Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Drive by observation

I'm at a meeting of grantees of a federal initiative called the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. This program, administered by the Center for Mental Health Services, aims at strengthening capacity within the U.S. to provide treatment to children who have suffered psychological trauma -- and no, it's not principally about drugs, but about evidence based counseling.

So far so good -- there's a lot of child abuse and neglect, child witnesses to violence, natural disasters, you name it, and kids get hurt. Oh yeah, there's also war. In the latest reauthorization, Congress directed some of the resources of the initiative to military families, but apart from that, I was really struck in my first day here by how many of the agencies just happen to have encountered a lot of children in military families that need their help. Obviously, it's tough on a child when Daddy disappears for a year and then comes home with half his face blown off, or dead, or just sullen and withdrawn and prone to explosive outbursts or drunk all the time. But short of such dramatic problems, the long separations, constant relocations, and anxiety, are very tough on families.

Military families have a lot of divorce, suicide, domestic violence. Let me tell you something, in case you didn't know. There is absolutely nothing, nothing at all, that is ennobling, or glamourous, or glorious, about war. War is ugly, and depraved, and destructive, for everybody it touches, victor or vanquished, liberator or occupier, aggressor or defender, right wrong or undecidable. War is evil. Warmakers are evildoers. Have no part of war.

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