How can we allow this to happen? What can we do to stop it? Something is terribly wrong in our nation and it is not getting any better.

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    Jul 16, 2008 6:59 AM GMT
    Losing Private Dwyer

    By LAWRENCE DOWNES in the New York Times
    Published: July 15, 2008

    The photo below captures everything that Americans wanted to believe about the Iraq war in the earliest days of the invasion in 2003. Pfc. Joseph Dwyer, an Army medic whose unit was fighting its way up the Euphrates to Baghdad, cradles a wounded boy. The child is half-naked and helpless, but trusting. Private Dwyer’s face is strained but calm.


    If there are better images of the strength and selflessness of the American soldier, I can’t think of any. It is easy to understand why newspapers and magazines around the country ran the photo big, making Private Dwyer an instant hero, back when the war was a triumphal tale of Iraqi liberation.

    That story turned bitter years ago, of course. And the mountain of sorrows keeps growing: Mr. Dwyer died last month in North Carolina. He was 31 and very sick.

    For years he had been in and out of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder and addiction. He was seized by fearful delusions and fits of violence and rage. His wife left him to save herself and their young daughter.

    When the police were called to Mr. Dwyer’s apartment on June 28, he was alone. They broke down the door and found him dying among pill bottles and cans of cleaning solvent that friends said he sniffed to deaden his pain.

    He had been heading for a disastrous end ever since he came home.

    Two of his best friends were Angela Minor and Dionne Knapp, fellow medics at Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Tex. For a while, they were part of a small, inseparable group that worked together, ate out, went to movies and called one another by their first names, which is not the military habit.

    Joseph was a rock, Ms. Minor said, a guy who would change your oil and check your tires unasked and pick you up by your broken-down car at 3 a.m. Ms. Knapp said he was like an uncle to her son, Justin, who was having trouble in kindergarten and brightened whenever Mr. Dwyer went there to check on him.

    Ms. Knapp was called up to Iraq, but Mr. Dwyer insisted on taking her place, because she was a single mom. He had no children at the time, and besides, he had enlisted right after 9/11 just for this. He went and stunned everybody by getting his picture all over the newspapers and TV.

    A few months later, he was home. He was shy about his celebrity. He was also skinny and haunted. Ms. Minor said he was afraid. Ms. Knapp said paranoid was more like it.

    It didn’t help that El Paso looked a lot like Iraq. Once he totaled his car. He said had seen a box in the road and thought it was a bomb. He couldn’t go to the movies anymore: too many people. In restaurants, he sat with his back to the wall.
    He said that Iraqis were coming to get him. He would call Angela and Dionne at all hours, to talk vaguely about the “demons” that followed him all day and in his dreams. He became a Baptist, doggedly searching Scripture on his lunch hour — for solace. His friends knew he was also getting high with spray cans bought at computer stores.

    “He would call me in the middle of the day,” Ms. Minor said. “I’d be like: ‘Why are you at Best Buy? Why aren’t you at work?’ I could tell he’d been drinking and huffing again.”

    His friends tried an intervention, showing up at his door in October 2005 and demanding his guns and cans of solvent. He refused to give them up.

    Hours later, gripped by delusions, he shot up his apartment. He was glad when the SWAT team arrived, Ms. Knapp said, because then he could tell them where the Iraqis were.

    He was arrested and discharged, and later moved to Pinehurst, N.C. His parents tried to get him help, but nothing worked. “He just couldn’t get over the war,” his mother, Maureen, told a reporter. “Joseph never came home.”

    It’s not clear what therapy and medication could have saved Mr. Dwyer. He admitted lying on a post-deployment questionnaire about what he had seen and suffered because he just wanted to get back to his family. Ms. Minor said he sometimes skipped therapy appointments in El Paso.

    One thing that did seem to help, Ms. Knapp and Ms. Minor said, was peer counseling from a fellow veteran, a man who had been ambushed in Iraq and knew about fear and death. But that was too little, too late, and both women say they are frustrated with the military for letting Mr. Dwyer slip away.

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    Jul 16, 2008 7:05 AM GMT
    Private Dwyer, who survived rocket-propelled grenades and shocking violence, made his way back to his family and friends. But part of him was also stuck forever on a road in Iraq, helpless and terrified, with nobody to carry him to safety.

    My Only Comment:

    The fame of heroes owes little to the extent of their conquests and all to the success of the tributes paid to them. - Jean Genet
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    Jul 16, 2008 10:35 AM GMT
    This is a very tragic story but unfortunately one that has been repeated many times over the last nearly 100 years or so. PTSD first appeared in large numbers in World War I. At the time military officials reacted to it as an example of cowardice, of a soldier losing his "nerve". That view unfortunately persisted for many decades (remember the famous slapping of the soldier's face in "Patton"?).

    Many who suffered from it were like Private Dwyer very brave and dedicated soldiers whose psyche were eventually overwhelmed by what they experienced. The introduction of high-explosives and the horrific impact they can have on people seems to have been one of the triggers.

    The US military and government seems to have dropped the ball a bit when it comes to dealing with the casaulties of the Iraq war. I am not sure why this is, it is not as if this is the first war that has been fought!
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jul 16, 2008 11:03 AM GMT
    With all the flag waving and the slogans of how "We support the troops"
    It's all patriotic hogwash
    We don't support the troops
    We put them in a nightmare... tell them to do something that's utterly impossible, which is quell the uprising Iraq
    all the while watch your friends and colleagues get killed in horrific ways at the same time you think you up next
    then after multiple deployments it's ... nice job c'ya

    It cracks me up how hypocritical these warmongers are
    You have the White House and McSame trying to vote against something like the GI Bill that Jim Web drafted and no one says anything
    You have a White House that sent these men and women off to fight this illegal war and there's silence
    no winder they come back to alcohol to drugs to domestic violence and suicide
    You cannot use people like human attack dogs and then throw a switch esp when the reason they are fighting is an inherently false one
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    Jul 16, 2008 2:17 PM GMT

    When will people realize that fighting for someone else's ideas against people who are also fighting for someone else's ideas is not the way things are done.

    These people have no personal gripes against the people they are killing and being killed by. Sent in lieu of the people who DO have gripes but are sitting in command centers safely away from the hell the troops are fighting in.

    Fighting for what exactly? Protection. And yet the other side probably fights for the same reason. They're puppets strung along by ideas of 'nationalism', 'pride', 'honor', 'vengeance', 'God', etc. Not realizing that sooner or later, whether they win or lose, it will cause another war and another and another. Fighting for peace... the tragic oxymoron. Ouroborus indeed.

    I'm idealistic and anarchist. LOL. I believe that governments, leaders, nations, even lawmakers should eventually be done away with for civilization to proceed further... but not just yet. icon_confused.gif

    Unfortunately as long as one side is fighting, the other has not choice but to retaliate. We're still children.

    I really am pacifist, but in this world. That's something impossible to practice.

    Sign me up for the colony ship to Mars, hmk? icon_razz.gif
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    Jul 17, 2008 3:31 AM GMT
    My dad was a marine and served two tours in vietnam. He has never talked much about it but my mom told us stories of what happened over there.

    He would find his friends that had been captured hanging upside down from a tree and their dick cut off and strangled with it.

    He found his best friend buried from the neck down with a box over his head where a live rat literally ate him alive...they only knew who it was from his dog tags.

    My dad wakes up at night still to this day digging in the bed, trying to unbury his best friend. He gets drunk all the time talking of vietnam and especially is depressed on memorial day.

    They went through all that and came home and were spit on, literally.

    And now my son is a marine and just returned from Iraq. He has two years left and I think hes going to get out then. I pray he can get out before anything damaging to his mind occurs.

    I wish the United States was as concerned with the state of its own people and affairs as they were everyone elses...we would be alot better off.
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    Jul 18, 2008 1:49 AM GMT
    This young mans case I think and hope will bring more attention to the plight of our young service men and wemon returning from a war that "somethings just not right about". There's a difference between for instance the 1st and 2nd world war versus the Vietnam war, and this Iraq war. The first two there was a much clearer "REASON FOR WAR", anyone awake to reality including the soldiersm know that the real reasons behind the last two wars are not what was and what is being promoted. Terroristic methods used in the last two wars were unusual in the first two, or are at the least more prevalent. The things some have seen cannot be wiped off the minds "slate", its a problem that I'm not sure there even is a total cure for. I was a landlord to many 80+ year old men who still broke down if they even talked about what they saw, but I've always noticed that they could hold their heads high and in part what helped them was the good that they did. Theres not much hope for good coming out of a war based on lies, so there's no safety in justification for this war to help these guys and gals give meaning to what they saw and did.
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    Jul 18, 2008 2:30 AM GMT
    ursamajor-- you asked how we can allow this to happen? and how to stop it? Well I think the background to the answer is that we the US Public were sucked into a Lie based war, with "THE MUSLIM TERRORISTS HATE OUR FREEDOMS", THE MUSLIM TERRORISTS WANT TO DO US HARM", "IRAQ HAS WMD's and WILL USE THEM ON US, SO WE MUST FIGHT THEM IN IRAQ RATHER THAN HERE","SUPPORT THE TROOPS", "SUPPORT THE WAR EFFORT and BACK YOUR LEADERS", "RESPECT THE GENERALS", "IF YOUR NOT WITH US, YOUR OUR ENEMY". and anyone who questioned this administration or disagreed, lost their jobs, were belittled and scorned and looked down upon as unpatriotic. So most of the country fell right in line, and we put our young folk out there to fight this unjust and needless war before we caught onto what really was behind it. Senators and Congressmen went along to get along and before they realized what was really going on were sucked in and a part of the problem and afraid to stand up to what was wrong because they themselves had lent their support in one way or another to the overal mess that this war became. Now we have soldiers coming home with scars of mind and when they see the truth of the real background to the war are unable to sort out and make any sense or good of what they did. (this isn't the case 100% of the time, because some have been able to do some good, but the overal picture isn't of having accomplished good, and its become obvious to most) The whole war from its start to finish has been one scam after another, abuses of power, contracts to chronies, abuses of the civilians rights and the prisoners rights, needless destruction, obvious lies and coverups from the very top, setting the low standards and the soldiers at the bottom pay for it the most. They see all this and come home and how in the hell does ones mind make sense of the terrible occurances, knowing that it didn't and shouldn't have been. I think the only way to fix this mess of bush/cheney's origination, and to stop it, is for them to be prosecutedand, made an example of for their crimes, because what they have purpotrated on the Iraqi people, our soldiers, the chaos in the world, the horrendous costand debt to our country, the lies to get us into this war for control of oil, all this is the epitomy of evil power hungry fools !!! As for what this has brought onto these young people, I'm not sure if the mind can be totally healed. Its a terribly unneccessary tragedy !!!!
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    Jul 18, 2008 2:46 AM GMT
    Excellent post RLD.