The National Alliance on Mental Illness is urging that soldiers who come home with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) be considered for Purple Hearts.
Fair enough, but that news makes me wonder if it’s time to start awarding medals to soldiers who come home from war without having been injured physically or mentally – maybe the greatest accomplishment of all. A medal, say, with a big Superman “S” on it.
Recently a life-threatening medical condition that required emergency surgeries showed me that it doesn’t take a war to traumatize a person. When a psyche is wounded in such a way not by everyday personal fate, but in fighting for one’s country, its owner ought to be both cared for and honored just as he would for an injury to the body.
On the other hand, that same experience has also shown me how susceptible we are to the kind of mental trauma that results in PTSD. It’s hard to imagine not emerging from combat so injured; I suspect you need to be exceptionally strong (or psychopathic) to get through it unscathed. If so, shouldn’t we be honoring those rare steely soldiers?
That such an eminently sensible suggestion is also clearly absurd says all that needs to be said against ever adventuring into war.