As hundreds of thousands of Americans are sent to fight for an evil cause in the name of fighting an evil cause, can it be any different today? The evidence isn't promising for a different outcome.
On July 11, 2007, in a violent Baghdad neighborhood, Master Sgt. Jeffrey R. McKinney killed himself. His father Charles, a Vietnam Marine combat veteran who was a member of one of the earliest units sent to Vietnam, isn't able to explain to himself what caused is 20-year veteran son to lose it in Iraq. His plaintive question, "What kind of suffering were you going through, Jeff, that brought you to that point?", goes unanswered.
Timothy Bowman of Forreston, Illinois drove to his father's business eight months after he returned from Iraq to get the gun he used to kill himself. His parents have donated his boots to the American Friends Service Committee's "Eyes Wide Open" exhibit in his memory.
At least he didn't kill himself in front of his parents, as did Cullman, AL veteran Pvt. Tommie Edward Jones. Jones' mother, Dorothy Screws, has taken up the cause of getting a law passed that would require soldiers returning from intense combat to undergo some type of psychological therapy. “If I can save one soldier, it will be worth it,” she says.
It will prove to be a tough fight, for there is evidence that what little existing treatment exists is doled out more often to white soldiers than to non-whites. Historically, when a resource is scares, it goes to the dominant portion of society.
Sidney Lee, president of the African American Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Association, served as a U.S. Army Airborne Ranger back in the 1970s. He claims in a suit filed in San Francisco against the Department of Veterans Affairs that studies showed the majority of Blacks in Vietnam were combat soldiers (80 percent), who would experience PTSD, a significant number for life, upon return to the states, but doctors refused to diagnose the disease. Lee also claims that, "According to the Pentagon Papers, the reason for this is it provided a legal form of genocide. The reason they had more African Americans in Vietnam in combat positions is because, they said, African Americans were more suited for that war primarily because of their surroundings and the environments that they grew up in.” U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti, an 86-year-old World War II veteran originally appointed to the bench by Richard Nixon, is waffling on this case. “Whatever I do, one side or the other is going to appeal,” he complained. Maybe this "majority" should remain silent.