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  • #1
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    In my experience most combat vets are heavy drinkers or drug users. I've battled my own personal demons from it for a few years now and have managed to be sober for the last two years. There is nothing fun about killing a man, it is traumatic.
  • #8
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    WOW! I'm speechless........We NEVER> NEVER, NEVER agree..........but I'm astonished at your humility and willingness to be open about your personal story and your addiction. Arumizy- my deepest congratulations and much, much kudos for your hard work, dedication, military service, and your honesty. I'm approaching 28 years sober....and each day is a trial by fire........but it slowly gets better. You deserve NOTHING but accolades. Best of luck on your recovery.........although it's not worth much I'm sure....you have my deepest respect and admiration!
    :-)
  • #12
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    Congratulations brother. I can relate with you on all aspects. God never promised us it would be easy, but trust in a him to see you through. God bless.
  • #32
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    @ahsum99ss I'm 88, served as a deck ape on a minesweeper in the Pacific. Became an atheist there, after READING the bible. Have no need of any man-made gods. I'm ready for the atoms that comprise me to rejoin the stardust from which all life emanates.
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  • #2
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    I think that the experience of seeing your brother soldiers die is more traumatic than seeing enemy soldiers die, even if you are the one pulling the trigger.
  • #92
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    @albe "the weight of the other human beings not having value."

    That would depend on the person you're posing the question to and how they chose to deal with the situation.
  • #105
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    @albe
    Not saying the other human life is without value. But in combat, if the enemy soldier is shooting at you, I feel it to be a matter of self defense.
    Also consider the effect of seeing a stranger die in an automobile accident. It's traumatic. But the trauma is increased if the accident victim is a close friend or family member.
  • #118
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    It is at first when the adrenalin is still controlling your mind, as we mellow out a little it's a bummer about the people you killed also. Especially when you realize they were humans with wives, girlfriends and kids and like us, we were fighting to just keep or buddies and ourselves alive long enough to make it back to the world. It was just another useless war. The worst thing about coming back from Nam was the treatment we got from the government, the job market and the people. That will never be forgotten or forgiven.
  • #119
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    @Keyjo ...in combat you don't have time to think, the adrenalin kicks in, you go into auto mode until its over. When it's over you are still so pumped on adrenalin that nothing matters, you just feel good being alive. Also, given the mindset a combat soldiers has, the enemy isn't even human because you have learned to hate him because his was just trying to kill you.
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  • #120
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    Going into war you are brainwashed to think you are doing it for god, country and apple pie, after there a few months you realize there is no god, your country hates you and apple pie is made by a chemists. Then you just fight to survive and keep your buddies alive.
  • #142
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    @LarryV It breaks my heart to look back in history and see the treatment that you, a fellow Brother-In-Arms, was subjected to.

    Because your generation didn't hear it much at all or enough, thank you. Despite the circumstances and opinions of your service, thank you.

    But, I still feel that I should say that it's a different military now, sir. It's volunteer, and there is no brainwashing or indoctrination except what you make for yourself.
  • #21
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    There are many personality types and each type handled stressful situations differently.

    I can remember this big strapping guy....Private Norse we called him because he was as big as a Viking. He was your stereotype jock. Bragged about how many battles he was in...semibully.

    He got a kill in a skirmish his second week with us. He cried with me for over a month....I was the medic and had a semi privite place the guys could go to and talk.

    I ended up recommending him for a medical discharge. I got a letter that he became a priest.....trying to atone for his sins I would guess.

    To anyone who us reading this that has killed for your country.....I say thank you and god (or diety of your choice) bless you.
  • #15
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    The reason I chose no is not the reason you all might think, I chose no because I know how these surveys work and I know from experience that even thought the government tell the subjects that they are completing the survey anonymously, all DOD personnel log into the computer system using a Common Access Card (CAC) and our every move is tracked. Ive known people that went in for marriage counseling and the first question out of the docs mouth is "how many drinks a week do you have" and bam, if you answer a six pack a week or a beer or two at dinner every night, you are deemed an alcoholic and you find yourself booted out, I personally know people that has happened to. So when I say "no" it's because the subjects gave them the answers they were looking for, hell I've done it. I good chunk of those being surveyed are seasoned veterans, they have a lot at stake if they actually tell the truth. It's a hard thing to chock down getting booted after fifteen to twenty years of service and losing your retirement because you didn't reach your thirty years required for retirement. Guard and Reserve require thirty years of service to retire. In fact I wouldn't be suppressed if that is the reason the survey was given to a guard unit instead of active duty, because the DOD knew by doing so that they would get the answers they were looking for and say "see, all is well, nothing to look at here, move along" I can also tell you that if you are a soldier shooting and killing the enemy than there is enemy shooting back and killing your fellow soldiers, one doesn't happen with out the other, your mind is still being effected. I lived the life for more than twenty-two years, and I know the results of this survey are complete bull crap.
  • #18
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    Yes, if you answer wrong to a diagnostic question you are an alcoholic. Thank Providence we are an intellectually dishonest nation and choose to believe no one in uniform sparks a doobie!
  • #51
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    Let me make a correction to my original post; Guard and Reservists will get a retirement if they serve twenty but they are unable to collect until they reach the age of 60. So if a person gets the boot before he reaches his twenty he is just shit out of luck, no retirement.
  • #72
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    Surveys and polls are too often worded to guide the participants into saying what the creators of the polls ans surveys are looking for. This is one reason to view any of them with a great deal of skepticism.

    You really hit on a reality of warfare that all types of PC protocol does not allow people to speak of honestly. The reality is that the enemy is trying to kill YOU as well as your brothers in arms, and that fact alone makes it a natural reaction for most human beings to protect themselves by killing that enemy.

    It's only after the event or events are over that the individuals involved in killing an enemy start to moralize. Combined with the trauma of actually having to survive under inhuman conditions and it is no wonder anyone but a psychopath would not be effected by the violence.

    Here's a thought. Perhaps I would worry just as much about the soldiers who are not affected by what they have done, since it's quite possible that that they are psychotic or dangerously amoral. I have an acquaintance who was a Navy Seal that fits that characterization perfectly.
  • #79
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    @Ryunkin it's funny you should say that, I have a brother that fits that characterization as well, he to was a Seal. He lives all secluded up in Alaska.
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  • #9
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    Studies have shown for years that people who witness extreme acts of violence are likely to have more severe PTSD than those who were involved in acts of extreme violence. Those who were seriously injured in combat tend to recover more quickly than those who watched a comrade get killed or blown up.

    So, it stands to reason that those with the more severe PTSD are far more likely to self-medicate with alcohol or other drugs. They are also the least likely to seek help because they feel guilty for getting something they think only those who were physically injured should get.

    We, the public, can help in this matter by honoring and respecting the psychological sacrifices as much as the physical sacrifices a soldier makes. I've heard comments many times that amount to, "This guy got his leg blown off. All that other guy did was watch it happen." BOTH are serious injuries and should be treated with equal respect by the public (and media) and equal attention from care professionals.
  • #65
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    Agreed. The person who goes on to develop PTSD generally responds to the original trauma with helplessness, horror and fear. Someone who kills in combat is doing something, not watching helplessly.
  • #121
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    @Jade ...I fought the diagnosis of PTSD for many years ago, I felt too many people already thought we were crazy and I wasn't going to accept that for myself. It only sunk in a couple years ago that I do have it but I've alway been able to keep it in control. At least on the outside.
  • #135
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    @LarryV - "On the outside" is not satisfactory for me... not for anyone who served our country. You can get rid of that inside stuff, and I want you to feel the freedom and peace that comes from getting it out for good... Have hope, and consult with some fellow veterans who have learned how to get it out. You'll find you have more control of your life when PTSD stops controlling you.

    have hope. never give up. I wish you peace on the inside.
  • #13
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    I've seen to many brothers and sisters fall to the dark side with alcohol and drugs, prescription or Street drugs to self medicate. It's difficult either way. When in doubt, I lean on God.
  • #11
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    I read the study - they looked at only one National Guard brigade combat in Iraq for only one year. We don't know if that unit's experience was typical of atypical, and we don't know what the leadership of the unit was like. That's your basic small sample size, so you can't draw any conclusions from it one way or the other. They might as well have sampled old war movies, which actually sounds like a good idea - those soldiers drank a lot AND killed lots of bad guys.
  • #14
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    Nothing like a little herb to get that image of someone's exploding head out of your mind. I didn't do drugs or alcohol but would say that combat in general (Vietnam) was responsible for many people I served with turning to them. My dad said the same thing about WWII and the people he served with. The only thing I know for sure is you don't come back the same person that went there.
  • #7
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    Althoughthe trauma experienced as a result of participating in comabt is utterly destructive to the human psyche..........vets will tell you the Dehumanization Process that America proscribes upon our soldiers to make them the most feared and efficient killing machines is far, far more destructive to the normally-adjusted mind, and that "programming" takes far longer to repudiate and replace with healthy mental conditioning. No military on earth has ever found a cure for the sociological and behavioral damage Military service encompasses.
  • #24
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    My ex-husband did not start abusing alcohol when he came home. Occasionally drinking a few beers with the guys, not getting drunk, remained the same. But something else did change. He left a wonderful husband and father; and came back physically and emotionally abusive. When he started turning on our older son, I had no choice but to kick him out! He should have already been gone for abusing me for so long. Did they add that portion to their survey? Somehow I doubt it, plus if they did would soldiers have honestly answered that question? Saying whether or not they abused alcohol after combat is more acceptable than saying you came home and abused your family. My ex-husband has served in Iraq and Afghanistan this time around as an officer. I don't believe he saw much combat as he did as a kid grunt in Desert Storm. We married and had our son's very young. An all too common mistake. He joined the national guard when we were in high school. He did basic training in the summer between 11th and 12th grades then did the weekend drills throughout 12th grade. After graduation he went to MOS. Not long after our first son was born he was deployed. We were still teenagers. When he came home on leave was when our younger son was conceived. I stuck it out as long as I could, but when the physical abuse turned towards our older son, that was it. I definitely stayed with him too long being physically abused. I saw that as failing. I hate to fail. Then when our younger son was diagnosed with cancer the week he turned three and I graduated with my first degree from college, I had to leave with our son to care for him while he was being treated at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. My husband ended up leaving our older son with my parents and lived as if he were single, girl friend and all. When we returned he was given his last chance to go to counseling with and without me to keep his family. The evening he turned on our preschool son, I got ahold of our son before he did. I blocked our son into a corner with my body where his father couldn't hit him and took all the blows myself and kept whispering to our son that this would never happen again while his father was hurling obscenities at him. During this time our 3yr old fresh out of cancer treatment called 911. At 3 he pressed charges against his father. I called into work the next day and changed the locks, cleared our bank account of all but outstanding checks and took my name off of the account. I was the one working at the time and supporting our family. I also started the proceedings of our divorce that day. He wasn't working, so he got legal aid. How backwards can that be? The abuser that committed adultery got a lawyer for free. I was paying a mortgage and supporting myself and our sons as well as paying a lawyer. The man I married would have never done these things, but after going to war the man that came back could.
  • #78
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    Sorry you and your children were abused. I too was in Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Afghanistan, saw allot of really bad things. I too came home and suffered from anger issues and was verbally abusive to my family and suffered from severe bouts of depression. I suffer from debilitating migraines from a head injury I sustained in the Kohbar tower bombing so I don't drink but on a very special occasions. I never laid a hand on my wife or kids but there is no doubt that my wife was reaching the end of her rope and told me to go and get help or leave. One day I was sitting in my car outside the BX at Travis AFB and I could feel myself shutting down and couldn't control my emotions, to this day I don't know how I made it to the VA on base but I remember telling the women at the counter I needed help. Every day is better than the last and I have a wonderful marriage and a great relationship with my kids, I still don't like large groups of people or buildings I can't see into or out of, and I probably never will. The VA saved my life and my family, it's to bad your EX and you didn't get the help you needed before it was to late. The DOD has no problem skewing the facts to cover up problems or to make something look better than it really is. I would easily say that more than three quarters of the fellas I deployed with divorced within a year or so of returning home. I'm betting that if someone actually did an honest study to see what the numbers really are we would all be shocked.
  • #113
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    @oldsolder
    You and I wouldn't be shocked. My grandfather was a pilot and infantry in WW11. My father was a fighter pilot in Korea until the armistice was signed, then flew the first large wing helicopters to fly the muckety mucks around until he finally got to come home after three years in Korea. He always said that the Korean War wasn't over. It looks like he was right. He got out right before he would have been sent to Vietnam. That three years straight is what kept him from being stop lossed. My current (2nd) husband flew and was involved in ground combat during the first gulf war and still deals with anger issues. My ex seems to be doing better, but I don't know. My son rarely sees him. Obviously I didn't divorce him the first year home. I should have. Him beating me was emotional abuse to our sons. He even beat me in my last month of pregnancy with our younger son after he came home. I am so sorry for all that you have went through and are still going through. I can't imagine what y'all went through over there. That is another reason I stayed much longer than I should have. What my first husband became was not his fault. Refusing to stick with getting the help he needed was. The military even wiped his criminal record clean to enable them to get him the highest security clearance when he became an officer. Thankfully they still existed in the family court files because he tried to convince our son to live with him when he was 14. All things equal at 14 my son could have gone to live with him. He and his horrid third wife just didn't want to pay child support and my son was still recovering from a bone marrow transplant. When he finally chucked her, he actually admitted to me that I was right about her. We had already lost our younger son. But when my son brought up living with them, I said no and welcomed for them to file a lawsuit. All things were not equal. The criminal record may have been wiped clean, but everything was still there for me to use in family court. They dropped it pretty quickly. I'm glad you sought help and that you didn't lose your family. I didn't want to have to break up ours. I was forced. But now I still have a vet husband and a beautiful nearly 9 year old daughter to show for it! My husband will do anything for me and of course her! Daddy's little girl. Thank you for your reply. You will be in my prayers that those old ghosts still haunting you will go away. You deserve for life to be good!
  • #84
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    It" sells "the article , I read it, a human condition that I'm personally haven't encountered, so the unknown attracts readers, then ads follow, or added value.
  • #60
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    The data doesn't surprise me, but they are wrong on their reasoning. Other studies show that the individuals most likely to kill in combat are the ones with the least resistance and guilt about killing in combat. There is no need to engage in alcohol abuse as a coping mechanism if the act of killing does not provide anything of which to particularly cope......researchers have found that the majority if killing in combat is done by a small percentage of combatants, who they refer to as 'natural killers'.

    https://notes.utk.edu/bio/greenberg.nsf/a8080...
  • #49
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    Not been my experience but changing times/ changing ways of treating returning vets/changing outcomes. Even so "psycho vet" has always been a false stereotype and an easy way to justify broken promises and shabby treatment of people who put their lives on the line for their country.
  • #103
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    Makes some sense. Marijuana was and still is my choice, 47 plus years on, and still loving life. The drunks I know were REMFer's, we referred to them as juicers in Nam. alcohol and downers were their choice, the other groups were the head or stoners, and there was a a spattering of fundamentalist wacko's from the BuyBull belt that did neither. The juicers had a boring life in the rear area's I get that. This constant boredom in their lives led to their continued alcohol addiction.
  • #122
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    We had a couple guys in my platoon who just loved to kill, they were both juicers, I was a head not a juicer. Didn't really have much time to do either. We had an unwritten law with no exceptions that no one when out drunk or high, if you did just one time you were gone.
  • #131
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    @LarryV The only drugs we allowed were the one's Doc gave us, that was our malaria pills and salt tabs, but Doc usually had access to some "go and no go pills" if we needed them. When those weren't available we had something called Obesital or Obesitol, for when you were pulling 2 hours on and 2 off watches. Other than that, nothing allowed. If we were on stand down or perimeter watch.......then all bets were off. LOL, we loved perimeter watch in the rear. It was like having a fourth of July at your fingertips...., flares, claymores and foo gas all set up and ready for a big show. Needless to say the Lifers didn't like our antics on the line. While we rousted the base to red alert, falsely, and held all night firefights with unseen enemies, they couldn't go to their beloved clubs...... Waaaaaaaa! LMAO! My Marines loved it and so did I.
  • #75
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    Maybe this has to do with the fact that a lot of veterans are now using cannabis and getting medical marijuana cards to help cope with what they went through. It seems to help a lot of them and alcohol is quite destructive, I don't see how drinking makes situations like this any better. I've seen people self medicate after horrible things with alcohol but it almost always causes them to become even more emotionally unstable later that day. Haven't seen something like that with people getting stoned yet, except for a few teenagers during high school. The US really needs to help out their vets more in general.
  • #123
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    I think that for myself, smoking marijuana has done more to mellow me out from Nam than any prescription drugs the doctors tried on me.it wasn't as good when it was illegal but it worked.
  • #62
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    It all boils down to personal preference and the mind set of the persons involved. Trauma affects people in a variety of ways probably to the extent of the differences in our DNA besides our personalities.
  • #63
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    That's absolutely true......the individual soldiers most likely to kill in combat, the small percentage of natural killers, do not experience psychological trauma from it. So the studied is skewed. Some studies show as many as half of the killing in combat is done by aggressive killers, who represent a small fraction of the military population. Meaning a cross study of killers in combat would yield at least half of that self selected group would be aggressive killers.

    These men do not use alcohol as a coping mechanism except to deal with boredom, so they don't become alcoholics.

    The study is reaching the wrong conclusions.
  • #42
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    People self medicate for any number of reasons. Grew up in an Army family where one was expected to be a hard drinker/hard fighter. My experience in RVN was that drunks and drug users were weeded out of the fighting units because of the low survival rates. For those that took up drinking or drug use afterwards usually did so because they found something inside themselves they had trouble coming to terms with.
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