Readers write: A Vietnam combat veteran’s perspective

Letters to the editor for the Feb. 24, 2020 weekly magazine. A Vietnam veteran discusses the best way to reintegrate soldiers into civilian life.

A Vietnam combat veteran speaks

The cover story “Healing the moral injury of war” by Martin Kuz in the Dec. 2, 2019, Monitor Weekly was a difficult one to deal with for me as a Vietnam combat veteran. 

The “Why we wrote this” insert defined the term “moral injury” as distinct from post-traumatic stress disorder and “a crisis of spirit that can be rooted in doubts over what their service achieved.” As we look at the number of veteran suicides, averaging 17 per day according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, I hope that the Monitor will do follow-up stories on why this community is in moral crisis. I believe that the moral injury impact may not even have to involve combat. Military service creates enough stress by itself. Those who serve can be morally injured when an event occurs in which leaders betray what is right. 

I suggest that the military employ the “squad concept” to help veterans heal. If it takes six months to train a soldier to kill, then we should take six months to untrain him or her. Most of us who took the oath “to support and defend” our country were surrounded, in our squads, by good people who shared our values. Each day, they helped us get through difficulties. It was leadership of the head and heart. We should take the last six months before military service ends and surround that person with a new “squad.”

That new squad should have the financial, legal, medical, psychological, educational, and familial ability to make sure that the individual is prepared to return to civilian life. The family is part of this final squad. Each person should be able to talk through stressful events and learn how to deal with them. This process may turn out to be expensive, but when we consider the cost to the families who have to face a veteran’s suicide or to the community in a “death by cop” situation, it will save us money and pain.

Bruce Richardson
St. Louis Park, Minnesota

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.