Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched on Washington today to demand that traumatized troops not be sent back in to combat. After gathering outside Walter Reed Army Medical Center, veterans and civilian members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Civilian Soldier Alliance, and Ethan McCord of the film Collateral Damage marched 6 miles to Capitol Hill to launch Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops.
During a press conference on Capitol Hill, veterans testified about their experiences being redeployed while traumatized and delivered a letter to government and military officials requesting an end to the deployment of traumatized troops. (See the article on CNN.)
“October 7th marks the 9-year anniversary of the Afghanistan War, the longest ongoing war in U.S. history. Pressure from fighting two wars has put enormous strain on U.S. troops, with multiple deployments leading to an explosion of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder,” Iraq Veterans Against the War said in a press release.
“PTSD makes service members six times more likely to commit suicide. Instead of being treated, troops are often redeployed to combat while still suffering from PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Military Sexual Trauma. Officials recognize that suicides and violent crimes are on the rise, with four decorated combat vets killing themselves at Ft. Hood in one week.”
“I was denied treatment for the mental and physical wounds I sustained in battle, like so many others,” says Ethan McCord, a veteran whose unit was captured in the “Collateral Murder” video distributed by Wikileaks. “IVAW’s campaign is critical for soldiers because we are asserting our right to heal. Now, the government has a choice – will it recognize our right to heal, or deny it?”
“Right now, 20 percent of our fighting force are being deployed on at least one psychotropic medication. These are common medications that are used for things like PTSD and TBI [Traumatic Brain Injury],” said IVAW member Jason Hurd. “I myself am a 100 percent disabled veteran with PTSD. The same medications that I’m currently on, things like Trazedone and things like Prozac, our soldiers are getting sent to Iraq and Afghanistan on these very same drugs, and I’m disabled. So, what does that say…?” Hurd served as a medic in Iraq.