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Combat stress and the Camp Liberty killings
What a tragedy in Iraq says about the personal toll of war
 

“The slaughter of five comrades by a ‘stressed out’ U.S. soldier” in Iraq “is a true tragedy,” said Greg Mitchell in The Huffington Post, “but should not come as a shock.” Although the media has ignored them as a rule, the signs of the effects of the war on our soldiers and veterans have been there for years. It's “revealing” that the killings at Camp Liberty “took place at a clinic for soldiers suffering from trauma or mental fatigue,” and that the alleged killer—Sgt. John M. Russell—“apparently was a patient himself.”

The killings will push the Pentagon to take a closer look at the effects of combat stress, said Paul Wiseman in USA Today. The accused sergeant was on his third tour in Iraq, where at least 18 percent of the troops "likely suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the National Center for PTSD.” And there have been at least a half-dozen other cases in Iraq in which Americans turned their guns on fellow soldiers.

The Pentagon can offer all the counseling it wants, said Kathy Kattenburg in The Moderate Voice. But the macho "Buck up and be a man" culture within the military tells soldiers they're "wusses" if they seek help for emotional or psychological problems related to war. As long as that attitude prevails, "men and women for whom these services are literally a matter of life or death will find it very difficult to reach out."

 

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