Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Veterans Commit Suicide From a Good Conscience

Veterans Commit Suicide From a Good Conscience

How can a veteran of war in Afghanistan help us understand good conscience?
Dr. Hakim interviews Nao Rozi

Below are excerpts of an interview of Nao Rozi, an Afghan National Army veteran, and now a member of the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

Excerpts of Video Transcript

Nao Rozi: I was an Afghan soldier for 2 years and had combat roles.

Hakim: What did you learn from your experience?

Nao Rozi: If I think about the root issues, philosophy since the time of Plato has tried to bring the minds of the public under government control. Sometimes, I thought that soldiers and wars were necessary but when I joined the military as a soldier, I saw the injuring and killing of soldiers and opponents like the Taliban. I thought, “Is my presence necessary? Is it correct to have a weapon?” I held a weapon before people I didn't know and who didn’t know me... We weren’t enemies because we didn’t even know one another. Even before greetings, we were supposed to kill one another.

I concluded that I should leave the army and after that, I had a crisis.

I had almost changed 180 degrees. I was affected by the war.

I tried committing suicide a few times. I felt alone.

Hakim: Some people who hear your story may think your mind was weak; you wanted to commit suicide…

Nao Rozi: Veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly…they are victims of the war.

Life becomes meaningless. It becomes difficult. You think you’ve done something such that you feel you no longer have the right to live.

Those US veterans who committed suicide had a conscience.

Hakim: What message do you have for friends and for the world?

Nao Rozi: Teacher, how I wish that every human in the world would…just for once, sit down alone and ask, “What are we here for?”

How have we been deceived? How true to self have we been?

I was brought up under the ‘government system’ and things I heard from society and the media. I was captive to these. Now, I am free!

Afternote by Dr. Hakim

I believe the medical community has made a mistake in considering war-related post-traumatic stress a disorder.

War related post-traumatic stress is a natural order, not a disorder.

I speak as a general medical practitioner, not as a psychiatrist. But more importantly, I speak as a human being whose thinking about war trauma transformed in the few minutes that I was interviewing Faiz Ahmad a few years ago, and then recently in interviewing Nao Rozi, an Afghan National Army veteran.

Anyone who witnesses gruesome violence and death would feel nauseous and repulsed, and these reactions are a natural order of human preservation, not a disorder.

War-related post-traumatic stress prompts us to avoid the blood and gore of mutual killing. Collecting and hearing all the stories of war veterans should prompt us to seriously abolish wars. Albert Einstein had said, “War cannot be humanized, only abolished. War is a terrible thing, and must be abolished at all costs. “

Nao Rozi had painted for me a morbid scene that poets and writers have consistently described in different ways over the centuries, “There were so many dead young bodies, and all of them were strangers to me. I thought, ‘Why did we do this to one another? Who benefited from these deaths? Weren’t their mothers waiting for them at home?’ ”

These questions changed the course of his life.

While making sense out of what he had experienced, he had tried to kill himself a few times.

Today, there is an on-going suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers and veterans.

A portion of the Guardian article which touched on this suicide epidemic among U.S. soldiers is worth reproducing here.

Libby Busbee is pretty sure that her son William never sat through or read Shakespeare's Macbeth, even though he behaved as though he had. Soon after he got back from his final tour of Afghanistan, he began rubbing his hands over and over and constantly rinsing them under the tap. "Mom, it won't wash off," he said.

"What are you talking about?" she replied.

“The blood. It won't come off."

On 20 March 2012, the soldier's striving for self-cleanliness came to a sudden end. That night he locked himself in his car and, with his mother and two sisters screaming just a few feet away and with Swat officers encircling the vehicle, he shot himself in the head.

At the age of 23, William Busbee had joined a gruesome statistic. In 2012, for the first time in at least a generation, the number of active-duty soldiers who killed themselves, 177, exceeded the 176 who were killed while in the war zone.

Tomas Young, an Iraq veteran who has decided to end his life, wrote a letter to Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney stating "My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness."

In the words of Erica Modugno, author of a pledge some veterans are making to dying Tomas Young:

“We see you. We hear you. We will not remain passive. We will not be silent.

Farewell, Tomas, and thank you.”

I’m sad that some of us may still conclude that Nao Rozi, William Busbee and Tomas Young were ‘wimpy soldiers’, not brave enough to unflinchingly continue doing their jobs.

Rather, their post-traumatic stress was a natural order seeking to preserve their good conscience, a kind order that can help us find a better world.

*************

Dr. Teck Young Wee, a Singaporean medical doctor, has been involved in health and development work in Afghanistan since 2004. The name he uses, Hakim, was given to him by Afghans he served in refugee camps. In the Dari language, "Hakim" means "local healer.” He now lives and works in Kabul establishing small social enterprise and is a friend-mentor of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. (ourjourneytosmile.com)

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Suzan Mazur: Stuart Newman: The Virosphere And Non-Linear Evolution

It was Stuart Newman who was the first of the Altenberg 16 scientists I discussed developments with following the Extended Synthesis symposium in 2008 at Konrad Lorenz Institute, a meeting I was barred from attending for having gotten out in front of ... More>>

Werewolf: Artificial Intelligence: Real Anxieties?

The movie Ex Machina feels so current there are powerful moments of recognition – despite the seemingly unlikely scenario of a walking, talking artificial intelligence (AI). Right now Google is enlisting its massive databases, drawing on the contents of every email and Internet search ever made, in the service of what has been called ‘the Manhattan Project of AI’. More>>

ALSO:

Open Source, Open Society: More Than Just Transparency

Bill Bennett: “Share and share alike” is the message parents drum into children. But once they grow up and move out into the wider world, the shutters start to come down. We’re trained to be closed. Dave Lane, president of the New Zealand Open Source Society, says that explains the discomfort people find when they first encounter the open world. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Journalism, History And Forgetting

Compare that [the saturation coverage of WWI] not just with the thinly reported anniversaries last year of key battles in the New Zealand Wars, but with the coverage of the very consequential present-day efforts to remedy the damage those wars wrought, and the picture is pretty dismal. More>>

ALSO:

Werewolf: Climate Of Fear

New Zealand, promoting itself as an efficient producer, has been operating as a factory farm for overseas markets with increasing intensity ever since the introduction of refrigerated shipping in 1882. The costs to native forests and to bio-diversity have been outlandish. The discussion of impacts has been minimal... More>>

ALSO:

Greek Riddles: Gordon Campbell On The Recent Smackdown Over Greece

There had been a fortnight of fevered buildup. Yet here we are in the aftermath of the February 28 showdown between the new Syriza government in Greece and the European Union “troika” and… no-one seems entirely sure what happened. Did the asteroid miss Earth? More>>

ALSO:

Keith Rankin: Contribution Through Innovation

The economic contribution of businesses and people is often quite unrelated to their taxable incomes. EHome, as a relatively new company, may have never earned any taxable income. Its successors almost certainly will earn income and pay tax. Yet it was eHome itself who made the biggest contribution by starting the venture in the first place. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news