Index Research will focus on a country or an issue which is of particular interest to me. Articles have appeared on and others.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Iraq: Victims of Violence

by Sarah Meyer

(updated 03.03.07)
This article will be continually updated until all occupation forces leave Iraq.
See "Updates" for relevant stories concerning soldiers in Iraq and their traumas.

The people of Iraq are traumatised. The horrors of torture, murder, death and devastation presently being experienced by the Iraqi people are truly terrible.

I went to work with those afflicted by the Bosnian war because I felt compelled to understand the nature of ‘evil’. Why are people so very horribly violent towards other people and, especially, towards innocent people? I did not find an answer. Nor did there seem to be an answer in the multitude of books I read about the WWII holocaust, or in the volumes of Jung and Dzogchen Buddhism. Nor does Hanna Arendt’s “banality of evil” embrace the suffering pain resultant from ‘evil.’ Perhaps ‘evil’ is the dark shadow, the enemy, within each of us that we do not acknowledge. Perhaps that is too facile. Perhaps I will never know the answer to the question ‘what is evil?’

I had another question: what was the relationship between the victim and the victimizer? When the group solidarity of a war situation is not there anymore, what happens to the soldier, for example? Some soldiers don’t seem affected by their war life. Many react strongly.

The question is relevant to Iraq. Terrible crimes are being committed against Iraqi civilians. US soldiers are returning to America traumatised by what they have seen, by what they have done. Some have committed suicide.


See We’re sorry. Video, 22 minutes


Whilst I was running three clinics during the Bosnian war, I listened to victims of rape and violence. I listened to grieving family members. I also listened to soldiers. I was given permission to tell their stories.

Soldier A. came to see me. He was in his early twenties - thin, pale, and sweating. His eyes did not look outward towards Tomislav Petrosic, my translator, or myself. They were dark eyes boring inwards. His hands twisted around each other. He found it difficult to speak. Sometimes he stuttered. He was soft-spoken. He did not swear or swagger. “No, I cannot tell you my story. You are a woman. But I will tell your translator, and he can tell you.”

Soldier A. was with three men. The other soldiers, he said, knifed open a pregnant woman’s belly and ripped the foetus out, almost fully grown. The other soldiers, he said, then stuffed a dead dog inside the woman, who died.

Soldier A. came back into the room. Sometimes he sat, sometimes he paced around the room. He very slowly told me why he had come to see me. He had not been able to sleep for more than 10 minutes at a time for a year. He had nightmares. His eating habits were erratic. He always saw the crime before his eyes, awake or asleep. He thought of suicide, often. He came to see me many times. Sometimes he would talk. Sometimes he sat silently. I learned, with difficulty, to have compassion.

A soldier becomes the victim of his own violence. Blowback.


Now I have more questions.

How does one find compassion for the soldier who has no remorse?


The accomplices who supported this war with depleted uranium and napalm bombs, torture and “rendition” – the members of Congress, the Senate, Parliament, Stephen Cambone and the US/UK Intelligence community, the US lawyers and the UK Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith – the PNAC 1998 signatories, the weapons makers, the security firms, the mercenaries, the corporate contract signers, the oil Tsars – will they twist their hands, pace the room, feel suicidal?

Will those responsible for this monstrous war in Iraq – George Bush, Tony Blair, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfovitz – will they ever have all the tortured, dead and future dead of Iraq before their eyes, awake or asleep, daily, for the rest of their life on earth?

And if so, will I - will all of us who are so angry about this war - will we have any compassion for our very own home-grown, hopefully prosecuted war criminals?


See: 4 minute video, A nation blind to their disgrace, No Bravery

See: How GI Resistance Altered the Course of History. Interview with Joseph Stiglitz on the hidden costs of war - for example, troop injuries.

See: The Century of the Self. Part II, The Engineering of Consent

For eight different Iraq veteran groups in the US, see



War Without End
04.06. More than 16,000 U.S. soldiers have been wounded. Each injury ripples through lives with its own pattern and force. And as two soldiers and their families are discovering, the war will be with them forever.


A Broken, De-Humanized Military in Iraq
30.09.06. Dahr Jamail. “Another report released last weekend from the Veterans Health Administration found that over one third of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans seeking medical treatment are reporting symptoms of stress or other metal disorders. This is a tenfold increase in the last 18 months alone.”

The US Occupation of Iraq: Casualties Not Counted
05.10.06. Dahr Jamail, Truth Out. “Civilian contractors in Iraq, though they are paid handsomely for their time there, are easily lost in a legal no-man's-land if tragedy strikes.” The story of Tim Eysselinck’s suicide.

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Depression in Battle-Injured Soldiers
10.06. Report, American Journal of Psychiatry.
and accompanying story:
PTSD Can Take Months to Strike Wounded Iraq and Afghanistan Vets
06.10.06. Forbes.

VA Takes Nine Months to Locate Data on Disability Claims by Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
10.10.06. National Security Archive. “Report Indicates that 1 in 4 Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism Claim Disabilities. … newly released data suggests official estimates dramatically understate the future cost of the current Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. If the current trend continues, then VA could receive as many as 400,000 disability claims from the 1.6 million deployed active duty and reserve service members in the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).”
Article includes pdf files for:
• Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among 464,144 Veterans Deployed to the Global War on Terror
VBA Report, January 30, 2006.

• Gulf War Veterans Information System
VBA Report, (GWVIS) February 2006.

• Compensation and Pension Benefit Activity Among Veterans Deployed to the Global War on Terrorism
VBA Report, 20.07.06.

The US Occupation of Iraq: Casualties Not Counted
15.10.06. Dahr Jamail, Truth Out. …As you read this there are approximately 100,000-125,000 American civilian contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan. … A year back, in November 2005, the US Department of Labor listed 428 civilian contractors dead and 3,963 wounded in Iraq - none of which are ever counted in the official casualty counts. … Given the astronomical profits posted by these defense contractors, in addition to widespread fraud and waste, it is difficult to believe that any administration would want to adhere to this model, unless of course certain members of that administration were financially profiting from it. … Tim Eysselinck became one of the thousands of uncounted and unaccounted-for civilian casualties in Cheney's so-called war on terror.”

Montana Guardsmen bring home hidden wounds

16.10.06. E. Newhouse, Great Falls Tribune. "Every one of my guys (patients) except one from the 163rd witnessed IEDs (improvised explosive devices)," said Keli Remus of Chinook Winds Counseling in Great Falls. "All were shot at or have shot others," he said. "All had at least heard of rapes." Meanwhile, “Television images of Americans fighting — and dying — in Iraq are traumatizing Vietnam veterans all over again.

Vet Centers see escalating demand for help as troops return
18.10.06. D. Goldstein, McClatchey.

Troops With Stress Disorders Being Redeployed
19.10.06. CBS. The cases of Bryce Syverson and Jason Gunn. Video.

Mind games, part 1: The things they carry
24.10.06. N. Goldstein, Raw Story. PART I, The things they carry: Mental health disorders among returning troops

Combat Stress Organisation, UK

One dead, four lives ruined: the true cost of war in Iraq
05.11.06. A. MacMillan, Scotsman. ‘In a tragic and moving illustration of the deep crisis facing Britain's armed services, a Scotland on Sunday investigation has found that four of the six soldiers who bore the coffin of a colleague shot dead in Iraq are either quitting in disgust or are on long-term sick leave and likely to quit.’

US soldiers' suicide rate in Iraq doubles in 2005
19.12.06. Reuters. Twenty-two U.S. soldiers in Iraq took their own lives in 2005, a rate of 19.9 per 100,000 soldiers. In 2004, the rate was 10.5 per 100,000 and in 2003, the year of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the figure was 18.8 per 100,000. The figures cover U.S. Army soldiers only. They do not include members of other U.S. military services in Iraq such as the Marine Corps.

Repeat Iraq Tours Raise Risk of PTSD, Army Finds
20.12.06. Washington Post. U.S. soldiers serving repeated Iraq deployments are 50 percent more likely than those with one tour to suffer from acute combat stress, raising their risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the Army's first survey exploring how today's multiple war-zone rotations affect soldiers' mental health.

Iraq Vets Falling Through Health-Care Cracks
20.12.06. Forbes

Experts: Iraq vets wrongly diagnosed
24.12.06. Austin American Statesman. Soldiers suffering from the stress of combat in Iraq are being misdiagnosed by military doctors as having a personality disorder, lawyers and psychologists say, which allows them to be quickly and honorably discharged but stigmatizes them with a label that is hard to dislodge and can hurt them financially.

Soldiers and Imperial Presidents
03.01.06. Charles Sullivan, ICH. The vast majority of those who serve in the United States military probably do so with the best of intentions and with honor. The belief that they are defending their country from foreign attackers and doing their patriotic duty as citizens is persistently reinforced. Military service is one of America’s sacred cows; it is something that is rarely questioned and is surrounded by an invisible aura of nobility. No one, especially those who serve, wants to think of their time in the military as anything less than honorable and worthy of glorification.

But the trouble with sacred cows is that they tend to preclude critical examination and often escape the scrutiny of rational thinking and moral judgments. … Anyone considering military service should deliberate upon the promises proffered by recruiters with extreme skepticism. Recruiters are trained to exalt war as the highest expression of patriotism and love of country; when, in fact, it is often the most debasing expression of our humanity that makes a shallow mockery of real service to god and country. The war resister and the conscientious objector may be the true patriot. … Marketing militarism and war to society at large is no different than selling potato chips laced with trans-fats or carcinogenic chemicals

Iraq vets' suicide rate soars
15.01.07. Channel 4 news report and video

Johnny Got His Gun
15.01.07. William Blum, Counterpunch. A report on how US govn. uses soldiers as Death Fodder.

A Grim Milestone: 500 Amputees
18.01.07. The giant transport planes unload their sad cargo at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, the first stop home for the most seriously injured Americans of the Iraq war. Arriving virtually every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday nights for the past four years, the parade of wounded warriors may be one of the most predictable events in an otherwise unruly conflict.

Iraq Vets Falling Through Health-Care Cracks
20.12.06. Forbes.

Unstable Gulf war veteran killed family
30.01.07. M. Wainwright, Guardian.

Care for U.S. veterans could cost $662 bln: study
02.02.07. Reuters / Washington Post. Medical costs for U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could range from $350 billion to $662 billion over the next 40 years, as soldiers survive injuries that would have killed them in past conflicts, according to a Harvard University study.

Pentagon Red Tape Keeps Medical Records From Doctors of the Wounded

16.02.07. Washington Post. Department of Veterans Affairs doctors are furious over a recent decision by the Pentagon to block their access to medical information needed to treat severely injured troops arriving at VA hospitals from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The VA physicians handle troops with serious brain injuries and other major health problems. They, rely on digital medical records that track the care given wounded troops from the moment of their arrival at a field hospital through their evacuation to the United States.

Care for U.S. veterans could cost $662 bln-study
02.02.07. Reuters. (Over the next 40 years) From a study by the Department of Veterans Affairs data.

Troops return to painful wait for needed help
05.02.07. Weaver / McGovern, ICH Blog. The California Nurses Association reported that in the first quarter of 2006, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs "treated 20,638 Iraq veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, and they have a backlog of 400,000 cases." A returning soldier has to wait an average of 165 days for a VA decision on initial disability benefits, and an appeal can take up to three years.

Waivers to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds double from 2003 to 2006

13.02.07. Raw Story / Global Research. ‘In Wednesday's New York Times, Lizette Alvarez notes that "the number of waivers the military granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has nearly doubled in the past three years, jumping to more than 8,000 in 2006 from about 4,900 in 2003, Department of Defense records show."

VA comes up short for Iraq vets
11.02.07. McClatchy / Seattle Times. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is facing a wave of returning veterans such as Bowman who are struggling with memories of a war where it's hard to distinguish innocent civilians from enemy fighters and where the threat of suicide attacks and roadside bombs haunts the most routine mission. Since 2001, about 1.4 million Americans have served in Iraq, Afghanistan or other locations in the war on terror.
The VA counts post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as the most prevalent mental-health malady to emerge from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The story itemises the failures of the Dept of Vet Affairs in helping returning soldiers.

Photo : Bill Greene/Boston Globe

U.S. to pay long-term price of war wounds Estimate pegs costs at $350 billion
14.02.07. Dogen Hannah, MEDIANEWS STAFF.

US Ill-Equipped to Deal With Wave of Troubled Vets
15.02.07. Aaron Glantz.

The Forgotten Families
16.02.07. D. St. George, Washington Post. Grandparents Raising Slain Soldiers' Children Are Denied A Government Benefit Intended to Sustain the Bereaved.

Wounded and Waiting
17.02.07. K. Kennedy, Marine Times. A slow medical evaluation leaves many injured troops in limbo.

Long Iraq Tours Can Make Home a Trying Front
23.02.07. L. Alvarez, New York Times.

Battle Worn
25.02.07. P. Span, Washington Post. After he was injured in Iraq, Richard Twohig found himself fighting an unexpected foe: the U.S. Army.

IG finds 87 problems with medical retirement
26.02.07. Army Times.

Critics: Army holding down disability ratings
27.02.07. Army Times.

Report: Mental health system overwhelmed
27.02.07. Army Times. 40% of Army, Navy psych jobs vacant.

In Iraq, a head wound isn't always a trip home
27.02.07. MSNBC. Military personnel with brain injuries pressured to return quickly to duty



Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility
18.02.07. D. Priest / A. Hull, Washington Post.

This Is No Way to Treat a Wounded Warrior
24.02.07. A. McFeeters, Boston Herald / Truth Out. Walter Reed Hospital's flaws are indefensible. A day at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is an eye-opener - about our soldiers, our government generally and the Bush administration. . I visited the renowned hospital after The , ashington Post exposed serious problems at the center, where as many as one-fourth of our injured soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are treated.

Administrative Issues Cited at Walter Reed
25.02.07. S. Vogel, Washington Post. Report From Long-Running Army Probe Notes Problems; Official Orders Fixes.

A Firsthand Report on the Wounds of War
27.02.07. H. Kurtz, Washington Post. Bob Woodruff Indicts Military For Its Response to Veteran.

Walter Reid patients told to keep quiet
28.02.07. Army Times.

Military press Crackdown Extends Further Than Walter Reed
28.02.07. Editor and Publisher.

Supporting the Troops: "Shut Up and Suffer"
28.02.07. Chris Floyd, uruknet. 'Because some soldiers were ballsy enough to tell the press about the callous way the Bush gang treats the cannon fodder it sends off to die, kill, maim and be maimed in a useless, pointless, illegal, corrupt, immoral, murderous, mismanaged war, now all the soldiers in Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Medical Hold Unit are being subjected to a punishment regimen – and banished to an area where they will be inaccessible to the press.'

Top officials knew of neglect at Walter Reed
01.03.07. MSNBC. Complaints about medical center were voiced for years.

US army hospital chief removed from post
02.03.07. New Zealand Herald. r General George Weightman, head of the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington DC, was informed that Army leaders had lost confidence "in his abilities to address needed solutions for soldier outpatient care," an Army statement said.

Notes on our 'family and friends' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
01.03.07. Kentucky Courier Journal. Hundreds of soldiers maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan are experiencing average stays of 10 months at Walter Reed, but some have been there for as long as two years. They're all struggling to recover from brain

02.03.07. Secrecy News. The somber duties associated with official reporting of U.S. Army casualties, including notification of survivors, are spelled out in exhaustive detail in a new Army regulation. See Army Casualty Program,"Army Regulation AR 600-8-1 (February 28, 2007)

30.03.07. The Insider Martin Bell on Britain's Throwaway Soldiers. Martin Bell, former war reporter and politician, comes to the defence of our armed forces to argue that our servicemen and women are being badly let down by their political masters. Bell believes it is time to enshrine in legislation each serviceman's rights to the best health care, for both physical and psychological injuries, for the rest of their lives after they leave service.

If you wish to know what your Mainstream Media does not tell or show you, Read these stories and look at these photographs:UNSPEAKABLE GRIEF AND HORROR

See: Iraq: Victims of Violence
by Sarah Meyer, Index Research, 07.04.06.


The url to Iraq: Victims of Violence is:

Sarah Meyer is a researcher living in Sussex, UK.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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