I just watched the movie "The Ground Truth" as part of my MoveOn.org activism. It is a documentary composed entirely of interviews with vets of the "war on Iraqis" [I can no longer call it "the war in Iraq".]
Their comments and stories are intense. My wife who was born in Baghdad could not watch and left. The first segments are on how systematic dehumanizing is necessary to make killers out of the recruits. Then it progresses to just how effective that training is. It will always be hard to watch a brawny grown man, alternating between vacant stare and going to pieces, describe how humans got to be targets to him, men women or children. A paraphrase of what several soldiers describe: "We go into a place where there are no clear targets and we don't even know how to say "good morning" to the natives but in the fraction of a second after we come under fire, must decide who to shoot at..we shoot everything". Our war, by training and by tactics utterly mismatched to the insurgency, has become randomly lethal for Iraqis and more psychologically damaging to our own combat troops than any previous war. These experiences absolutely rewire a person, never for the better.
The comments are organized into several themes and two that are most poignant are how PTSD is actively misdiagnosed by the Army at discharge time as "personality disorder" so no VA benefits will be available. The next theme is just as hard to watch. Having wasted lives in Iraq, we then abandon the killers to their waking nightmares when they come back. Intrusive thoughts, suicidal thoughts, instantaneous violent rage at everyday annoyances and various kinds and severities of depression..the catalog of breakage to these people, and it is a wildly underestimated percentage of the soldiers due to the army policies, is heartbreaking. I use "we" because it is on our behalf allegedly that all this is being done.
I recommend the movie by the way. I cannot describe the intensity of my disgust for this war and the "leaders" that sold it or the followers who bought it. We can't blame everything on Bush. But if we don't take the guns away from that child, more will die. The longer we fail to rise up and stop the war, the more blame we should accept. Emotions were manipulated to get us into the war, high time they were enlisted to get us out.