The Iraqi and Afghanistan wars, during which over 6000 American soldiers were killed, have inflicted longstanding trauma on American society. Earlier this month, a new shooting took place at the U.S. Army base of Fort Hood in Texas. The shooter, diagnosed with mental health issues, had been deployed in the Iraqi war. As one of the largest United States military installations in the world, many of the soldiers at Fort Hood were deployed to the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars. A fatal shooting happened on the same base in 2009, where 13 were killed and more than 30 were injured. U.S. president Obama said that he was “heartbroken” over the incidents.
According to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation，more than half of the 2.6 million Americans dispatched to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan struggle with physical or mental health problems stemming from their service; one in two say they know a fellow service member who has attempted or committed suicide, and more than 1 million suffer from relationship problems and experience outbursts of anger, both of which are indicators of post-traumatic stress. Meanwhile, as more and more veterans withdraw from overseas deployment, the Department of Veterans Affairs is hamstrung by a lack of personnel and budget and struggles to deal with these problems effectively.
Ironically, though president Obama proclaims himself “heartbroken” over such tragedies, the US has not lost its appetite for foreign wars. Its voluntary military service system has created an army that deems war its profession. As retired Marine master sergeant Kenneth Harmon put it: “Right, wrong or indifferent, it was something we signed up to do. It was our job. We got orders. We followed them.”
The Iraqi and the Afghanistan wars have afflicted American society with a sense of confusion and loss. As new conflicts replace old, and a will to reflect on the tragedy of war bangs its head against innate obstinacy, post-traumatic stress continues to haunt the country.
The article is edited and translated from 《让奥巴马屡称“心碎”的创伤》; Source: People's Daily; Author: Wen Xian.