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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Trauma that cannot be “un-remembered”—a mother mourns her veteran son

Our own also suffer endlessly in endless U. S. wars
Editing, beginning and ending comments
by Carolyn Bennett

ogether with unspeakable horrors perpetrated on hundreds of thousands of peoples whom U.S. plutocracy have invaded, displaced, slaughtered, terrorized across the world – are the lies told and lies believed, and the unspeakable horrors perpetrated upon America’s young.

The U.S. Model: Use, Abuse, Discard

Multiple re-deployments into war zones exact “incalculable mental and emotional costs on America's men and women in uniform and on their families.” The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly has logged an estimate of a military veteran suicide every 65 minutes. In 2012, the number of veteran suicides was greater than U.S. soldiers killed in combat.

“One in 5 veterans of U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.…” Three-quarters of young male troops saw someone seriously injured or killed. More than half were attacked or ambushed. Eighty-eight percent received incoming fire. In the minds of these soldiers, the traumatic memories play and replay over and over [referenced: U.S. Army Surgeon General Report, 2008]

Twenty-year-old Levi Derby, born May 13, 1981, in Cissna Park, Illinois, joined the U.S. Army in 2001, and after six months was dropped into the U.S. war on Afghanistan. As a veteran, the United States provided him no health care coverage. After multiple deployments, the horrors of war, and untreated trauma, Levi Derby ended his life.

“Inpatient mental health hospitalization” in the United States reportedly averages around “$2,000” a day. A two to four-week stay costs “$14,000” to “$30,000” – costs which most U.S. families cannot afford without government coverage.  

Levi Derby in his mother’s words

On his return to the United States, U.S. veteran Derby had become increasingly isolated. He was reportedly “not taking care of himself or working and was having recurring nightmares about his experience at war.” One day he and his family realized that he needed inpatient health treatment and decided to take him to a hospital; but en route to the hospital, he reflected on the high cost of treatment and his lack of health care coverage and asked his grandmother who was taking him to return home.

is mother was speaking in the Press TV documentary “The Battle Within.”

We send them back over and over and over. No person can handle that. You see things in war that you can’t un-live. You can’t un-remember. It’s there with you forever; and to make them go back multiple times is way too much. No human can handle that.

He came home and all he had was a dead stare … like the walking dead. You could see anger in him and a coldness; the happy son I had known, who had loved life so much, loved children and animals now seemed like this shell of a person.

He was not home long the first time before he was told he would be shipping off to Iraq. He could not bear to go into war again. He had told me when he came home that he had killed and he would never ever kill again.

When he came home they had him on pills to sleep, pills to deal with the nightmares, pills for the anxiety attacks. 

He always had a prescription for Lorazepam for the anxiety attacks. 

Then the doctor that was treating him … said that his PTSD was so severe that he couldn’t tell for certain that he also didn’t suffer from bipolar disorder; and they started trying to treat him with medication for that; so many medications they tried [and] he ended up having allergic reactions to them. 

My son also possibly had a traumatic brain injury that was never diagnosed. From the time that he had come back until the time he died – sometimes blood would trickle out of his ear and down his neck. After his death, when I took the sheets off his bed, there were blood stains on the bed from his ears having bled while he was sleeping.

This veteran’s mother said her son “had felt betrayed by our government and his family and his friends” but “had he been given the proper treatment, he could still be here today.” Instead this young man hanged himself using “the same chain hoist that [his grandfather] had swung him on in a car tire when he was a little boy.”  The soldier’s departing words: 

‘I’m sorry I could not take it anymore so it is time for me to go, to go to where the sun is always sunny and the grass is always green and the flowers smell like honey.’

Twenty-two veterans end their lives every day, the documentary reported, and this is not even the full count. Considered in epidemic proportions, U.S. veterans are killing themselves at rates that “more than double” those of the civilian population. Between 2005 and 2011, an estimated “49,000” U.S. veterans took their lives.

 t is not enough to mourn our own or even to mourn the epidemic in soldier suicide. 

It is time for a new model to replace the U.S. model of use-abuse-discard. Time to try nonviolence in domestic and international relations. Time to find other means of meeting challenges and solving problems. Time to evolve from the barbarity of war and war making. Time to stop the killing.

Sources and notes

“The Battle Within,” Press TV documentary Synopsis: “Apart from memories, a heartfelt suicide note is now the only keepsake a mother has of her son, the son whom she lost to constant recurring nightmares of the atrocities he witnessed in Afghanistan. His is by no means an isolated case. According to the US Department of Veteran Affairs, every 65 minutes a military veteran commits suicide. In 2012 more US soldiers killed themselves than died in combat. Treatment for Iraq and Afghanistan vets suffering from PTSD has cost more than 2 billion dollars so far. Multiple redeployments into war zones have not only had unprecedented financial costs for the US government but incalculable mental and emotional costs on America’s men and women in uniform and their families, a clear indication that the greatest casualties of war are seldom on the battlefield.” September 21, 2014,

Wikipedia on Lorazepam

After its introduction in 1977, Lorazepam’s principal use was in treating anxiety. Among benzodiazepines, Lorazepam has a relatively high physical addiction potential and is recommended for short-term use, up to two to four weeks, only. Long-term effects of benzodiazepines include tolerance, dependence, a benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome, and cognitive impairments which may not completely reverse after cessation of treatment….Withdrawal symptoms can range from anxiety and insomnia to seizures and psychosis.

Lorazepam is used for the short-term treatment of anxiety, insomnia, acute seizures including status epilepticus [a life-threatening condition in which the brain is in a state of persistent seizure], and sedation of hospitalized patients, as well as sedation of aggressive patients.  Adverse effects that may occur include anterograde amnesia [loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia], depression, and paradoxical effects [the same ailments the drug is supposed to cure] such as excitement or worsening of seizures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lorazepam


A lifelong American writer and writer/activist (former academic and staffer with the U.S. government in Washington), Dr. Carolyn LaDelle Bennett is credentialed in education and print journalism and public affairs (PhD, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; MA, The American University, Washington, DC). Her work concerns itself with news and current affairs, historical contexts, and ideas particularly related to acts and consequences of U.S. foreign relations, geopolitics, human rights, war and peace, and violence and nonviolence. Dr. Bennett is an internationalist and nonpartisan progressive personally concerned with society and the common good. An educator at heart, her career began with the U.S. Peace Corps, teaching in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Since then, she has authored several books and numerous current-affairs articles; her latest book: UNCONSCIONABLE: How The World Sees Us: World News, Alternative Views, Commentary on U.S. Foreign Relations; most thoughts, articles, edited work are posted at Bennett’s Study: http://todaysinsightnews.blogspot.com/ and on her Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/carolynladelle.bennett. http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/08UNCONSCIONABLE/prweb12131656.htm http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-000757788/UNCONSCIONABLE.aspx Her books are also available at independent books in New York State: Lift Bridge in Brockport; Sundance in Geneseo; Dog Ears Bookstore and Literary Arts Center in Buffalo; Burlingham Books in Perry; The Bookworm in East Aurora


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