As the U.S. government doles out hundreds of thousands dollars to victims of this month’s Afghan massacre, the American public has turned its attention to the stress that two warfronts has put on those serving our country.
On March 11, Staff Sgt. Robert Bales opened fire and killed 17 Afghan civilians in a rural area of Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province. He has since been charged with seven counts of premeditated murder while the U.S. has paid a total of $860,000 to the families of those injured and killed.
How could a devoted father of two snap like that?
The Tacoma, Wash. base at which Bales was stationed, Lewis-McChord was given the distinction as the “most troubled base in the military” by the Stars and Stripes newspaper in 2010. The base had a record number of suicides last year in addition to having soldiers be part of a “kill team” that was convicted of killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan for sport.
Bales had been on three year-long deployments to Iraq and has claimed war stress as a defense for the killings.
Our nation has spent 10 years fighting insurgents in a country we can’t seem to get a grasp on. Soldiers have seen ten years of combat come and go. We ship them out like parts on an assembly line, without giving thought to the affects it might have such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Since 2000, the Army has diagnosed 76,176 soldiers with PTSD. This is not something we can prevent but it is something we can demand be treated.
The U.S. military needs to screen soldiers before sending them back out to our warzones. If no changes are implemented, these unnecessary killings will continue.