Bringing the War Home

The Washington Post has an incredible story today about the pain suffered by some soldiers returning from Iraq. Standing tall in parades, welcomed in many communities as heroes, our young men and women are returning to the United States haunted.

Telling the story of Army Spec. Jeans Cruz who helped capture Saddam Hussein, the article details the praise has come at a cost:

But a “black shadow” had followed Cruz home from Iraq, he confided to an Army counselor. He was hounded by recurring images of how war really was for him: not the triumphant scene of Hussein in handcuffs, but visions of dead Iraqi children.

In public, the former Army scout stood tall for the cameras and marched in the parades. In private, he slashed his forearms to provoke the pain and adrenaline of combat. He heard voices and smelled stale blood. Soon the offers of help evaporated and he found himself estranged and alone, struggling with financial collapse and a darkening depression.

Cruz sought help from the local Department of Veterans Affiars medical center, trying for help for a diagnosed case of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, his PTSD claim was denied, in spite of overwhelming evidence of his accomplishments for this country:

None of that seemed to matter when his case reached VA disability evaluators. They turned him down flat, ruling that he deserved no compensation because his psychological problems existed before he joined the Army. They also said that Cruz had not proved he was ever in combat. “The available evidence is insufficient to confirm that you actually engaged in combat,” his rejection letter stated

Yet abundant evidence of his year in combat with the 4th Infantry Division covers his family’s living-room wall. The Army Commendation Medal With Valor for “meritorious actions . . . during strategic combat operations” to capture Hussein hangs not far from the combat spurs awarded for his work with the 10th Cavalry “Eye Deep” scouts, attached to an elite unit that caught the Iraqi leader on Dec. 13, 2003, at Ad Dawr.

It does us well to remember those who return with the war still raging within. And their claims are denied. The complete article is worth spending time with.

Where is the great Champion for Justice and Democracy, George W. Bush? Why is he not leading the cry of outrage?

Well, Happy Fathers’ Day, George. Enjoy the cards. How about picking up the phone and giving Army Spec. Jeans Cruz a call? Better yet, Mr. President, read one newspaper article today.

This one.

This war is costing us much more than money.