We should think very hard about when and where we send out troops to fight. And more importantly, what it means to help our warriors transition home to a new life. War is hell, and it leaves deep marks in the soul of those who fight it. The moral injury of war often results in unspeakable acts and experiences which make it all the more important to face the consequences bravely.
In World War II it was usually easy to identify the enemy, they were the “Nazis” or the “yellow-skinned” Japanese. Us vs. them. The guys running next to tanks with Swastikas on them or the hoard dug into the island we were about to land on set on fire. In Afghanistan and Iraq though it usually isn’t so obvious. People and the enemy are all around you, and it usually is never clear until they are shooting at you who the enemy is or isn’t. It can be a 24/7 hyper-vigilant zone of fear and death. In the middle of cities, villages, families, and children.
As a result, combat soldiers in both theatres faced and are still facing in Afghanistan heart-breaking choices like the young Marine in the attached article. We aren’t supposed to be fighting children. Who uses children in battle? But what do you do when a 13-year old boy raises an AK-47 at you and your buddies and how do you live with that image when you are home in the USA where things like that aren’t supposed to happen? It is a moral injury of war that can leave a young man shattered.
After reading this article, think about the many veterans who we have put in that horrible situation. When your son, daughter, father, son, etc. are home and sitting there very still with the 10,000 yard stare for the hundredth time, remember that war is hell. Remember that we should always be aware of the burden it places on those we send to fight and the moral injury that can face them. And remember that when they come home the real battle to help them begins. Muster all the love and patience you can to help them through the horror.
We must be totally committed to helping them heal. If we aren’t willing to do everything in our power to help them face these demons, we should never send them in the first place. I mean that. It is why my family and I have been willing to sacrifice all that we have to help them. We need more people to do the same.
You will be disturbed by this, but it needs to be read.