On November 6, the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill became law. The bill was named for a 22-year-old Iowa reservist who took his own life eleven months after coming home from Iraq. Though Josh is one of hundreds of combat veteran suicides since the wars began in 2001, it is his name that has become symbolic of the campaign to get the military to take the mental health of America's vets seriously.
With the exception of the unspeakable images of Abu Ghraib, which were e-mailed home by soldiers themselves, for six years Americans have been effectively insulated from the human cost of our wars. This insulation is not an accident; it is policy. Images from the Vietnam years, like the naked child trying to outrun her own burning skin, or the anguished women and children waiting their turn to be executed at My Lai, were catalysts that helped turn public opinion against that war. This time, the government wanted to ensure that would not happen. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon issued a directive to the media forbidding any coverage of returning American coffins. No coffins, no funerals, no wounds, no tears. No empathy.
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment