The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Mental Illness Affects 1 of 6 Iraqi War Veterans

Jul 19, 2004

A significant number of U.S. soldiers returning from the war in Iraq are experiencing emotional disorders. A recent study carried out through Walter Reed Army Institute of Research shows that 17% are suffering major depression, severe anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Yes, of course. They have been carrying out a dirty war and occupation–one they never wanted or decided on. GI’s speak of the guilt they feel when soldiers they knew were killed nearby, or guilt from participating in operations causing the death of Iraqis, especially civilians.

Doctors specializing in PTSD of veterans are warning that figures of mental illness are likely to increase; that it takes time for troops experiencing symptoms to recognize them and seek help. This study was conducted 3 to 4 months after troops returned from Iraq. Whereas in the first Gulf War, studies weren’t conducted until years after the war was over, and decades after the Viet Nam War ended; and only after veterans groups persistently called for it.

It’s impossible not to recall the number of guys who returned home from Viet Nam with permanent terrible psychological scars. Testimony to this are the large number of Viet Nam vets included in the homeless on street corners and in soup kitchen lines still today.

Anyone who thinks doesn’t need a study to know that war is horrible. But this study is interesting because it’s the government’s own admission that it is producing a new generation damaged in ways that will not heal easily.