldier. Only the civilians and generals can have an expert opinion, they won't give the grunts a voice in this debate.
I needed to get some of this out, it feels a little better now. Maybe there is a soldier out there who has figured out how to deal with PTSD or whatever the hell all this is, but I am still trying to find my way of dealing with it. I will be dealing with this for a long time. Going back now will just make it all the harder to face when I get back. It will just add more misery to the pain I am already facing.
Hey, it sucks to admit I got fucked up over there, but I'm not alone. I will never be "normal", but I'm alive, and I hope I can stay alive to work it out and get better. No one understands what really happened there, except those who went through it.
I never hid from my job in the war, nor turned my back on my duties. I'm proud to have served my country, but this whole war pisses me off and makes me so mad I want to punch Bush.
Everything was so much simpler in Iraq, or that's what I tell myself anyway.
I WISH THEY COULD JUST END THIS WAR RIGHT NOW!
Wish me luck and pray for me to come home safe,
WAR SUCKS WHEN IT HAS NO CAUSE OR ENDING!
GOD BLESS AMERICA
I am also including the links to some of my previuosly published articles, interviews and letters from soldiers in Iraq and their families.
US Soldiers to America: ''Bring us home now; we’re dying for oil and corporate greed!''
Scoop: US Soldiers to America: Bring Us Home Now (Pt. 5)
(this article has links to the other four articles in the series)
Scoop: When Will We Stop Dying Senselessly? – US Soldiers
Scoop: Sometimes It Is A Soldiers Duty To Tell The Truth
(YES! THIS IS THE ARTICLE THAT WAS RETRACTED BY A WEBSITE BASED ON ANONAMOUSLY PROVIDED PROOF AND QUESTIONS FROM THEIR OWN ANONOMOUS SOURCE. IRONIC ISN'T IT? ANONAMOUS QUESTIONS OF AN ANONOMOUS ARTICLE!)
Yes! I’ve Killed Innocent People In Iraq! Oh God Forgive Me! I Refuse To Go Back Again! It’s a Sin!
Dead heroes can't pay the bills!
Stop killing us and then waving the flag! It's sick and disgusting
Scoop: Jay Shaft: A US Soldier Writes From Iraq
I met one of our troops yesterday- A VET RESPONDS TO MY ARTICLE
Letter From A Soldier's Mother: Soldier's Are Not Combat Ready!
LETTER FROM A SCARED, ANGRY MOTHER OF A FUTURE MARINE
For Families of Some Killed in Iraq: Grief, Outrage and Protest
“The pain of my son’s death does not get any better, it just gets worse as time goes on.” Interview with Celeste Zappala, Mother of Army Sgt. Sherwood R. Baker
Scoop: Jay Shaft IV - President Bush, You Killed My Son!
Scoop: NYC Anti-War Protest Interview With Sue Niederer
Scoop: Jay Shaft Poem: The Endless Funeral Procession
Poem I put out on the second anniversary of the Iraq invasion.
I AM WORKING WITH VOICES IN WARTIME AS PART OF MY ONGOING WORK WITH SOLDIERS. I AM HIGHLY RECOMMENDING THEIR NEW DVD AND AM ASKING EVERYONE TO TAKE A LOOK AT IT.
Voices in Wartime DVD Now Available!
Voices in Wartime is a feature-length documentary that delves into the experience of war through powerful images and the words of poets - unknown and world-famous. Poets around the world, from the United States and Colombia to Britain and Nigeria to Iraq and India, share their poetry and experiences of war. Soldiers, journalists, historians and experts on combat interviewed in Voices in Wartime add diverse perspectives on war's effects on soldiers, civilians and society.
The film also brings to life how poetry and war have been intertwined since the beginning of recorded history--from ancient Babylonia and the fields of Troy--to the great conflicts of the 20th century and the current war in Iraq. The stirring words of poets of the past - Homer, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Walt Whitman and Shoda Shinoe from Hiroshima are combined with more recent voices: a Vietnam vet, poets in war-torn Baghdad, a poet whose family experienced the devastating war in Biafra in the late 1960s. The poetry moves us to the emotion of war explained to us by soldiers, journalists and a doctor who have experienced the effects of combat firsthand. The poetry illuminates the reality. And the documentary reality helps us to understand the poetry. Together they sear the experience, emotions and sacrifices of war into our hearts and minds.
Voices in Wartime uses the words of Wilfred Owen, considered by many to be the greatest poet of World War I, as a guide: “Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity… All a poet can do today is warn. That is why true Poets must be truthful.”
VIW is providing the video for screenings in your local community. If you are interested please click on the link below.
Organize a screening in your community >>>
Opening of the Heart aims to transform how we respond to, engage in, and recover from conflict. Your event may help support us to envision and manifest a world in which individuals, communities and individuals move beyond polarization and destruction, instead welcoming conflict as an opportunity to create understanding, empathy and positive change.
See a Trailer of the Film: Go to http://voicesinwartime.org/trailer.htm
Learn More about the Film: Go to http://voicesinwartime.org/movie.htm
To Order the DVD, go to http://voicesinwartime.org/dvd.htm
ABOUT THE WRITER:
Jay Shaft is a freelance investigative writer, and the Managing Executive Editor/Owner of the independent news group Coalition For Free Thought In Media.
He has conducted many interviews with soldiers who have served in Iraq, in which service members exposed the issues of the military's failure to provide proper equipment and training to USA troops, and he has been on the forefront of investigating the price that soldiers are paying as a result.
He is currently involved in interviewing soldiers who have returned from war with PTSD or trauamatic injuries. An ongoing expose and series of troops/vet interviews and articles highlighting the failure of the VA system to adequately take care of the soldiers and vets is in current publication at this time.
He has also published many letters and interviews from parents speaking out against the death or injury of their children serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Contact Jay at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
COPYRIGHT 2005- Coalition For Free Thought In Media/ Jay Shaft
This article is freely provided for public and private use, as long as anyone who uses it does not alter any of the content, and leaves all links intact.
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