The American Public Health Association, APHA, produced a paper in June of 2014, commonly known as the Wiist report, “The role of public health in the prevention of war.” The document addresses militarism in our social fabric. “From WWII to 2001, the United States launched 201 military operations around the world, not counting Afghanistan and Iraq.” The report stresses that we take a realistic approach to militarism and its adverse effect on our national health.
Our nation’s mental health has suffered greatly since the Korean conflict, accelerated during the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, the war against terror. Perpetual war is not sustainable for the earth nor our nation's well being. Therein lies the nation's mental health problem. The decline in our nation's mental health is directly tied to our nation's militarism.
The FBI has stated they interviewed Omar Mateen on more than one occasion and determined he was not a terrorist threat. As we get a picture of who Omar Mateen, he fits the profile of a returning veteran with traumatic stress. Mateen, like many returning combat and non- combat veterans, feel the alienation upon return to American society. Sebastian Junger, writing in Vanity Fair In June 2015, “How P.T.S.D became a problem far beyond the Battlefield”: ‘the problem with traumatic stress disorder does not seem to be trauma on the battlefield, but re–entry into society.’ All efforts to provide care for veterans have to deal with the soul–wrenching isolation upon return to American social fabric and deal with trauma, moral injury, in addition to finding meaningful work.
Militarism is like a hate crime. It relies on group marginalization and stigmatization to go out and “do the dirty work for god and country.” Militarism has become like a false god. The Pentagon having an open checkbook to conjure up enemies to fight wars against is not healthy. ISIS, like terrorism, is a result of militarism gone awry.
It’s time for all American people to speak up for peace and act on their moral compass. The nations’ health requires that citizens, and all helping professionals, educate the public about traumatic stress. It is not healthy to live in fear. Fear affects clear thinking and diminishes real peace and true dialogue. Most Muslims in America are more like Mohammed Ali, a true American, striving to be better human beings as are our struggling returning heroes.