The hidden cost of the allied invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan

Early in January, Class Warfare, in a piece entitled Towards the Guilt Free Soldier, reported on the problem the US army was having with traumatised soldiers and how it was seeking to introduce narcotics to counter the problem. This piece followed one I posted in November – Suicide Epidemic Among US Veterans.

This week we hear similar harrowing stories from the US and British press.

Several sites carry this story.

“The Pentagon reports more than 68,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded, injured, or stricken ill in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals and clinics have treated over 260,000 patients from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. “On top of that, the VA has reported nearly 250,000 disability claims from veterans of the two wars. Studies show as many as half of the 1.6 million soldiers sent to fight in Iraq will return with post-traumatic stress disorder and a fifth are returning with traumatic brain injury, physical brain damage often caused by roadside bombs. “

Today’s Observer, reports on how the war is affecting British veterans of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan

“At the time of writing, 261 British service personnel have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. More than 4,000 have been injured and 52 have lost limbs, half of them in the past 18 months. Tellingly, in a society submerged in statistics the incidence of broken marriages, suicides, alcoholism, deep depression and homelessness among service veterans remains largely unquantified…..Often they leave home, some heading to London for a fresh start where they find themselves in limbo with nothing to their name. There are no flags, no bands, no glorious memories.”

Whilst we are now aware that more Falklands War vets committed suicide than were killed in that conflict, there are no records as yet for the number of Iraq-Afghanistan vets who have taken their own lives, unable to cope, because details for their army service are not recorded on their death certificates. Neither are statistics available for suicides amongst reservists, believed to be more prone to mental health problems. Right now, researchers at Manchester University are working their way through records going back five years in an attempt to ascertain the British army suicide rate. As the Observer notes: “Their findings, to be published this spring, are expected to be shocking.”

“Nearly a quarter of those deployed in conflict for longer than 13 months have 'severe' drink issues. Eighteen British service personnel a week are testing positive for drug use involving cannabis, ecstasy or cocaine. Typically, the deepest scars affecting those returning to civvy street are in the mind. Combat Stress, which helps veterans with mental-health problems, has seen a 27 per cent rise in referrals. Yet more than half of those with psychological problems do not receive a war pension and cannot qualify for funding to help with their treatment. The average time-lag for post-traumatic stress to surface is 13 years; only in 2020 will we know the true fallout of the current operations.”

But what of those who sent these soldiers to war, the likes of Blair and Bush and the people behind the scenes, the oil cartels, the contractors, the ones who really wanted a war, the ones who really benefit? Do they suffer mental breakdown. On the contrary they have never been so happy. Their lifestyles have improved. They continue to profit enormously from the war for oil and eagerly await the expansion of the War in Iran. There’s profits to be had and to hell with the cost in human life, mental breakdown or family split-up. For his part, Blair has secured lucrative advisory posts with trans-national corporations, such as the notoriously corrupt JP Morgan. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for they are wars, have made Blair rich beyond his wildest dreams – he served his masters well in Washington and now he is being rewarded big time.

And whilst it is easy to get angry about the way in which soldiers in Britain and the US are perceived as the expendable cannon fodder by their leaders, what of the Iraqis, the Afghan people? Putting aside the million-and-half dead in these countries since they were invaded, how many more are suffering trauma, mental breakdown and with no chance of help whatsoever? The true figure, if it could be estimated, would beggar belief and totally dwarf any statistics for US/British service personnel.

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