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Jacob Hornberger: Guilt, Not PTSD, Is What Afflicts Iraq War Veterans

by Jacob G. Hornberger | February 5, 2013

Ex-military sniper Chris Kyle was killed last Saturday at the hands of another Iraq War veteran, Eddie Ray Routh. Routh is one of the many Iraq veterans suffering severe mental problems, and Kyle was helping him cope. Kyle figured a good way to help Routh with his struggles was to take him to a gun range. It turned out to be a fatal decision. Routh opened fire on Kyle and another friend, killing them both. Routh is now in jail in Texas facing capital murder charges.

According to the New York Times, last September Routh threatened to murder his family and to commit suicide. He had gotten upset when his father threatened to sell his gun. Routh was arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital in Dallas. He told the police that he was a Marine veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is the common diagnosis for the many soldiers who served in Iraq and who are now suffering severe mental problems. The diagnosis relates to the stress that soldiers undergo in combat.

I’ve got another explanation for the mental problems suffered by Routh and the other Iraq War veterans: guilt — massive unresolved guilt over the wrongful killing of other human beings.

Let’s keep in mind that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks. In fact, Iraq never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. In the Iraq War, the U.S. government was the aggressor. Iraq was the defending nation.

Continue reading at: FFF.org

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Is there something I missed?

Why would he take him to a range to deal with PTSD? The act of doing so would seem like it would bring this type of thing that happened about. Maybe there's something I missed...sure doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

I don't know the truth

Since I've never been in combat. To me it seems that if there was a perfect way to remove your soul and purpose in life, it's to be turned into a cold blooded killer. Most of those men mature and will later realize their purpose in life is destroyed through lies and meaningless acts.

Understanding that, it would be a powerful way to become deeply depressed. Nothing at that point would matter as they can't remove what they did and saw.

Spirituality is mocked, the bible is put down (sometimes rightly so) and many just don't know what path to take in life. They are lost. So in the confusion you go along with what others tell you is right. It's sad more than something we should be mad at. Many people going into the military just don't know that what they visualize is going to be different than in reality.

It would be interesting to hear solutions from veterans on the issue with PTSD. I think they are the only ones who can (besides avoiding the military) give the real solutions to the problem.

Guilt?

I accept what is written to a point. Guilt(as explained) may be an underlying/associated factor, but trust a p.t.s.d. sufferer(never been to war)that 'guilt' did not solely cause his described action. It is obvious that the writer of that article doesn't know his ass from his elbow about post traumatic stress disorder! flashbacks, visions, unexpected virtual re-living a life threatening event. This author/writer should study p.t.s.d. before spewing speculations as fact.

What is PTSD, if not other than guilt

People are adept at handling traumatic situations, be they accidents, self-defensive acts, or even murder. The key in overcoming any traumatic event is how a person is able to understand it and rationalize it.

When a person has a difficult time understanding a traumatic event and is unable to rationalize it with him or herself than the person becomes victim of cognitive dissonance-an internal struggle/war in the mind.

In more letters-PTSD.

One Solution for Military Suicides

The only answer for some of these young men is to seek forgiveness and redemption (to various extents). In the 1986 movie "The Mission" I vividly recall the the culmination of Robert De Niro's struggle to confront his murderous deeds against the indians on behalf of the Spanish Empire in 16th century South America. The rest of the movie entails his unending search for redemption:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-zsyVXJ9qM

Guilt by brainwashing?

Troops do what they are ordered to do. They do not have the license to act independently, so there is no reason anyone of them should have guilt, as that belongs to those who gave the orders.

No one can grant a licence to absolve responsibility...

You say that about american soldiers but what of others? Who's acts crimes it's socially acceptable to judge

Stalin's and Hitler's henchmen no guilt? Pot pots, no guilt?

Shame too.

: {

This took a lot of courage to say.

almost afraid to read comments on the original story.

9-11 was a panda job.

ecorob's picture

May this truth...

fill the world!

its 'cos I owe ya, my young friend...
Rockin' the FREE world in Tennessee since 1957!
9/11 Truth.

Anger?

I would think that a hell of a lot of ANGER would be in the equation. I know it would be with me.

skippy

Simplified and Inflamitroy Hypothesis

I am an OIF vet and there is no doubt in my mind that guilt is certainly an element in the picture, but to think that guilt is the only thing going on is a little preposterous. This article is a great way to simplify a concept and achieve confirmation bias.

If nothing, it is a little ironic that a liberty oriented person would take a broad brush and stereotype thousands of people's traumatic combat experiences (to be clear, there is no justification of morality/lack there of in this statement). Does this guy even have any research in the area?

Down-vote?

I happen to think you are very accurate in your assessment! As a physician, surgeon, pain management doctor, I can guarantee you, everyone is different. No one responds the same to any incident. I am sure, the vast majority of our guys, are not getting PTSD. I am just as sure, some people are being labeled as that, when it is actually some other mental aberration. This caused by the fact that killing another human being, especially collateral damage, like innocent children, could cause a, severe, reactive depression. It could turn into clinical depression, if not treated when the initial incident occurs. It ain't that simple!

If you do down my comment

Please provide a response. If I am wrong, let me know why. Or have we become devoid of debate?

What is PTSD, if not other than guilt

People are adept at handling traumatic situations, be they accidents, self-defensive acts, or even murder. The key in overcoming any traumatic event is how a person is able to understand it and rationalize it.

When a person has a difficult time understanding a traumatic event and is unable to rationalize it with him or herself than the person becomes victim of cognitive dissonance-an internal struggle/war in the mind.

In more letters-PTSD.

Just Upped You Dude

I don't see why You were down voted. Not that voting really matters. People don't have to agree with everything here.

skippy

SSRIs again.

Plain and simple.

Love or fear? Chose again with every breath.

hmmm...

Why would such guilt result in further killing of human beings?
I could see the guilt leading to suicide - but taking even more life?

What is happening to soldiers is a crime in and of itself. Similar thing happened with Vietnam soldiers and, of course, no lessons were learned.

I remember when Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq - MANY said it would be another Vietnam. They were wrong - it's much worse.

The law cannot make a wicked person virtuous…God’s grace alone can accomplish such a thing.
Ron Paul - The Revolution

Setting a good example is a far better way to spread ideals than through force of arms. Ron Paul

the vast

majority, 22 a day according to recent reports, kill only them selves by suicide.
Sadly, every once in a while, some decide to take some along with them or just kill others.
Hornberger is exactly right. Guilt is a hugely powerful emotion, that for some, even redemption can not save.
There is a book that just came out about Vietnam titled Kill Everything That Moves.
http://www.amazon.com/Kill-Anything-That-Moves-American/dp/0...
It may explain why so many vets from that era suffered "combat stress".

Dr. Mike Vasovski
South Carolina Campaign Chairman, Ron Paul 2012
The SINGLE vote in the SC delegation for RP, GOP Convention, Tampa, FL
2010 Candidate, US Congress SC-03
Past Chairman, Aiken, SC County Tea Party

ytc's picture

Jacob H of FFF: crystal clear writer on legal, moral & cultural

affairs.

The tragedy arises when conscientious normal persons of good will are forced to follow the orders of sociopathic serial killers, the imperial tyrants.

The stark realization that "Every single soldier who killed an Iraqi or who even participated in the enterprise was guilty of murder in a moral, religious, and spiritual sense" will gnaw on the soldier's soul, mind & body.

"Unlike combat stress, . . . guilt require[s] confession, repentance, and forgiveness"

So guilt of killing people

So guilt of killing people makes you kill more people? Makes total sense to me.

Please come join my forum if you're not a trendy and agree with my points of view.

No it

doesn't make sense but then the mind that has been tortured by guilt is capable or God knows what. The vast majority will kill only themselves by suicide to the tune of 22 a day.

Dr. Mike Vasovski
South Carolina Campaign Chairman, Ron Paul 2012
The SINGLE vote in the SC delegation for RP, GOP Convention, Tampa, FL
2010 Candidate, US Congress SC-03
Past Chairman, Aiken, SC County Tea Party

More complex than that

Guilt leads to the negative feelings. But you are told it is not guilt. In fact, your actions are celebrated. So not only do you not quite know what you are feeling, your psychology is thrown off by not feeling in alignment with what you are told you "ought" to be feeling. You are a hero, right? Why should you feel like shit? So this whole nonsensical storm is raging in the head, heart and soul. What comes out of this is not rational or sensible. It is a bevy of major issues. Sadly, often additional killing is included (often suicide).

_________________________________

Freedom - Peace - Prosperity

Sad indeed

that political debates aren't discussed in terms of conscience

I sincerily hope that many of you here

help me in spreading this article around be it through social media, or more importantly, through the comments sections in the various articles regarding the shooting of Chris, as well as Ron's comments.

Let's see if we can help change & awaken some minds.

It is known

The truth often hurts. But it will set you free.

_________________________________

Freedom - Peace - Prosperity

the truth.

.

I use Blue Wave, but don't expect one of THEIR silly taglines.

Most excellent article!

Thx.