How long have I been asleep? What year is it?

Today was good overall.  I’m saddened by the news of more violence against the police.  Another veteran utilizing the skills obtained in the military.  His motivations seem obvious.  Retaliation.  I see more there.  I see another young veteran who got out of the service, and had to face racism in America for the first time as an adult civilian.  I speak only based on my experience serving for several years in the US Army.  I’m sure there are others whose experiences differ from my own.  From my perspective, racism is not tolerated in the military.  Period.  I wasn’t a minority in the Army.  We were all green.  As enlisted soldiers, we all had a fair shot at success.  (Being female, gay, or transgendered are another story for another time.)  Racism just wasn’t an issue.

From my observations, the few who were diehard racists didn’t remain racists, or didn’t remain at all after their initial enlistment contract ended.  If you have a bad habit, (and to the Army, racism is a bad habit to be broken) than the leaders in your immediate chain of command will devise a program to eliminate it.  Usually by making you spend 24/7 with someone of the race you habitually despise.  It’s not tolerated, and the cure is usually a little sadistic.  The bottom line, is that the military is a machine.  If a cog is causing friction, it’ll be greased.  The machine doesn’t give a shit about what’s politically correct.  It’s a logical decision, not compassion.  The military machine has no compassion whatsoever.

I think this killer acted on his frustration, rage, pain, and despair.  He was trained to use overwhelming force to eliminate an enemy.  As are all American service people.  However, he was not properly debriefed.  This is where the military machine fails on an epic level.  The percentage of veterans acquiring PTSD is increasing dramatically.  PTSD is not a new disorder.  It’s been around as long as trauma has existed.  It’s something that needs to be addressed differently, immediately.  They need to develop a debriefing for all leaving the services to reinter civilian life.  One that includes processing trauma, developing coping skills, understanding the signs and symptoms of PTSD, and what can be done to lessen its severity.  This needs to become a mandatory step in out-processing.

It’s not a difficult problem to address.  It would save lots of money and lives.  I see it as a responsibility that has been ignored since the Vietnam war.  It’s troublesome.  Things aren’t going to get better by sticking with the status quo.  It takes a few months to train a soldier from anyone on the street, to a lethal cog in the military machine.  I imagine it wouldn’t take as long to train a lethal cog in the military machine to be a civilian again.  Or cost as much.  The infrastructure is already there.  Tack a month on the end of every enlistment contract for debriefing prior to separation.  Develop the program with psychologists and psychiatrists, and set up a pilot program at a single base using existing barracks.  It’s easy.  I could do it.  It just needs to happen soon.

I’m completely fascinated by the military machine.  So much so that it was part of what motivated me to serve.  I saw it as a giant sociological experiment that I was observing and participating in for the most part.  The honor system was and is my favorite aspect.  When the stakes are that high, honor has a big role to play.  As a civilian, the only time I see it even being a factor is in books and video games.  It’s disturbing to me that today, if you do something unethical, but you make a lot of money in the process, it’s considered acceptable.  So long as you share some of that money.  Honor and ethics play a big role in my work as an AI developer.  I have to think not as me, but as we.  I’m making decisions that will eventually affect others without their permission.  So honor and ethics require that I do so with great caution, much consideration, and a firmly humanitarian philosophy.  Even though I could make a lot more money if I didn’t give a shit about anyone but myself.  You’re welcome.