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Friday, October 5, 2012

  • On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Soldier Suicides and Violence

    Soldiers

    On the 11th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, we take a look at the invisible wounds of war here at home. Since the war began on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11th attacks, at least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died. Some 2.4 million U.S. soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the psychological toll of the wars is mounting. Last year, the Veterans Administration treated almost 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and soldier suicides reached an all-time high this year. In Colorado Springs, the commanders at Fort Carson have come under scrutiny for its handling of mental health concerns, with a 2010 joint NPR-ProPublica investigation finding that as many as 40 percent of Fort Carson soldiers had mild brain injuries missed by Army health screenings. Meanwhile, in 2009 the Colorado Springs Gazette published a startling series called "Casualties of War," written by our guest, investigative reporter Dave Philipps. His book, "Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home," shows how a wave of violence swept across Colorado Springs when the 506th Infantry Regiment, known as "the Band of Brothers," returned home from their first tour in Iraq. We are also joined by Georg-Andreas Pogany, a retired Army sergeant who is now an independent veterans’ advocate and investigator, and Graham Clumpner, an Afghanistan War veteran and Colorado regional organizer for Iraq Veterans Against the War. Democracy Now! is on the road, broadcasting from Colorado Springs, the home of five major military installations: Fort Carson, Peterson Air Force Base, the U.S. Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Station. [includes rush transcript]