Sunday, March 16, 2008

Winter soldiers and war stories

Winter Soldier: America Must Hear These Vets' Stories
If America listens to what they say, the war would be over tomorrow.

I missed the Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971. At the time I was married to a vet who desperately wanted to put his war behind him - and he wanted me to help him do it. We were supposed to pretend it had never happened. It didn't work.

Daniel refused to talk about Vietnam. "Talk to your old lady? No fucking way," his friend Bobby Lanz shot back when I said I thought that maybe Daniel wouldn't have killed himself if I had been able to get him to talk about whatever it was that was causing him such pain. "With other vets, you can say, 'shit man, I did all this horrible stuff. You're not going to believe the stuff I did', and someone who has been there will say, 'Yeah, so did I, so did we all.' But with your woman? You start to talk about having fucked some folks up bad, doing awful things, killing people, maybe, and she starts to cry and you don't go there again. You think, Fuck me, man, I don't need to hurt her. This is psychological abuse, so I am going to shut up."

Maybe I wouldn't have understood. Completely. But not knowing was far worse. For decades, I took responsibility for his death. I thought it was my fault. And even if I hadn't been able to understand exactly what he was talking about, I would have understood that he was in a kind of lethal pain. Whether it was that he thought he deserved to die or that he deserved to be put out of his misery, either way, execution or euthanasia, I would have understood that he had been injured in the war. And I would have known where to focus my grief and my rage.
Read Winter Soldier: America Must Hear These Vets' Stories
by Penny Coleman ~ AlterNet ~ March 15, 2008

Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam Veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006.

Her website is FLASHBACK - Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War.

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War hits home at reading of troops’ stories
One by one, the stories came tumbling down from a starkly lit stage in downtown Tacoma.

Stories of heartache, homesickness and humor. The kinds of stories only troops who have seen battle, and families who have waited for them to return home, can tell.

Washington, D.C., author Andrew Carroll and the National Endowment for the Arts collected thousands of pages of those stories in letters, e-mails and journals written by military service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Carroll compiled them, along with messages from military families, into the 2006 book, “Operation Homecoming.”

On Saturday, South Sound actors Anders Bolang, Megan Cooper, Aaron Jacobs and Drew Shannon brought the words to life, along with the words of local troops and family members that were collected and edited by Tacoma’s Broadway Center for the Performing Arts.

The one-day performance was the first for a new script Carroll has edited from the book.
Read War hits home at reading of troops’ stories
by Debbie Cafazzo ~ The News Tribune - Tacoma, WA ~ March 16, 2008

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