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Tuesday, February 17, 2004
 
So, When's The Big Parade Gonna Be, Then?

The US has just begun the rotation of 123,000 of its troops out of
Iraq — to be replaced, naturally, by 110,000 fresh soldiers.
Significantly, whereas 1 in 3 of the troops rotating out of Iraq are
National
Guardsmen and Reservists
, almost half of the new crew will
be made up of Dubya's
old “weekend
warrior
” cohorts.


Besides the enormously complicated logistics of it all (it's the
largest
such maneuver
since World War II, as you've no doubt heard by
now), the army's other immediate concern is that some of these
battle-weary guys are going to go all “Fort
Bragg” on the rest of us when they get back.


What does “Fort
Bragg
” mean, you say? Well, that's the army's new, hip term
for what we crude civvies call “Going
Postal
” — which was essentially the late-nineties
colloquialism for “Post-Traumatic
Stress Disorder
.”


... which was how the docs in the VA hospitals of the flower-power
era redefined “Combat
Fatigue
” ... which was the Big One's term for “Shell
Shock
.”


... which was how the jaded vets of the War to End
All Wars
felt once they figured out that it was nothing of the sort.


Before that, the science of psychology was largely undiscovered
country, meaning that we didn't have any fancy words to describe the
war-addled Boo Radleys of the world. Believe it or not, “cowardice
was the term most often bandied about in those primitive days.


Fortunately, we live in a futuristic age of psychological wonders,
complete with super-science gadgetry, flying cars, colonies on the
moon, and the like. We may not have figured out how to end war yet,
but we do know what to do with the detritus ... and that's to keep
'em the Hell away from the rest of us until they can get their damned
heads screwed back on straight.


To this end, a (literal) army of mental health professionals is
urgently mustering here on our shores. Their purpose: to provide that
crucial first line of quarantine between
Us and Them
:


A virtual battalion of chaplains,
social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, domestic and
child-abuse counsellors, financial advisers and others are on tap to
embrace the combat-weary human wave about to hit America's shores.
There are websites, pamphlets, hotlines and support groups. Over 400
“family readiness centres” are open. At Fort Campbell,
Kentucky, where more than 18,000 soldiers are due home in coming
months, reunion seminars are being run for spouses.


Supported, no doubt, by enough
psychotropic medications to pacify an army.



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