Saturday, March 24, 2012

24 March 2012 “They tell me that the fault line runs right through here”

The U.S. military doesn’t know who is fit to fight
            “. Psychologists can’t always immediately identify a private’s ability to cope with training and combat. There are no good tools to discern predisposition to emotional stress or assess for a history of concussions.
            “Soldiers fight a battalion of stresses: life-or-death missions, colleagues killed or badly injured, chronic aches from carrying heavy loads, disturbed sleep patterns, and exposure to foreign toxins, and explosions that shake the body and the brain. No tests adequately account for every issue. Questionnaires can’t distinguish between medical problems caused by IEDs, shock, drug and alcohol abuse, or diseases that affect thinking and behavior. Using surveys to evaluate men and women before and after their service doesn’t offer a clear picture of the whole person or of the circumstances leading to their injury…”
Cassi Creek:
          Words for the day are from the pen of Mama Cass Elliot:
I heard they exploded the
underground blast
They say it’s gonna happen -
gonna happen at last
That's the way it appears
They tell me the fault line runs
right through here…”
          This song referred to the potential risk that underground nuclear testing and geological detection and mapping by smaller blasts might somehow trigger a massive slippage along the San Andreas Fault.  Underground testing was terminated before that concern could be proven or disproven.  Modern practices still raise concerns that “fracking” may cause smaller slips and that it will damage wells and the water table. 
          VietNam was the war of Cass Elliot’s day.  It was also mine. 
          It isn’t that far a stretch to compare a fault line slippage to the mental slippage that happens to men and women affected by the continual insults of PTSD.  Many people who volunteer for the armed forces later find jobs in fields of endeavor that are also highly stressful in nature.  MP’s leave the service to become Cops.  Nurses leave military medicine for emergency medicine.  I left service as a line medic/medical corpsman to wind up in clinical lab.  On the journey from A > B I worked in OR, recovery, ICU, and kept the tension levels high. 
          Like other veterans, I was reluctant to admit that the things I saw and did bothered me upon returning to civilian life.  The ability to internalize such physical and mental trauma is, in many ways, more harmful than the trauma itself.  All soldiers should be considered injured after a combat tour.  Those who lose friends, and those who sustain injuries are even more at need of treatment. 
          When we get back to the world we left from the world we’ve adapted to, we’re right over that fault line between combat and the civilian world.  Sooner or later, it’s going to slip.  How large the slip depends upon how returning troops are brought back into this world.  

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