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Another Casualty

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Last week “bicycle ridin, banjo pickin, peace rambling hillbilly from Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas” Jacob David George died as a result of moral injuries sustained in Afghanistan. Jacob joined the US Army before the attacks of 9/11. He served three tours of Afghanistan (2001, 2002, 2003/4) and came back a changed man. He said that after witnessing wholesale slaughter and picking through body parts he was affected by Post Traumatic Stress. He understood that to be profoundly affected by war was not a disorder. Jacob often talked about the moral component of PTS, the trauma caused by taking part in or witnessing events that are contrary to your very being. This is different to the PTSD of the military psychiatrist who is interested in events that put the individuals own life in danger. This is the opposite, it is trauma caused by harming others. Jacob advocated for healing rituals and ceremonies to come to terms with the trauma of war. He talked about the need to heal the soul as well as the brain. He described throwing his medals back to the US Government during the 2012 NATO protests in Chicago as the most therapeutic thing he had done. The following is a poem written by Jacob that he later turned into a song.

Support the Troops

“We just Need to support the troops” is what they tell me well,
This is from a troop so listen carefully,
What we Need are teachers who understand the history of this country,
What we Need is a decent living wage, so people ain’t cold and hungry,
What we Need is bicycle infrastructure spanning this beauteous nation.

What we Need are more trees and less play stations,
What we Need is a justice system that seeks the truth,
What we Need are more books and less boots,
What we Need is love for every woman and man,
From southern Louisiana to the mountains of Afghanistan.

Now, it’s true the troops need support,
The support to come home,
They need treatment and jobs and love for the soul,
See, war ain’t no good for the human condition,
I lost a piece of who I was on every single mission,
And I’m tellin’ you, don’t thank me for what I’ve done,
Give me a big hug and let me know we’re not gonna let this happen again,
Because we support the troops and we’re gonna bring these wars to an end.

In the USA 22 veterans kill themselves every day. In 2012 more UK soldiers and veterans killed themselves than were killed in Afghanistan. In the USA 30% of veterans have considered suicide. More veterans of the Falklands War have committed suicide than were killed in action. The suicide rate among veterans in the USA is double that of the civilian rate. These statements are controversial not because they overestimate the problem but because these figures do not include the veterans who drink themselves to death. The veterans who no longer care for their own well being and drive cars into trees or the veterans who die homeless on the streets. To admit the scale of the problem would be an admission that war is harmful to those who take part in it long after returning home.

In memory of Jacob David George and in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the USA please consider donating to the Jacob George Celebration of Life Fund which will help pay for a celebration/memorial event on Sunday 5 October in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

RIP Brother.

 

  • Gus Hales 24/09/2014, 17:37

    Unfortunately the story repeats itself, I have been to far to many funerals. For anyone suffering from PTS, there is no disorder, apart from the fact you have seen through the bullshit. The death of Jacob is why I wrote this poem. REST IN PEACE Jacob, I will try to honour your legacy

    http://goo.gl/6jMy8f

  • Joe Lidster 25/09/2014, 01:46

    Rest in peace mate.

  • Willy Bach 25/09/2014, 04:47

    Jacob David George died as a result of moral injuries sustained in Afghanistan. This broke me up. Thanks for the song, brother. Our politicians want to perpetuate the mess they made in Iraq and spread it in Syria. We must say no now.

  • Linda Foley 25/09/2014, 05:11

    Thank you for posting this. News of Jacob’s death was a real shock. I would never have thought he was capable of it, since he was always smiling, so active, using his musical talents for peace. Now, this tells me that I need to be aware that my veteran friends and acquaintances in the peace movement are still dealing with issues of the war experience. I was honored to have met him and spend time with him, brief as it was and honored to know so many wonderful veterans. Jacob, the only consolation is knowing that your spirit is now with the stars.

  • Karen Barsoe 25/09/2014, 09:27

    Thank you for the poem / song. I will use it. I did not know you Jacob, but for sure reacting to war is a sign of mental health – – not an illness. It is not regarded as that, and then it becomes unbearable. RIP my friend that I did not know.

  • Belinda 27/09/2014, 03:27

    I have a friend in Afghanistan and I pray that he not only comes home but that he comes home whole. RIP Jacob.

  • Joey King 28/09/2014, 13:01

    I am heartbroken by Jacob’s suicide. I met him about 3-1/2 years ago when he was bicycling through Nashville. I am going to use his line “obsessed by non-violence.” I have only learned the term “moral injury” recently, but Jacob lived it. Moral injury starts in basic training.

    In the US military, from 2004-2013 deployed veteran suicide rates doubled while non-deployed suicides tripled. What does that tell ya? We are loosing this battle. In Tennessee, veteran suicides increased from 197 in 2012 to 214 in 2013 (8.4%).

  • Garry Harriman 07/10/2014, 15:10

    THE NEOCNS

    The Neocons came in a stolen election,
    Democrat/Republican, there`s no real selection
    They saw a chance for America to lead
    We all join in unity to watch the world bleed
    They needed an event that we would all remember
    Then came that day in a fateful September

    You`re with us or against us and don`t ask us why
    Their weapons of war unleashed from the sky
    United as one against a new global threat
    A darker truth lurks of that you can bet

    A dependence on oil beneath scorching sand
    We mess in your politics and control your land
    In the deserts of Persia or the Caspian Sea
    We covert your resources with psychotic glee

    We do what we must to control and defend
    So that we can consume, profit and spend
    Do as we say and turn a blind eye
    As millions suffer, and painfully die