Printed on: March 24, 2013

Coming home broken

Brian Morris
Guest columnist

The people of this country should be ashamed at how our war veterans are treated when they return from foreign shores, writes Brian Morris.

I recently read an Associated Press article about a veteran that didn't make it. Captain Peter Linnerooth was an Army psychologist. He counseled soldiers during some of the fiercest fighting in Iraq. Hundreds upon hundreds sought his help: for nightmares and insomnia, for shock and grief, and for reaching that point where they just wanted to end it all.

Linnerooth left Iraq in 2007. He'd seen enough.

As the new year dawned, Pete Linnerooth, Bronze Star recipient, admired Army captain and devoted father, turned his gun on himself.

Throughout history, there have been wars. How those who fight those wars are treated when they come home has changed into something shameful.

Soldiers do not declare war, choose where they fight or who they fight. They serve their country, offer their lives and leave their families. Some do not return. Once, they were revered and treated as brave people who sacrificed for their country. That has changed and it is fair to ask: Who is the champion of those who sacrifice for our country?

We send soldiers into vile, hostile environments. For what? Oil? Ego? Politics? I don't buy into the nonsense of "saving the world" or "protecting freedom." Dead is dead. And the reason that you were killed is critical.

I know exactly how much support from home means. It is the desire for our families to be secure. We are willing to give our lives for our country, and yet you do not want to treat us appropriately.

We go to war for your political agenda. We get blown up. Often, it's better to be the dead one than to be forced to live with the visions of our brothers and sisters being blown up. We come home broken -- emotionally, physically and morally. We are angry, hateful and violent. Our marriages fall apart. Our families are torn apart. We do stupid things. We kill ourselves. Are we not worthy of help?

Don't list programs for veterans. They don't work. Vets are homeless and destitute. So, the "sequester" happens and funds are cut for the military. Shame on America's politicians.

The country pays our military NCOs at and below the poverty level. How many will offer their life for the minimum wage? Is a living wage and benefits so awful a contribution to those of us who are willing to put our lives on the line for this country? And how about taking care of the surviving family of a veteran killed in the service of the country?

Exactly what have we accomplished by our wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya? Everybody hates us. Several countries want to destroy us and the big-money people that put us in these wars don't even care.

I know the families of the dead care.

Morris is a Vietnam veteran who lives in Idaho Falls.