Juan Cole: Gloomy Veterans Day Post

Historians in the News

Juan Cole is in a gloomy mood this Veterans Day.

“On Veterans Day, he writes, “think about the thousands of U.S. dead and wounded in Iraq (for what purpose, exactly?), and think about Iraqi Veterans against the War . . .

“Typically this group and others like it are being denied a voice in public commemorations of the veterans (who apparently should be honored but should not actually be allowed to speak for themselves.)”

Citing newspaper accounts, Cole writes:

“2007 is the deadliest year yet for U.S. troops in Iraq.

“Some 48,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and have difficult coping with life back in the US.

“It is no surprise, then, that 200,000 veterans have been homeless at some point in the past year, and that veterans make up 26% of the homeless, even though they are only 11% of the population. Experts fear that many Iraq and Afghanistan vets will also end up homeless. The homelessness seems to me obviously an outgrowth of PTSD (which can lead to alcoholism and to the break-up of families, and generally to a reduction in emotional and kin support for an individual who seems habitually angry, distant, and acting a bit oddly).

“Ironically, among the best things you can do to support the veterans is to give regularly to your local homeless shelter. (We should all be doing that anyway, since it is not a cause that is easy to raise money for, and government has tended to fall down on the job in this regard. One third of the homeless are families with children. . . .)

“Health care for the Iraq veterans that actually is proffered by the US government will cost Americans at least $650 billion, or over $2,000 each. And even then there will be all those tens of thousands of homeless vets whose lives have been wrecked.”
Read entire article at Chronicle of Higher Education (CHE)

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