What do you say to a Iraq Veteran who's questionaing the war and grieving over a lost war buddy? Would you just be out with the cold facts that its all for "NADDA" "ZIP" !!!!!

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    Mar 31, 2008 3:13 PM GMT
    (please note !!! ) When I mentioned here in the subject line "a soldier who's questioning the war" I'm talking about one who is seeing the truth of the war, and at a loss as to how to sort this out in his head. What comfort can you give a guy in this situation? in his heart he knows its a fraud, so how do you move beyond that to help the guy. Many vets are coming to the realization that the premise for this war was based on lies, and twisted/contrived inteligence. Realizing that their battles over there and the loss of their fellow soldiers, had nothing to do with protecting "THE HOMELAND" but everything to do with controling OIL, that the only ones benefitting are Haliburton, the big Oil companies, the war machinery suppliers, Blackwater and other war contractor profiteers. This has got to be a heart rending realization for a soldier. I certainly don't espouse making it a point of wholesale telling soldiers at every opportunity that the war they're fighting is a fraud. Its not their fault, its the Governments. Are there any books, films, web sites (other than Iraq Veterans Against the War IVAW) that help the soldier in this situation make sense of an illigimate war? What would you tell a soldier under these circumstances? (I have read that hundreds of currently active duty soldiers, and those state side are joining IVAW) A lot of families are facing this now.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Mar 31, 2008 5:46 PM GMT
    I don't care what I may feel about the war, but I would NEVER say the things you just said to a grieving friend or family member. That is the height of callous insensitivity, and needlessly cruel at a terrible time. If the grieving person comes to those conclusions on their own, in their own time, then let them do so without your help.
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    Mar 31, 2008 5:56 PM GMT
    Well if i was an American and i had a buddy returning from Iraq and he was troubled i would take him in my arms and listen to all he has to say without any comments and take him to the nearest Bar to relax and wait a few months to see if he realy wants to talk about it?
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    Mar 31, 2008 5:58 PM GMT
    I agree with Jarhead, I had five family members (both grandfathers and 3 Great Uncles) fight in WWI. That war was of dubious success to say the least. I would never have told them "your suffering and the suffering of your pals was all for naught". Their sacrifices should be honoured not belittled. This is coming from someone who is usually anti-war.

    Besides it is still too soon to say the Iraq war was a total disaster. We may not know the full impact for generations.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Mar 31, 2008 6:07 PM GMT
    No, I don't. Because it doesn't matter. The military is not, and can not be structured such that enlisted soldiers get a choice which conflicts they participate in. And given that's the case, and leaders are flawed (usually deeply flawed), some wars will have more or less "meaning."

    And the truth is, they didn't die for nothing. Whether the conflict itself is "worthwhile" the soldiers are there for a reason, not a grand political one, but a personal reason. Each soldier has a story and a reason, and to say they died for nothing is to demean their personal dedication and sacrifice.



    But the truth is, most of my military friends who grieve for lost comrades aren't interested in talking about the politics of it. Mostly they're more interested in talking about their lost brothers, and often the guilt that comes with being a survivor.
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    Mar 31, 2008 6:08 PM GMT
    Somehow jarhead you missed the point that I referred to "a soldier questioning the war" and I hope you understand when I said "I don't espouse telling --- that the war they are fighting is a fraud" I will reword this so not to even faintly appear to offend.
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    Mar 31, 2008 6:28 PM GMT
    Diverscience said -- "truth is they didn't die for nothing --- the soldiers are there for a reason, not a political one, but a personal one, each soldier has a story and a reason, and to say that they died for nothing is to demean their personal dedication and sacrifice" OK !!! YES I AGREE WITH YOU, and your point here is what I'm trying to get out of this, see you have given me something to say that's comforting so the soldier so that even if he does fear that the war itself if for nought, he can have honor as your statement suggests.
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    Mar 31, 2008 6:41 PM GMT
    Yeah, Jarhead, I think you misread RLD's post.

    I think it's a reasonable question. I think everyone gets into those existential regret stages.

    I'm always afraid of the ones who never have regrets, who never question (after the fact). We insist soldiers must unquestioningly obey when they are in the service, but once the spigot is turned off, I'd expect most soldiers to become introspective.

    To answer the question: I'd let him or her do the talking. If he asks my opinion, I'll be truthful, but of course I'll qualify what I'm saying by specifying my disdain for the administration, not the little guy.

    Is a soldier so fragile or naive that he cannot imagine the world in shades of gray other than what his superiors painted for him? I don't think so. Nearly all of my soldier friends have a great appreciation for their role and a clear perspective on the state of the world.
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    Mar 31, 2008 6:49 PM GMT
    turkishdelight and Mickytop--- yes to what your saying, your ideas is what I'm after too !!! DAMN !!! I SURE DIDN"T MEAN TO GET THIS OFF TO A WRONG START TO IN ANY WAY BELITTLE A SOLDIERS LIFE and EFFORTS !!! I think you guys have helped correct the wrong impression, Thanks !!! dennis
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    Mar 31, 2008 6:51 PM GMT
    I'd ask him more about what he was feeling and thinking about the war, and how he came to question it at this point. Then I'd tell him how I came to the same or similar conclusion, and than I'd tell him what a lot of people think about the war. If he doesn't come foward and step further into a point of view that is more like my own and/or against the war, than I won't shove any cold hard facts down his parched throat.

    I've always believed that soldiers, firefighters, paramedics and police officers learn to carry a "special" burden that someone whom hasn't experienced the pains of war; losing a civilian in a fire or ambulance; or having a buddy shot in the line of duty would ever understand with words alone. I support the men and women in the military, police, firefighter, and paramedic/medical fields for putting their lives in the hands of fate; while they attempt to make our lives better.
  • DiverScience

    Posts: 1426

    Mar 31, 2008 6:51 PM GMT
    realifedad said Diverscience said -- "truth is they didn't die for nothing --- the soldiers are there for a reason, not a political one, but a personal one, each soldier has a story and a reason, and to say that they died for nothing is to demean their personal dedication and sacrifice" OK !!! YES I AGREE WITH YOU, and your point here is what I'm trying to get out of this, see you have given me something to say that's comforting so the soldier so that even if he does fear that the war itself if for nought, he can have honor as your statement suggests.


    Glad I could help. You're right, it IS a hard question. Especially if you're, like me, someone who's never served themselves. I cannot speak from experience, but I can speak from the heart.
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    Mar 31, 2008 7:00 PM GMT
    thanks guys !!! this is going in the right direction now !!! Whew !!!!
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    Mar 31, 2008 7:31 PM GMT
    You don't try to make sense of war while you're in the midst of it. You try to make sense of why the guy to the left of you was killed and you were not, why you lost your arms or legs and survived and your buddy didn't, or why you were able survive that IED blast unscathed. Everything you may say about the war we already know, and more so. We're not locked away from all information, we can watch the news and make our own judgments. Despite our political leanings, we know that we have a job to do, no matter who is in office. Though we may want to question our leaders decisions, we know that is not our role (yet)- that is for civilians to decide. Look at my profile. See who's pictured in it. I knew what I was getting into when I went to Iraq. I didn't care. I cared about protecting the guys who were with me. Plain and simple. And you heard it jokingly all the time in Iraq, "I should've voted for Kerry, he would've had us out of here." I worked with so many contractors in Iraq, and we all knew they made TONS more money than we did. I mean a whole lot more. But we still were there to do a job, and that what was important. You don't blame the guy that sent you there, you blame the guy that planted that IED. So it's never all for nothing. It's all for the other people you serve with.

    EDIT:
    Wanted to add this- as someone who's been at the brunt of anti-war protesters, people who tell us that all we did was for nothing require us to maintain the greatest amount of physical restraint. That pisses us off to no end, no matter how liberal our viewpoint may be.
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    Mar 31, 2008 7:38 PM GMT
    Frankly I am not sure there is much you can say to them except they did what they thought was right based on the information they had at the time. And I am not sure the administration deliberately lied in order to get into Iraq, they looked at the information in a very slanted manner because they were so eager to invade and re-arrange the Middle East. Bob Woodward's book "Plan of Attack" is fascinating in terms of describing the dynamics between the CIA, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell. History is littered with leaders making critical bad decisions based on wishful thinking or groupthink.

    In life we rarely have all the information we need to make a 100% accurate decision. I know this is not necessarily comparable, but when I was having unprotected oral sex in the early 90's I thought I was engaging in very low risk behaviour. At that time that was the best information available. As it turns out what was very low risk is now considered lower risk.
  • coolarmydude

    Posts: 9190

    Mar 31, 2008 9:48 PM GMT
    A large reason behind the huge upswell in dissent within the ranks against Iraq policy is that troops are going on their fourth and even fifth rotations since the war began and aren't seeing real progress. There are pockets of reconstruction, but the overall infrastructure and the attitudes of the locals have troops rethinking what they do. When you return to the same zone of operations, you expect something refreshingly new, but too often, troops don't see it. They return to the same fractured country.
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    Mar 31, 2008 10:45 PM GMT
    Thanks to you service guys for joining in, your are the most valuable of opinions, since you know first hand what its like. and thanks for not taking this subject offensively, I have utmost respect for your feelings as we all do here I am sure. YOUR ONE HELL OF A GREAT GROUP OF PEOPLE
  • CuriousJockAZ

    Posts: 19129

    Mar 31, 2008 10:52 PM GMT
    I have talked to WAY more servicemen (and women) who have been to Iraq, believe in what we are doing there, and would go back again in a heartbeat if need be. Not in a million years would I suggest to any of them that their courage and hard work was for naught, because I don't believe that. This is a war we absolutely must win -- period. It doesn't matter now how we ended up there, or why we got there in the first place...all that matters now is that the job gets finished and that none of the brave men and women who lost their lives did so in vain.
  • auryn

    Posts: 2061

    Mar 31, 2008 11:34 PM GMT
    Wouldn't it matter on the level of depression that the person exhibits? I met an ex-Navy officer that didn't want to hear about how his partner's sacrifice was not in vain. He hated this war and the fact that a person that he loved was taken from him, so he sent all of his medals back to Bush. (Kept the uniform though, and man did he look HOT in it.)

    I don't really know how credible his story was since he said his male lover was taken from him, but I, unlike my friends around me, wasn't going to judge him without any facts. All I had to go with was the look in his eyes and that it was his story. I'm sure it's not an isolated event either.
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    Apr 01, 2008 7:20 AM GMT
    Well said CuriousJockAZ.
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    Apr 01, 2008 7:34 AM GMT
    I would never impose my personal feelings about this war on someone who has been there and may be "questioning" their service. Stuff like that is an emotional roller coaster and the only thing I can do is be there as a friend and listen. In fact I would consider it a gift to be used as a vehicle or tool for that friend to just release all that emotion. They need to let it out. They would know they have a safe zone when it comes to me. I just wouldn't step into all that questioning and try to sway them either way. It's a very personal journey they have to take on their own to come to their own conclusions. If there is a feeling of guilt over questioning all of it I'd let them know there is no shame in questioning. It's human nature to question everything presented before us. The one thing I would keep saying over and over is that they did their job valiantly.

    I'll be honest, of those that I personally know who have either served or are currently serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan not one of them has come back questioning any of it. In fact, there is a female friend of mine who couldn't wait to get back to Iraq.
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    Apr 02, 2008 4:16 AM GMT
    jsttennis77 - I put your suggestion to use while talking with my neices husband who still has baggage from Vietnam, some really troubling things for him to remember. These guys have a long battle don't they.