May He Finally Rest in Peace.
By Brad Friedman on 1/18/2006, 11:22am PT  

Yesterday, I wrote about the suicide of Specialist Douglas Barber, an Iraq War vet who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon returning home from fighting on behalf of this country. A man who put his life on the line for this country, but who was unable to receive adequate help from the Veteran's Administration as run (and facing deep cutbacks) by George W. "Support the Troops" Bush.

Here is an email posted on SCOOP, from Barber, as written in January of 2005.

He had a difficult time getting people to listen to him while he was alive. Perhaps some of us can try to listen to him now that he's dead, so that perhaps his death will not be in vain.

In his email, Barber describes what many families go through when they witness their sons and daughters coming home in flag-draped coffins, hidden from view by the Bush Administration. And, even more telling in this case, some of the horrors veterans suffering from PTSD face once back on the homefront. Here's a few grafs...

All is not okay or right for those of us who return home alive and supposedly well. What looks like normalcy and readjustment is only an illusion to be revealed by time and torment. Some soldiers come home missing limbs and other parts of their bodies. Still others will live with permanent scars from horrific events that no one other than those who served will ever understand.

We come home from war trying to put our lives back together but some cannot stand the memories and decide that death is better. They kill themselves because they are so haunted by seeing children killed and whole families wiped out.
...
Still others come home to nothing, families have abandoned them: husbands and wives have left these soldiers, and so have parents as well. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has become the norm amongst these soldiers because they don't know how to cope with returning to a society that will never understand what they have had to endure to liberate another country.

PTSD comes in many forms not understood by many: but yet if a soldier has it, America thinks the soldiers are crazy. PTSD comes in the form of depression, anger, regret, being confrontational, anxiety, chronic pain, compulsion, delusions, grief, guilt, dependence, loneliness, sleep disorders, suspiciousness/paranoia, low self-esteem and so many other things.

See his full post for some of the specific personal issues that Barber faced as he wrestled with his PTSD demons.

But then, he goes on to finish with some words for all of the Wingnuts out there who make this sort of disaster possible. Those who, from the comfort of their million dollar homes and multi-million media contracts, distort the cost of this war to sell it as "a noble cause," as if it's a Made-in-America product we can all be proud of and ought to promote to every corner of the earth. Those who bang on a political drum to give the death and destruction of others a "positive" spin for their own personal benefit. Those who gain from the nameless, faceless deaths of real heroes who --- unlike the media-politico scoundrels --- will never benefit by having their contracts renewed, their books promoted to the Best-Seller lists, or see offers for multi-thousand dollar speaking fees. Those who haven't the first clue of what heroes like Barber faced in order to make the lives of such Chickenhawks so cozy and swell. Those like Rush and Sean and O'Reilly who, in Barber's own words are "nothing but dirt under every soldier's boots!"

All of that, even as Barber's death, along with countless others, won't even rate to make the Pentagon's ever-growing list of U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, or even seem themselves added to the scores of thousands listed on the Injured Lists.

I'll let Barber finish out this post...

Talk show hosts like Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and so many others act like they know all about war; then they refuse to give any credence to soldiers like me who have been to war and seen the brutality of war. These guys are nothing but WEAK SPINELESS COWARDS hiding behind microphones while soldiers come home and are losing everything they have.

I ask every American who reads this e-mail to stand up for the soldier who has given their everything for this country to stand up to these guys in the media; ask them why they don't pick up a weapon and follow in the steps of a soldier. Send this e-mail to as many people on your e-mail lists and ask them to do the same.

There needs to be a National awareness for every Veteran who has ever served in any war. Send e-mails to the Big Mouths on TV and ask them to have soldiers like me on their programs. I am asking you as Americans to BOYCOTT every TV show or host/journalist that refuses to tell the real truth.

THIS IS A PERSONAL CHALLENGE TO BILL,SEAN AND RUSH TO HAVE ME ON YOUR PROGRAM TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT. Otherwise you are nothing but dirt under every soldier's boots!

SPC. Douglas Barber

(Please consider supporting Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), formerly OpTruth.org --- Unlike Rush and Sean and O'Reilly, these guys were actually there...and they actually give a damn.)