New York Magazine delves into the tidal wave of returning soldiers tormented by severe psychological problems and outfitted with cocktail-like regimens of drugs for sleeping, stress, psychosis, and muscle relaxation. Contributing factors include everything from the nature of insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan to Facebook to the failings of modern medicine:
The nature of this conflict is also quite unusual. As in Vietnam, the enemy blends in with civilians, rendering everyone a potential threat; but unlike in Vietnam, this war is fought in cities as much as in the hinterlands, which means soldiers are never allowed to mentally decompress.
There’s no front in this war, and no rear either, which means there’s no place to go where the mortar rounds aren’t. “I was up at Walter Reed the other day,” Chiarelli tells me on the airplane, “and I ran into a young kid who lost both his legs, wayyyyyy up. I asked him, ‘How did it happen?’ You know what he said?” He pauses, looks at me intently. He’s big and barrel-chested, with crow’s feet so pronounced they look like they’ve been stamped into his temples with a fork. “He said, ‘Sir, I was standing in line at the PX to get shaving cream, and a 120-millimeter mortar came in and took off both my legs.’ ”
Read More: New York Magazine