Bruce Krasting's picture


Courtesy of Bruce Krasting

I know a man. Call him Eddie. He’s African American, going on about 63. When he was a boy he had no real home or much education, so when he was eighteen he took the only option available to him. He joined the military. That was 1967.

He must have been a hell of a soldier. He ended up in the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. (One of the toughest outfits around.)

In February of 1968 he fought in the battle of Hue during the Tet offensive. He was in non-stop firefights for three weeks. He said half his platoon were killed or wounded. He told me about the time he held onto a fellow soldier, while he bled to death from a sniper round through the throat.

After the Tet Offensive his tour was up, but for some stupid reason (probably a few thousand dollars) he did a second tour. In April of 1968 he went back “up country” with the 1st Cav. This time he fought in the A Shau Valley. (This was referred to at the “Valley of Death". The fighting was as bad as any combat in history). He once talked of the time that he spent a night in a bomb crater with two dead comrades while the Viet Cong were shooting AK47s with green tracers over his head. He also talked about killing his enemy in hand-to-hand combat. His buddies did the same. For some reason, Eddie walked away from it.

But he was a broken man. He has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He has never been able to function properly. He is afraid of everything. On the Fourth of July he has to be sedated. He’s terrified by the noise of the fireworks.

The Army never questioned that he was damaged goods, and that it was his time in battle that was responsible. They gave him antidepressants; after a while he got a half disability pension. Life was just a struggle. Eight years ago I banged on a bunch of doors and helped him get a full disability pension. He’s okay these days, sort of.

I bring up Eddie’s story in connection with a new report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

The wars we fight today are no different than those of 1968, or any other war. Almost one in four (21%) of our soldiers are coming home with PTSD.

The CBO attempts to come up with a price on this. By its calculation, it costs an average of $10,000 per year for each soldier with PTSD. Given that 2.3mm troops have cycled through our wars the past ten years we can expect a bill for at least $5 billion a year for just those with PTSD. For how long? The CBO reports that 80+% of those with PTSD were still in need of treatment after four years. For Eddie, it’s been forty plus years now.

Of course the CBO numbers don’t measure the real cost. What is the cost of a busted life? You can’t put a number on it.

We have some very big debts to pay to the soldiers that have come home recently. (Don’t blame them for wars – they just fight them.) I’m concerned that we will renege on those promises. I think the CBO is too, that’s probably why it wrote the report.

I’m writing about this because the CBO report reminded me of Eddie. And that got me to thinking how fucking stupid these wars have been.

Note: PTSD is just a fraction of the total costs of taking care of our Vets.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
psychobilly's picture

"Just following orders."

I don't think so.  Sorry but you're flat wrong.

fishface's picture

Yeah, sorry Bruce also can't agree on the heroe, even Eddie, I would call him a sad loser,

why was he there ? for the money, another 10.000 as you said or was he fighting to free opressed people from a dictator or what

lets face it most soldiers are there just for the money and of course the important flag.

In reallity they fight for the Commander-in-Chief, the weapons industry and so on

Azannoth's picture

Can Mercenaries be Heroes? BK You say your self that your soldier buddy did a 2nd tour (probably) for money. So how is killing people for cash heroic?

Same with most soldiers today in Afghanistan and Iraq, most do it for money, some do it to satisfy their sadistic pleasures and (probably) a minority does it for patriotism.

No heroism no be found here .. going half-way across the world to shoot people up, how's that heoric, how can any1 believe that?

SloSquez's picture

Jesus Christ, Forest Gump was right.

AldousHuxley's picture

99% is either a mercenary doing the dirty job for money or a mobster wife married to the mercenary enjoying the benefits and looking the other way.

SloSquez's picture

Rock-n-roll Aldous.  That's right, but some of us are just perfecting the art.  Just in thyme if you ask me.

Bruce Krasting's picture

Eddie was 19 in 1968.

What the fuck does a 19 year old really know?

FeralSerf's picture

It sounds like you're arguing that 19 year olds shouldn't be in the military because they're not able to understand what it's all about.

If that's your argument, I agree with you.

Bruce Krasting's picture

I don't think that 19 year olds have the wisdom of time to make truly informed judgements.

The problem is that for the very same reasons, they make excellent soldiers.

Look at the deaths in Iraq, Afgan. What is the average age? 22 tops???

fishface's picture

nothing, he just got used

He could become a heroe now saving other 19 year olds

just go out and show those 19 year olds, you don't need to get killed or wounded in war, but you still lose 'your' life

bob_dabolina's picture

A lot of 19 year olds don't have many other options. If you want to get out of the ghetto but don't have what it takes for school you join the military. 

I think the majority of enlisted Marines I knew when I was in came from the gutter, the ghetto, or gang life. 

There is a lot more than just war when you're in the military. We helped build schools, trained foreign soldiers, gave starving kids food, helped with flood relief, gave toys to poor kids, helped CA with the wildfires, and all kinds of other stuff. 

davood's picture

The Nazi soldiers who fought were just as guilty as their commanders.  Heavy lifting or not.

Answer my question: Have you seen the millions of third-generation Vietnamese still suffering from the grotesque and debilitating effects of Agent Orange?

Heroes, my ass.

outlander's picture

The intention in the original article is clear that the "hero" is a victim of circumstance and neglect, which happens to be due to a war which was waged by the US. You could easily sub-in a Vietnamese soldier or any other race or nationality which has fought a war and neglected its citizen/conscript soldiers after they came back. Damn you're dense davood. And what the fuck do Nazis have to do with this?

SokPOTUS's picture

Here is an article sympathetic to the plight of Vietnamese children still deformed today by the lingering effects of Agent Orange.  It is from March 2011.  It notes 150,000 children currently affected; not 'millions'.  Even 150, 000 is 150,000 too many, to be sure; but leave the hyperbole at home please, and don't post your rubbish on here.


You vehemently disagree with the war in Vietnam, fine; many, and perhaps even most, Americans did.

You want to blame enlisted men for the war and the tools they were ordered to fight it with?  You *are* an ass.


That's as kind to you as I can be.


optimator's picture

And how many of our own and their families have suffered from the effects of agent orange?  We simply didn't know the long term effects of it then.

New_Meat's picture

Zumwalt was in charge of the swift boats on the Mekong.  Zumwalt's son was in the swifties with Kerry (I got an earful one night) and eventually died of the agent orange that his dad had ordered.

God this sucks,

- Ned

bob_dabolina's picture

I fought in Iraq with the US Marines and can tell you first hand that it's not the soldiers. If you're a soldier you don't tell your higher command "no man, I'm not doing it" ESPECIALLY in a combat zone. That's how your friends get killed and how you get NJP or court martialed.

I came back with TBI and PTSD after coming back from Iraq and have had to shovel the remains of my friends off the pavement after the door was blown off a humvee, they fell out, and the humvee landed on them while still in maintaining forward momentum. All the Marines in my platoon that died all were married with children (one had three kids). I've also seen the collateral damage of bombs dropping on targets that have also killed women and children. 

War is fucked up, but when you're serving your country, you follow your orders. Like Bruce said, it's the upper echelon in our government that get us into these pointless wars. War is fucked.

StormShadow's picture

Bob, thank you for your service, Sir! War is fucked up indeed, but you are not and don't pay attention to anyone saying different.

New_Meat's picture

bob_: welcome home, brotha' - Ned

bob_dabolina's picture

I've been out of the military for many years now but thanks. Shit, it's been almost 7 years since I was in Iraq last. Time flys. 

Bruce Krasting's picture

Thanks for contributing. The CBO report was written for you (both TBI and PTSD).

I'm sorry you were hurt. I'm sorry about the men who died with you. I wish you the best.

And I think you're a hero.


Milton William Cooper's picture

No soldiers, no wars.....the analogy of starving the tax beast works here too

AldousHuxley's picture

no humans, no wars.

but then you will have monkeys ripping each other's face off for a chance to mate.


It is built in in nature.               War = game of competition over limited resources


capital corporate wars are as bad with labor exploitations. instead of killing others, you kill your soul.

FeralSerf's picture

Those wars do not belong to the humans that are doing the fighting and dying. It is not about mating. It's about power, money and control of a larger herd of livestock.

“Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.” --Henry Kissinger, quoted in “Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POW's in Vietnam”

Hermann Goering, Hitler's #2 Man:
"Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

my puppy for prez's picture

Bruce:  Thanks for saying what needs to be said.  You get the "Smedley Butler Medal"....

Ruffcut's picture

The contrast spread of american life verses being a foreign warrior, must be very wide. Cops in this country that are exposed to horrific crimes suffer in the same fashion.

Instead of saying thank you, being all appreciatitive feeling of their service, you should grow some balls and admit we are all fucktards for not paying attention to what's really going on. Always "going with the flow" type of attitude. Fighting for freedom my ass.

I know a shrink who does neurotherapy. Every soldier should have QEEG brain map and therapy to retrain normalized brain function. IT is a slow process and may not work in all cases. EEG helps the brain heal itself. THat would be the least we should do. But the elites write it off as disposable human consequences.  If I win a big lotto, I will start such a program. Until then, we have abandoned so many men and women, turning the other cheek.

dexter_morgan's picture

Thanks for the post Bruce. The saddest part is as you said - all these wars are stupid and unnecessary. Guys that came home from WWII didn't seem to suffer from this  issue in anywhere near as large a percentage as today's soldiers. Maybe because they came home to a grateful country and were treated for the most part as heroes. And, because the country was unified in fighting the Nazi's and war wasn't bandied about as a political and economic football.

The world, and this country in particular, is vastly different today. Soldiers are no longer appreciated or thought of as heroes, more likely they will be monitored for being a threat and possibly disrespected by many fellow citizens.

Is there a better person to lead us out of these endless wars than Ron Paul? He is a veteran, he knows what it is to be a soldier, yet all I hear is how 'soft' he is militarily because he wants to keep our troops here where they belong to defend our country as they are supposed to. Yet, he has a snowball's chance and is either bashed or totally ignored in most mainstream media I am familiar with.

Enough to make a person puke. Now we have Obame, Romney, and Santorum...........is there really any discernible diffrence?


AldousHuxley's picture

war has its time and place. when in defense, war is necessary, but today war is being used for something else.....for american elites to own the rest of the world.


power and influence and status doesn't come without WAR. That's what American elites want now. They are not happy being national elites...they want to be global elites.

AldoHux_IV's picture

End the wars, transfer all the pension benefits that senators/representatives/presidents receive in retirement to the pensions of veterans and let's start spending our defense budget on taking care of our wounded and troubled.

pops's picture

For most of us, it is a defining episode in our lives and we spend the rest of our days with it, wondering who we might be today if not for it.  No one DEROSd as a "cherry boy."


Good article, made me think.

Thanks Bruce

moroots's picture

Thanks for the proper perspective. 

How does the Obama adminstration show its gratitude to veterans?  By making it harder for veterans to sue for medical malpractice.


Moe Howard's picture

If I could sue the Army I would be a multi-millionaire for all the malpractice I "sucked up".

The Obama gang is trying to make it so the military family members cannot sue the Army. Not the veteran, he cannot now.

CH1's picture

They ALWAYS crap on the Vets.

Silver Dreamer's picture

When you sign the contract, you're basically waiving all of your rights.  Sue the military?  That's funny.

cfosnock's picture

You can sue the military for malpractice it is very hard and no it is not funny.

Silver Dreamer's picture

The idea of suing and winning is too funny in a sarcastic sense.  Apparently, a lot of folks on here have no sense of humor nor the abilty to sense sarcasm.  I was injured in the military.  They wouldn't even admit it let alone pay for my medical bills or compensate me.  Am I whining or bitching?  No, I am not.  I gained a great deal from the military, and I'm thankful for what I gained.  It was an honor to serve too.

Silver Dreamer's picture

Your choices have consequences.  I was in the military and am thankful to never have deployed.  A few times I came close, but it just never happened.  If I had deployed though, who's fault would it have been?  It would have been mine.  At least your friend volunteered.  Many people died in Vietnam that never even wanted to go.  They had no choice.

pops's picture

Yes, I "volunteered" also.  I had it made.  Dad died 6 months before, I had a stay at home mom, a little sister and brother, and I was making $36 a week.  My draft number was 362 but I "volunteered" anyway, so I deserved eveything I got. 

Do us a favor, friend.  STFU.


Silver Dreamer's picture

Aww, poor baby.  You're the only one that had people die in the family or who served, ehh?  My step-father was there as a corpsmen, and an uncle of mine was a door gunner.  I have many war veterans in my family, and my grand father died fighting fascists in France.

What the hell happened to individual responsibility in this country?  The war veterans I know don't whine like little bitches.

AldousHuxley's picture

Vets who don't whine like bitches but take care of shit like a real man:


67yo Vietnam vet vs. black racist



older British vet vs. skinhead



marine vs. sellout NYPD young cops




Nobody For President's picture

thanks Bruce, this is pretty personal with me (VietNam era vet). I lost three good vet friends, one in-country and two in the '80s that did not make it through therapy - suicides. The damn war will never end for some of us until we are dead. I get so pissed just thinking about it I try not to. Ron Paul is being called an isolationist, I suspect mostly by people who have never been shot at. It is no surprise his support is so high amoung active (and vet) military.


"Just imagine,..."

q99x2's picture

I know a few nurses that say the VA is not so good at taking care of Vets.

What type of person can feel they are so different from others that they consciously make decisions to go to war when we have f'n nukes? Who is going to attack us? The answer seems clear. Sociopathinc elite that consider everyone not like them as the enemy.

They must be stupid, frightened and powerful. But, each of us is the enemy if this terror is allowed to continue without the work required from everyone to stop it.

Thanks Bruce.

Peter Pan's picture

The fact is that until the children and grandchildren of politicians are compulsorily conscripted to join the front line of war, nothing will change.

New_Meat's picture

worth your going back into history, let's say to Rome, U.S. civil war, 1917 in Boston (clue: havhad classes of '18, '19, '20).

Why has "come back with your shield or on it" gone out of favour?

- Ned

non_anon's picture

watch "Full Metal Jacket"

alien-IQ's picture

While that is a masterfully made film, it suffers from the same fatal flaw that all Hollywood war films suffer: they always show the plight of the American soldier, but rarely touch on the consequences of where the American bombs fall. It never really shows the innocent victims.

If you want to see what it's really like to be on the receiving end of American aggression and the real aftermath the Vietnam war, take a look at "Year Zero" by John Pilger.


And after seeing that, just keep this in mind: the two men most responsible for that carnage, Pol Pot and Henry Kissinger, shared the Nobel Peace Prize for "ending the war".

blunderdog's picture

it suffers from the same fatal flaw that all Hollywood war films suffer: they always show the plight of the American soldier

That's not a "flaw."  That's PERSPECTIVE.  It's one of the components of a work of art.

I recommend reading the books, too--you can find them online, and there's a bit more attention paid to the victims in the books.  Joker ends up living with the VC, although the third book wasn't finished.