Debate over the stress of repeated deployments for troops
Regarding the July 12 article, "Troops weigh impact of stress": I can tell you from firsthand experience as an air evacuation medic that repeated deployments to the zone can sharpen your skills, but they also greatly affect your mental as well as physical health. The addiction to more and more danger is sick.
Repeated tours just help you develop a facade that hides what is really going on. I had three tours. It changed my life forever, and even though I try to find the positives, it's little comfort.
In the July 12 article on repeated tours for troops, some people seem to attribute murders and other crimes committed by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to redeployment.
Let me throw this reasoning out of the window right away. An act such as murder or rape depends on the deepest moral foundation of an individual, not on the circumstances.
First, unfortunately the Armed Forces are recruiting individuals without ever probing the candidates' moral foundations. Second, if our military recruiters are bragging about meeting their recruitment quotas, why in the world do we keep redeploying troops?
The July 12 article on repeated tours for troops claims that even the most seasoned soldiers crack under the pressure of this duty. If true, then I cannot even begin to imagine the state of mind and the level of stress that the Iraqi civilians must be going through. And if true, I cannot imagine the level of hostility they must be harboring against the US.
But there is another reason for some troops' violent behavior. The troops are emotionally pumped up to kill the bad guy, and when they cannot find the bad guy, the charged-up emotions do not just float away. These emotions get channeled into committing crimes in the war zones or once the troops are back at home.
Regarding Jeffrey Shaffer's July 14 Opinion column, "How wealth can affect voter turnout": Mr. Shaffer's rationale that affluence somehow deters voters from turning out to vote in greater numbers must be taken with a grain of salt. Other affluent democracies in places such as Europe have much higher voter participation, including among those who are 18 to 40 years old. In Sweden, where I lived for many years, it is considered a duty to vote.
Voter apathy in the US emanates from voters' resignation that their vote is not so important because politicians are going to do what they want to do anyway without much consequence. The present dilemma over border security and the war in Iraq illustrates this.
Moreover, the electorate sees that many Republicans and Democrats are embedded with the business lobby and do not protect the middle class. Both the Democrats and the Republicans differentiate themselves in rhetoric but are not so ideologically opposed in substance.
In Europe and in most countries of the world, there are differences in ideology to choose from; thus the stakes are higher. What we need in the US is a third political force that has grass-roots connections, seeks practical and concrete solutions to problems, and aspires to enhance and ameliorate the living conditions of all Americans.
Robert A. Vieites
The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.
Mail letters to Readers Write, and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to Letters.