Tag Archives: pentagon

Of PTSD, Purple Hearts and the Pentagon’s Shame

It seems clear that one of the goals of warfare is to render your opponent’s warriors incapable of fighting. If that’s not one of the goals, then why would you try to kill their soldiers? Therefore, inflicting enough psychological damage to keep them off the battlefield would logically seem to be a weapon of choice.

PSYOPS (psychological operations), according to Wikipedia, have “been used by military institutions throughout history.”

I am not declaring that PsyOps either does or does not calculate the quantity or quality of injuries and death inflicted on the enemy to maximize post-traumatic stress disorder casualties. I have no way of knowing if that is covered by their mission. Although there must have been some reason that the initial assault in the current war with Iraq was called Shock and Awe. Wikipedia’s entry for Shock and Awe reads, in part, as follows: “the use of overwhelming power, dominant battlefield awareness, dominant maneuvers, and spectacular displays of force to paralyze an adversary’s perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight (emphasis mine).”

Here is a link to psywarrior.com’s links to sites devoted to psychological operations and warfare. I present that as a reminder that psychological operations and the resultant damage inflicted on soldiers and civilians is a well-known and long-standing art of warfare (if such practices can be called an art).

What has this to do with anxiety? Let’s recall that post-traumatic stress disorder falls under the anxiety disorder classification.

In that vein, the Pentagon has determined that soldiers returning from battle with post-traumatic stress disorder do not qualify for Purple Hearts. Their reasoning, as reported by the Army Times, is that PTSD does not meet the criteria of a Purple Heart:

“The Purple Heart recognizes those individuals wounded to a degree that requires treatment by a medical officer, in action with the enemy or as the result of enemy action where the intended effect of a specific enemy action is to kill or injure the service member.”

If one side launches a fiercely violent and brutal assault, at least part of the casualities will be soldiers who have witnessed their fellow service personnel and friends die, get injured or maimed in ways that are highly likely to traumatize the witnesses. Any armed force, whether aggressor or victim, who failed to take that into their calculations would be foolish indeed.

In its wisdom the Pentagon, again according to the Army Times, goes further to say that “PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event.” It is not “a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an outside force or agent…”

What possible line of reasoning could they be using? It would seem that they are ignoring their own PsyOps division.

So much for logic, reason and parity between “physical” and “mental” injury and illness.

And shame on the Pentagon.