As a Vietnam veteran, I thank you for publishing Gregg Brekke’s article (“Wounded Souls,” April 2014) about veterans’ troubles, especially on the emotional and spiritual level. The incidence of suicide has been growing ever since the Vietnam War. I call the reader’s attention to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., and the number of deaths inscribed on the wall. Now double it—that’s the number of confirmed suicides by Vietnam vets that have occurred since the war.
Yet American veterans from other wars, especially the Civil War and World War II, have suffered more and not blown themselves away. I call it “The Bad War Syndrome.” Combat veterans are not fools: They know in their guts (sometimes literally) whether a war is “just” or “unjust.” The decision to go to war absolutely must only be after all diplomacy has failed, with the knowledge that things do not go according to plan, and that care, whether physical or psychological, must continue for years, until the last veterans and their spouses have died.
Michael E. Peterson