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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A veteran of Iraq talks about PTSD

LiberalRakkasan is a poster at Daily Kos who, over the past few weeks, has been chronicling his experiences in Iraq and thoughts on the war, including Fallujah.

Today, he describes in painful detail his return from Iraq and the chaos of his PTSD. This is a must-read. Some snippets posted below.

I have just enough time to mutter, "Fuck..." when bullets start pinging of the hood of my vehicle.  "RPG LEFT!" my gunner shouts and I see the rocket streaking towards us from a building about 100 meters away.  The RPG explodes in just in front of my vehicle and shreds the engine block.  We stall.  I'm hit by shrapnel, and so is my gunner.  My driver looses control, and we crash into a low brick wall.  My head slams into the windshield cracking it.

Bullets are bouncing around in the vehicle, and smoke is pouring out of the engine.  My driver is trying to frantically start the engine.  I yell at him to get out of the truck, take cover behind the wall, and return fire.  It probably sounds something like this:  GetthefuckoutBehindthatfuckingwallAstartshootingthosemotherfuckers.

"Where the fuck are they?" I shout to my gunner.  

"Fucking building on the left," he shouts back.  He is heroically staying up on our .50 cal machinegun.  "Can't ID a fucking target."

"Fuck it," I shout.  "Light it up.  Hit all the windows and doors."

He begins systematically tearing the building to shreds, and I work the radios trying to take control of the situation.  I get out of the vehicle too and crouch next to it so I can use my M-4 if necessary.  We are still taking heavy fire from the building.

I think I see a muzzle flash from a doorway, and more bullets buzz around me.  I duck walk to the back of the vehicle and pull an out an AT-4 rocket launcher.  I start getting the rocket ready for launch, but my hands stop working.  I can't arm the rocket no matter how hard I try to get my hands to move.

I try to yell something to my gunner, but I can't get any words to come out.  I try to force myself to speak, but nothing comes out.  I'm making a low gurgling sound.  I try harder to say something, and I finally get something to come out...

...I wake up shouting in a cold sweat.


But, I wasn't getting much sleep because I was used to only getting a few hours a night so I stayed up too late watching too much news and drinking to much beer.  I started getting up in the morning and making a pot of coffee.  I would guzzle the coffee, get wired, and begin obsessively catching up on the news.  

I also began obsessively writing angry emails and letters.  The whole time I was in Iraq, I kept a "heap of shit" list of people who had pissed me off.  The Dixie Chicks.  Susan Serandon.  Janine Garafalo.  A bunch of reporters.  Magazines.  Blogs.  Everybody got a letter.

I found myself getting angry and impatient all the time, especially to my wife.  Nothing moved at the pace I was used to.  Everyday life seemed trivial, and I had a tough time connecting with people in my life.  I was so angry all the time.  I was on edge, and my jaw started hurting because I kept it clenched so much.

I was filled with an impending sense of dread, and the bad dreams began.  I started drinking more, but I didn't notice it.  I was on vacation damn it.  I could have a beer for breakfast if I wanted.  I glared at my neighbor every time I saw him.


The bar got crowded.  My buddy and I are sitting a big table and some college kids asked us if they could join us.  Somehow it came up in conversation that I just go back from Iraq.  One of the kids, a frat boy, says cool.

"It's about time we started kicking some ass," Frat boy said.

"We?" I asked.  My mood darkened, but he didn't notice.

"Yeah, we should kick all their asses."

"You mean me, right?  You joining up?"

He was drunk enough to think I was joking.

"You ever shoot anyone over there?" he asked.

"You should never ask anyone that question," I said and thought of the little girl.  "You might not like the answer you get."

"Hah! That means you didn't."

I stood up.  "Listen here you little motherfucker.  I've killed plenty of people, and I'm fixin' to get me one more.  I'm going to knock your fucking teeth down the back of your throat, and then I'm going to go to work on you.  You're gonna have a couple months in the hospital to think about where you fucked up."

He stood.  "Let's go."

My buddy grabs me.  "It's not worth it," he pled.

"The hell it isn't," I answered, and I stepped forward.  I was going to fuck this kid up.  Some evil piece of my mind told me that the cops would side with me.  I would get away with it.  I looked over to the kid.  He was backing away, fear in his eyes.

"Its not worth it," my buddy pled again.  I was suddenly aware that everyone was looking at me like I'm a monster.  I was one.


At 8:21 PM, Blogger Rob said...

The President should have to read and listen to stories like this. Maybe if he had half a clue as to what the real effects of war were, he'd think more before starting 'em.

Then again, with Bush thinking is probably a bit much to ask.

While I don't think it's an absolute requirement for a President to be a former military member (Clinton was a good President and never served), those who hold that office should have an understanding that wars have many horrible consequences that they (in the "ivory tower" on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) never see.

It's sometimes necessary, but as Sen. Kerry said during the debates, it should be an absolute last resort.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Cookie said...

The problem is, I don't think people like Bush can even comprehend because they lack a necessary empathy. It's like they're so privileged or have suffered some very basic kind of neglect or abuse that they're missing some part of their emotional makeup.

It's close to sociopathy, but not quite --- and it isn't limited only to people of wealth and privilege --- but I think that's where it emerges from for Bush.


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