Below this post, you’ll see a video taken by a soldier’s father, depicting living conditions for returning soldiers so repulsive, so heinous, that they make me want to retch.
My friends Brandon & Spencer have written their takes here and here. Unlike Walter Reed, these soldiers aren’t wounded warriors, dependent on the care of others; they are able-bodied men, who are struggling manfully to make do with what they were given.
These men just got back from war — from war — and this is the best we can do? It boggles the mind that we can spend, as Brandon wrote,three quarters of a billion dollars to build the world’s largest embassy in Iraq, and these men, just delivered from the charnel house, must abide conditions no less dreadful, in some ways, than those they left behind. You expect that in Kandahar; you don’t expect it Fayetteville.
Here’s the thing, though: if you think this is the exception, it’s not. Barracks like this exist in most military installations. We had them in Fort Carson, CO, in Fort Hood, TX, and in Fort Sill, OK; and I’m sure I could find other places as well — those were just the installations that I’m familiar with from my time in the service.
The accompanying article says that Sen. Dole will look into it; that’s too little, too late. There’s nothing to look at. Do or do not; but “looking into it” is the kind of pusillanimous BS that pretends at action because you have some vestigial shred of shame left.
I wrote earlier about how so many returning soldiers (including me, and I’m five years removed from Iraq and a year removed from service) are angry and saddened. This — watching men that put their lives on the line have to deal with, literally, crap — is part of what I’m talking about.
Sure, there’ll be some outrage expressed, and, sure, these soldiers will, eventually be cared for. That’s not the point; the point is that there’s a whole generation of men and women for whom this kind of existence, in ways both metaphoric and literal, is all too common. An existence we experience every day, led there by a tissue of lies, and maintained by a latticework of fiction.
We have failed one another as humans if this doesn’t stir our consciences, and move us to action. It is a signal tragedy that, four decades after my parents’ generation swore, “Never again”, the refrain is, instead, “Once again”.
It is that moral abdication and avoidance of responsibility that is really reflected in that video below — any responsible person would have seen to it that returning soldiers would have been housed in a clean barracks, instead of a septic tank masquerading as one. And the fact that there are one, two, many Fort Bragg’s is a stain upon our national character. Let’s not dare to say we “support” the troops until we actually support the troops with something more than a hood ornament and a pack of empty words.