This series illustrates so many of the concerns we have shared as veterans and as GI Rights advocates about the wars of choice fought by the American Empire and the effects of those experiences on soldiers and their communities. These articles tell us again and again that the war has come back home and is here in America to stay! The big question is how our government will respond.
Coming home: The conclusion
In the final article in Salon's series, we ask what President Obama will do about the rise of suicide and murder among U.S. soldiers returning from combat.
Death in the USA: The Army's fatal neglectYou can also read the introduction to the series, and the first, second and third installments,
"The Kentucky native, an Army soldier stationed at Fort Carson, between deployments in Iraq, had fallen asleep after drinking when his girlfriend began to pound on his apartment door. She wanted inside, and she wanted to talk.
Eastridge responded with a string of obscenities and then flung the door open. He pointed a loaded pistol at his girlfriend. She looked at him like he was crazy, then turned and ran. Eastridge didn't fire. He stood motionless, stunned by his own reaction.Eastridge recounts the episode from a gray plastic table inside Kit Carson Correctional Center, an island of concrete and razor wire in eastern Colorado's flat ocean of wheat. Now 25, he admits that by the time of his arrest in 2006 for felony menacing, he was already a "runaway train." But the train would keep going for another year, through a second deployment to Iraq, a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, and then the death of a fellow soldier. Eastridge is among 13 current or former Fort Carson soldiers to return from the Iraq war and then be accused or convicted of involvement in murder since 2005.
Eastridge may be unique among the soldiers whose cases have been discussed in the "Coming Home" series (read the introduction to "Coming Home" here) in that he may well have had PTSD before he ever entered the military. In previous articles in the series, Salon has discussed what happens to soldiers who develop PTSD during combat and then do harm to themselves and others. In a second article published today, we describe the case of a man whom Army doctors identified as having a psychological disorder prior to his deployment, who then was deployed anyway, only to return to the States and allegedly kill someone. With Kenneth Eastridge, the Army knew what it was getting before he entered basic training -- before he ever donned a uniform. The Army may have exacerbated Eastridge's preexisting condition by sending him into combat. Once he had been to Iraq, twice, and was diagnosed with PTSD yet again, the Army was done with him. That's when he was loosed on the public, with tragic consequences."