Monday, May 15, 2006

Too Much Television

"Warning: The Army surgeon general has determined that allowing soldiers to watch movies about war is more hazardous than actually fighting in one."

That's right. Army surgeon general Lt. General Kevin Kiley has told CNN that HBO's upcoming documentary, "Baghdad ER" is so graphic that military personnel who watch it might suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Dr. Kiley is concerned, and he's not afraid to say it. He thinks that soldiers previously or currently stationed in Iraq who watch the in-depth documentary which is in an unvarnished look at wartime casualties in a war that has been largely hidden from public view could "experience many emotions." (God forbid!) He also feared that merely viewing the documentary could precipitate symptoms of PTSD.

This is fascinating, because according to this article in the Charlotte Observer (Charlotte would be in North Carolina -- that's a red state, fyi), the Army has been having a really hard time admitting that any of the soldiers who fought in Iraq actually have PTSD. Fewer than 10,000 out of 178,000 soldiers were diagnosed as being at risk for PTSD by the Army upon their return from duty. What's more, 78% of all the at-risk vets were not able to get referrals for PTSD follow-up treatment once they returned home. .

So, apparently of nearly 180,000 soldiers who actually fought in Iraq, the Army has deemed less than 10,000 of them were damaged enough to be at risk for PTSD. And of the ones who are diagnosed, only 22% were considered valuable or important enough to receive post-discharge treatment by the military. Still, the Army's top doctor is worried that sitting in an easy chair from the safety of a base rec room, viewing a documentary showing graphic depictions of injuries sustained in Iraq could be so devastating to the psyche as to drive an otherwise sane soldier into the arms of madness.

Because this is America, and these are the lies we like to tell ourselves so that we can sleep at night.



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