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Supporting the troops

March 19th, 2009

Over Spring Break, I had the opportunity to do absolutely nothing. However, after an intense and forgetful night with a visiting roommate and friend in downtown Erie, Pa., I watched the movie “In the Valley of Elah” for the second time. If you have not seen this movie, I recommend you do.

It accounts a frightening and sad reality occurring within the United States military, specifically affecting troops who have served in Iraq. Many of these young men and women become embattled after serving and experience post-traumatic stress disorder when they return home. The military blatantly ignores this growing problem due to a substantial demand for boots on the ground.

To be fair, military leaders are dealing with an array of difficulties that cannot be underestimated. Nevertheless, atrocities committed by returning troops must be dealt with effectively and cannot be overlooked. Some have trouble distinguishing friend and foe, and in extreme cases, commit heinous crimes. They take on violent actions that can result in the murder of loved ones and fellow troops. Others sometimes commit suicide because of their disorder.

One such case that I became informed of is the one surrounding Army Specialist Richard Davis, also the inspiration behind “In the Valley of Elah.” Davis fought in some of the fiercest battles in Iraq and returned home in 2003. After returning, the young man was brutally murdered by four fellow squad members and his body was left burning in the woods.

Whatever your feelings about the war, the brave men and women who serve our country never deserve such treatment. In fact, these men and women should only be admired, honored and respected. But serving in such complex and prolonged conflicts requires that soldiers have access to treatment and assistance to deal with any mental disorders stemming from military service.

These disorders are, in effect, plaguing the military and have caused immense difficulties for too many individuals. Situations like Davis’ and Abu Gharib can never be tolerated and mandate government investment into prevention methods. This means allocating whatever resources necessary to help our troops cope with the stresses of war.
Emphatically educating and preparing these troops is essential to succeeding in Iraq and in the war against terror.

Moreover, the president and Congress must press for fair investigations within the military to avoid further pain and suffering. Otherwise, the military will continue lowering its standards for enlistment to meet recruiting goals. This places our brave soldiers in greater danger and makes failure inevitable.

Dealing with the realities of war is already enough to expect of troops. Expecting them to deal with additional dangers cannot and should not be acceptable. These brave men and women deserve only the best available people, programs and treatments. It is our duty to provide this.

They give so much for this country; it is only fair that we return the favor.
Please visit www.richarddavisforpeace.and sign the petition to investigate the increased murders of troops, because these soldiers deserve more.