Given how tragically common veteran suicides are in this country, you have to know the whole story of Afghan war vet, peace activist and Danville native Jacob George to understand why the news that he’d taken his own life in Fayetteville on Sept. 17 hit the anti-war community like a punch to the ribs. Over the last month, the grief over his death has steadily seeped out via the Internet — dozens of eloquent testimonies about his kindness and caring, even as his own grasp on life silently deteriorated until it was gone.
Unless you’re a vet or involved in veteran’s health, you’ve probably never heard the term “moral injury” until now. An article published by the journal of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs’ National Center for PTSD in 2012 defines moral injury as recurring guilt or shame caused by “perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to or learning about acts that transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.” It’s still a very new concept: the idea that a soldier can be mentally harmed not just by killing the enemy or seeing horrible things, but simply by being a cog in the machinery of war.
That sense of being morally wounded undoubtedly adds to the sky-high number of veteran suicides in this country every year. To call the suicide rate among U.S. veterans anything less than an epidemic would be to downplay the problem. According to figures released in 2013 by the Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2010 around 22 U.S. veterans a day took their own lives. There was an increase in the suicide rate of young male vets, many of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan, of 44 percent between 2009 and 2011. On average, according to a VA study released earlier this year, two veterans age 30 or below kill themselves every day somewhere in this country. That’s today, tomorrow, next Thursday, Thanksgiving and your birthday. That’s seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Given that preparation takes time, and that one cannot be late, now is the time to prepare, whether one thinks the Great Collateral Grab will manifest close to home next month or next year. Those who are not prepared risk losing everything, very much including their freedom of action to address subsequent challenges as they arise. It is a tragedy to fall at the first hurdle and then be at the mercy of whatever fate has to throw you. The Automatic Earth has been covering finance, market psychology and the consequences of excess credit and debt since our inception, providing readers with the tools to navigate a major crisis.
Originally posted on Sortes Mechanomica:
Sooner or later, the things that have been excluded from the world by any given rationalist system will include things that can’t be ignored without putting the survival of the civilization at risk, and when those things are ignored anyway, as they normally are, the consequences are all too familiar from the historical record. That’s why rationalist movements in their final years, when it finally becomes impossible to ignore those things any longer, always end up making peace with the realms of magic, myth, and religion they‘ve previously spent so many years and so much effort denouncing. To put the same thing another way, that’s why the magic or the esoteric religion of a waning civilization ends up absorbing the heritage of that civilization’s broken-down rationalism, repurposing it to cope with the unmet needs of its time, and placing it in a context of practice that keeps it from blinding…
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