"The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me, is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war." - LTG Ricardo Sanchez, former Commander MNF-Iraq (to reporters upon retirement October 2007).
One year ago, the New York Times crafted statistics over a five year period that showed 121 deaths caused by soldiers returning from war. Many blogs took apart the shoddy work in that article - especially the lame comparisons to annual statistics that didn't divulge that the 121 deaths were over a five year period.
I posted a piece about the NYTimes attempts to make vets look like murdering psychopaths, appropriately enough, in our Bust Their Chops category. I also wrote a follow up after receiving emails from the Public Editor and the author of the article. Here is what I wrote at that time:
...The end of the piece discusses the motivations of the reporters - concern for veterans returning from a war zone. As all of us know, the system doesn't work very well and many vets are not cared for. There are lots of reasons for this - and certainly there are very many dedicated people in the VA trying to help - but the VA needs money and, most likely, a new plan. A "Surge" for veterans care, if you will.
I, for one, believe the New York Times reporters were concerned about the vets. But I am also inclined to believe that they were pushing a stereotype, one that began with Viet Nam vets, and their stories fit their own mental narratives. Obviously, I cannot prove that. But it does ring true for anyone who's experienced that kind of bias before - "Soldiers and Dogs Keep Off the Grass".
One of you readers sent me a very compelling email but asked me to withhold it. Bottom-line: If you have a lot of veterans who have been trained to kill and they are all very likely to become unhinged, there would be a lot more murders than less than 121...
Essentially, I accuse the reporters of using inflammatory language and bunked stats to make their point that veterans were in danger of becoming murderers and criminals, etc.
Now the New York Times and the SAME reporter are at it again in Colorado at Fort Carson.
A Focus on Violence by Returning G.I.’s
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ and DAN FROSCH
Published: January 1, 2009
FORT CARSON, Colo. — For the past several years, as this Army installation in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains became a busy way station for soldiers cycling in and out of Iraq, the number of servicemen implicated in violent crimes has raised alarm.
Nine current or former members of Fort Carson’s Fourth Brigade Combat Team have killed someone or were charged with killings in the last three years after returning from Iraq. Five of the slayings took place last year alone. In addition, charges of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault have risen sharply...
But you must read the response from combat vet, Old Blue at Bill and Bob's Afghan Adventure. Here's a taste of Old Blue's response:
...PTSD is also a big issue in the Army. You cannot come home on leave from a combat theater until you've got your chit that you've been through the awareness class at Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait. I think I still have mine somewhere. It's an issue of some conversation both inside and outside the military. I even saw a news clip on the Pentagon Channel News today about a DoD round table addressing depression and suicide in the military.
As she did last year, Lizette found a well-meaning senior officer who was willing to talk to her. This officer, MG Mark Graham, has lost a son in combat and another, an ROTC cadet who struggled with depression and ceased his medication for fear that it would cost him his Army career, to suicide. MG Graham has understandably made soldier mental health one of his prime concerns as the commander of Fort Carson, Colorado; which happens to be the focus of Alvarez' piece. Lizette took advantage of MG Graham's willingness to speak openly about such issues to couch her article in authority.
In her triumphal return to her pet subject, Alvarez announces somberly that in the past three years, there have been nine murders perpetrated by current and former members of the 4th BCT, a unit stationed at Fort Carson. There apparently weren't any from the remaining units on Fort Carson, judging from her reporting...
Read Old Blue's entire piece here. It's worth your time.
Some prior Blackfive PTSD Posts: