Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War

Letter from Alternet editor, Joshua Holland

From: AlterNet <>
Date: Wed, Aug 12, 2009 at 1:47 PM
Subject: The Tragedy of Our 'Disappeared' Veterans: Read Penny Coleman's Eye-Opening Report


Dear Reader,

Over the course of four years as an AlterNet editor, I've never felt the need to reach out and urge our audience to read and forward an individual article.

Until today.

That's because today, we're publishing the first of a three-part series by Penny Coleman. Penny argues that in the aftermath of every war that America has fought in the last century - not just this war, or that war, the bad ones or the so-called "good" ones -- the psychiatric casualties (which far outnumber the physical) have disappeared from official histories and public awareness.

Where did they go? We gave Penny an opportunity to find out and she interviewed generations of veterans, advocates and policy makers, dug through archives and musty files and looked hard at what the military had to say about this question.

What she found is that traumatized veterans are systematically disappeared - into prisons and mental institutions, into cardboard boxes on our streets or pine ones when they die young from overdoses, accidents or suicide.

It's a vitally important dynamic because our veterans are the human evidence of what war really costs. With that evidence invisible and silenced, nothing gets interrogated, and the system gets off free.

What frequently happens to these vets is another kind of "blow-back" from American Empire - one rarely discussed, but just as harmful for society as anti-American sentiment or terrorism from abroad.

I hope you'll read, and forward today's first article. It shows how the criminal justice system has been manipulated to hide the astonishing numbers of injured veterans in our prisons and jails. In the coming weeks, Penny will look hard at other aspects of this important story, so keep an eye out for the whole series.


Joshua Holland
Senior Editor,