The War at Home

Friday, January 25, 2008


The first piece in the The New York Times“War Torn” series – about Iraq War veterans who’ve committed homicide here at home – sparked criticism and praise among the military and the blogosphere. It also contributed to the emerging narrative in the media about the Iraq War vet. Brooke talks with veterans and the reporters who cover them about capturing the nuances of the story.

Comments [9]

Brian B Felder

It is impossible to serve in Iraq or a war environment and not walk away differently. Every soldier who has ever served will take away something different and will be effected in unique ways. Many soldiers including myself have walked away with a better appreciation for life and the standard of living that we have grown to love in America. Unfortunately, some soldiers can never recover from the stress, consequences and side effects of war. These things include watching your battle buddy injuried or die in combat, receiving dear John letters from home, being away from loved ones, and dealing with financial stress and living conditions. I contribute my post Iraq success to my belief and relationship with GOD. If more soldiers had a faith based support system before, during and after combat, I believe you would see a decrease in PTSD and suicide cases.

Dec. 26 2010 03:37 PM
LT Nixon from Baghdad, Iraq

NPR, great piece! Thanks for having the fortitude to discuss veterans issues. I wrote about your piece in the context of veterans returning to society located at this url:

My only gripe is that you spelled Paul Rieckhoff's name wrong, haha, but no worries, he's good people, I'm sure he won't be upset.

Feb. 05 2008 08:51 AM
chuck thompson from bristol bay, alaska

The oblique reference to Bush (and other Administration and Pentagon officials who bothered) visiting soldiers in Iraq having cherry-picked a gung-ho audience (instead of the guys in mental-health infirmaries) suggests that there might be less support for Bush among G.I's than meets the casual eye.

Truth is that time after depressingly time, those returning troops I've talked to are incredibly supportive of the Bush Administration and this war.
This marks a sea-change from the Vietnam era, where hardly ANY of the troops sent to S.E. Asia supported THAT ; indeed, they were ready to remove any Administration that contined the effort.

Today, we have an entire cadre of soldiers -- and also, it should be mentioned, VOTERS -- who were sent into harm's way and are just as happy as clams about it.

If some of these then get stressed or psycho, don't blame me. I'm among those who've tried desperately to never have these combat troops sent there in the FIRST place! The fact that each soldier who voted for Bush cancelled my vote makes me a lot less sympathetic towards their plight, this being an almost classic case of "you made your bed, now sleep in it."

To me, its a paradoxical situation I find completely baffling. Still, liberal that I am, I can't help but be sympathetic. It's the curse of the liberal.

It's what makes us different from reactionaries.

Jan. 31 2008 04:54 AM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I think there is a little bit of cultural amnesia here.

Neither the anti-war movement nor the American public were of a one mind on the subject of returning soldiers but there were really horrible incidents of disrespect offered, especially after My Lai and, crucially, Kent State to returning Vets and to anyone in uniform. I suspect many soldiers internalized it as being blamed for the loss of the war, though it was really horror at atrocity.

This war has its own atrocities associated with it, but we should steel ourselves to realize that if we put people in untenable positions hell breaks loose and none of us is in a position to say that we didn’t put these soldiers in such circumstances.

OK, maybe Dennis Kucinich could.

Jan. 31 2008 12:30 AM
Daniel from Brooklyn, NY

A good story altogether, I thought, with an unfortunate error: The first film about John Rambo, First Blood, was released in 1982, closer to 30 years ago than to 20; the third film was released exactly 20 years ago.

Possibly the series's unusual approach to title sequencing threw you for a loop:

First Blood (1982)
Rambo: First Blood Part 2 (1985)
Rambo III (1988)

(Please don't ask me how they came up with that approach, or how I happen to carry around this information in my head. Cheers.)

Jan. 28 2008 06:41 PM
larry from newark, de

Brooke's statement, delivered rather off-hand as if it were an established fact, that we blamed the Viet-Nam vets for the war was very irritating to me. Those men were drafted instead of me. Their parents weren't able to get them out of the country, as mine would have had I been drafted. These men are to be blamed for not being me, and nothing else. I've never treated a Viet-Nam vet with disrespect, and none of my friends have, either. Last week it was the MIC's argument to Dennis Kucinich. This week it's the VFW's view of the dirty hippies. Maybe it's time for Brooke to retire from broadcasting and take up her true calling as a PR exec. for GE. She sure stinks when the truth about war is involved.

Jan. 27 2008 07:01 PM
Fang Di from MPLS

Unfortunately Brooke repeats the common myth that soldiers were blamed (presumably by antiwar Americans) for losing the Vietnam War and then is backed up by a guest commentator who asserts toward the end that today's vets are getting good treatment 'regardless of the views of the war'. The whole subtext is based on an irrational assumption that the anti-Vietnam War movement was based on anger at the soldiers for 'losing' the war. Reality is the opposition to the war was opposition to the warmakers, i.e. the politicians, generals, and corporations that benefitted from war contracts. Thus it would have been totally irrational to 'blame' the soldiers for 'losing' a war they didn't make. The antiwar movement was opposed to the US intervention in the Vietnamese' affairs, period.
This report then is confused. It would seem that Brooke has missed key arguments in Jerry Lembcke's *The Spitting Image*, and chooses to repeat myths about the Vietnam War era that have no logical connection to the social reality of the movement against the US war in Vietnam.

Jan. 27 2008 12:28 PM
Jamie Crownover

The media plays a big role in how Americans view the war. One article has stated that 121 veterans have come home after commiting a homocide in Iraq. The article did not, however, comment on how that statisitic is very small compared to other wars. The media also fails to recognize the number of verterans who have come home from Irap and are in need of mental stabalization. The war is extreemely compatible with Vietnam in the sence that no solider has come home from Iraq unchanged. Some for the better and some for the worse. Though soliders are treated with great respect and dignity when approached by citizens of America. The media would be better off covering the impact these soliders are making in Iraq and the tasks the military is successfully completing while making a difference for unfortunate families.

Jan. 27 2008 12:10 PM
andrew hennessy from Suburbs of Washington

In a context of American mobilization, your guest asserts the current war of terrorism is like WWII. The assertion goes unnoticed. The terrorist threat is hardly equal to the axis powers of WWII. Terrorism can only destroy us if we let the fear of terrorism run our country. There are threats to “America’s strategic interests.” As far as I can tell “America’s strategic interests” are energy control, plutocracy, cultural hegemony, empire, “New World Order,” etc. While the fear of terror continues to sell, the lack of American mobilization suggests the lack of an existential threat.

Jan. 26 2008 10:51 AM

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