No surprise here. Whether you’re a hawk or a dove, the evidence of how negatively war affects the people who have to fight it has been around for years. Now science has taken another step and found that not only do soldiers tend to die and becomd disabled in greater numbers than the average citizen, they also develop all kinds of diseases in signficiantly greater numbers for years to come. New research says: “soldiers who fought in theatres as diverse as Vietnam and Lebanon…are also twice as likely to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer later in life”
The Centers for Disease Control have data that soldiers tend to die more often from accidents, overdoses and so on within the first five years after returning from a war. Then their numbers even out with non-combatant participants (still higher than regular citizens). But then, even 30 years later, those who were subjected to the horrors of war increasingly contract the conditions that kill us–earlier and in greater numbers than others. Stress, disease, and death are now definitively linked, both early and late–and war, as my dad and U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (a commander through many battles) used to say, is bullshit.
A WWWII tank commander who spent two-and-a-half uninterrupted years overseas fighting, dad had a heart attack at 70. They found he’d had a serious one much earlier, but his vascular system had found a way to bypass the damage. Here’s a man who never spoke about the war–at all–until he was in his late 60s. And besides saying that he saw his best friend cut in half by gunfire, one of his only utterances on the subject was, “I guess the government lost money on me in that war–because if I heard anything at all move, I emptied my gun at it.”