An update on the 'Marlboro Marine'
November 12, 2007 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Photo-Essay on the Marlboro Marine and PTSD. An update on this story: 1, 2.
posted by salvia (35 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I'm at a loss for words, but want to thank you for sharing this. Didn't even know about the story 'til tonight.
posted by hobbes at 2:35 AM on November 12, 2007

There's nothing I can add to this, except: It's been a long time since something made me well up and cry. Blake's story is a sad one and his wounds are deep. My heart goes out to him and to all the people affected by war, some wounds of which are seen, and some of which are unseen but no less painful.
posted by SteelyDuran at 3:20 AM on November 12, 2007

My dad suffered with this after WWII--of course at that time no one heard of PTSD. I remember him screaming everynight in his sleep. Thanks for the post.
posted by wafaa at 4:02 AM on November 12, 2007

posted by krautland at 4:46 AM on November 12, 2007

posted by chunking express at 5:31 AM on November 12, 2007

A consequence of the stupidity of the man...WAR
posted by drift85 at 5:47 AM on November 12, 2007

I watched this with the sound off and while the photos were nice it was basically a bunch of pictures from Iraq, then a dude playing guitar, same dude getting married, this modern marlboro man riding his motorbike etc...

Oh, and then I watched the second part. Then it got depressing even with the sound off
posted by uandt at 6:12 AM on November 12, 2007

wow. what a kick in the gut. i watch this and i wonder how many people go through the same struggles and depressions without the 'benefit' of war, and shudder to think how many more are driven to that brink by being a part of something so heinous. he talks about wanting and needing to come home, and i think about the thousands--hundreds of thousands--of iraqis who must desperately also want to go home, but are left without a home, a hometown, a country.

the epilogue is disingenuous. this story is so far from over. so painfully and desperately far from over. for all of us. how many times does this scenario have to be played out before we learn?
posted by msconduct at 6:27 AM on November 12, 2007

oh, and wafaa ... i can't even begin to imagine. can't. even. begin.
posted by msconduct at 6:30 AM on November 12, 2007

Does anyone know which Senator he tried to see?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:37 AM on November 12, 2007

There may be something about the Iraq war that is messing up soldiers' heads worse than previous wars.

“We’re beginning to see, across the country, the first trickle of this generation of warriors in homeless shelters,” said Phil Landis, chairman of Veterans Village of San Diego, a residence and counseling center. “But we anticipate that it’s going to be a tsunami.”

The U.S. Army's own report has nearly 1-in-3 returning soldiers admitting suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Actually, some people noticed the shift as early as three years ago.

"We already have people from Iraq on the streets, my God," Linda Boone, executive director of the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans said [in 2004]. "I have talked to enough (shelters) to know we are getting them. It is happening and this nation is not prepared for that."
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:19 AM on November 12, 2007

Blazecock Pileon, I don't know who it was, but there is a bit more detail about the visit in general about 80% of the way down the first part of the photographer's two part writeup, which is really worth reading. It adds a lot of detail and complication to the photo-essay. (I didn't discover it until after I posted).
posted by salvia at 8:46 AM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting, this is a really striking and moving set of photoessays.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:27 AM on November 12, 2007


and very, very sad.
posted by CitizenD at 11:40 AM on November 12, 2007

posted by dhartung at 2:56 PM on November 12, 2007

Looks like the same guy has been fighting wars for over 60 years now:Time to take a break.
posted by cenoxo at 3:42 PM on November 12, 2007

PTSD used to be the Global Warming of 1980's.

Remember? The Mouth breathers on the right denied the existence of PTSD until it became something you put on a campaign commercial.
posted by tkchrist at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2007

I also want to know which senator he tried to see.
posted by wafaa at 4:37 PM on November 12, 2007

And Bush couldn't even be bothered to lay the wreath at Arlington like he's supposed to--appalling. He made it a 5-day weekend in Texas.
posted by amberglow at 5:06 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Well, the two Kentucky State Senators are Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning.
posted by toddbass10 at 5:28 PM on November 12, 2007

And Bush couldn't even be bothered to lay the wreath at Arlington like he's supposed to--appalling. He made it a 5-day weekend in Texas.

posted by wafaa at 5:46 PM on November 12, 2007

Was it definitely a Senator? The voiceover says "Congressman" and the article focuses on the House:

Instead of a honeymoon, the young couple traveled to Washington, D.C., at the invitation of the National Mental Health Assn. The group wanted to honor Miller for his courage in going public about his PTSD. Its leaders also wanted him to visit key lawmakers to share his experience.

As a boy, Miller confided, he had embraced religion, even going so far as to become an ordained minister by mail order. He knew the Bible verses, felt the passion for preaching.

That's how he found his new mission: to tell people what it was like to come home from war with a broken mind.

Three days after their wedding, I tagged along as the young couple flew to the nation's capital. Easily distracted by the offer of free drinks for an all-American hero, Miller stayed out until 3 a.m. He was hung over when he met with House members a few hours later.

Miller chatted up GOP Rep. Harold Rogers, the congressman from his district. He smoked and frequently cursed while recounting his combat experiences. I cringed but stayed on the sidelines, snapping photos.

Miller shuffled from one congressional office to the next, passing displays filled with photos of Marines killed in Iraq. As he told his story over and again, the politicians listened politely and thanked Miller for his service. One congressman sent an aide to tell Miller he was too busy to meet. No one promised to take up his cause.

After Miller picked up his award, he took a whirlwind tour past the White House and Lincoln Memorial, but his mind was elsewhere. At a bar the night before, free booze had flowed in honor of the Marlboro Marine. Miller wanted more.

"Let's get drunk," he said.

I returned to Los Angeles the next morning, thinking I would catch up with Miller in a couple of months....

posted by salvia at 5:49 PM on November 12, 2007

Bush/Arlington... what an asshole... I can't even fathom this...

As for the PTSD... We are going to pay for this for years and years, and the price we will pay as a culture isn't even close to the price being paid by these individuals.

At a Veteran's Day event on Sunday, I ran into an old friend whose son was recently deployed to Iraq (Army). Within a week of being in country, his roommate was killed, and his best friend was critically injured, in a coma, and has been taken off life support.

PTSD... yep, you bet...

Time to get vocal people....

My thoughts to every vet, from every war.... and my apologies to those dealing with the impact of Iraq that we've not learned the damn lesson yet.
posted by HuronBob at 6:05 PM on November 12, 2007

What??? When was the last time an incumbent President declined to lay the wreath at Arlington to commemorate Veteran's Day?

As a son of a disabled US Vet, it is literally incomprehensible to me that Bush would have extended a vacation rather than observe this traditional expression of respect to our Vets and their families.
posted by darkstar at 11:00 PM on November 12, 2007

Just to balance the outrage at Bush's apparent 'holiday' - according to NPR, Bush was at a memorial service for four Texans killed in Iraq, rather than at Arlington:

President Bush has spent four of the past six Veterans Days at Arlington National Cemetery. He spent this Veterans Day — his fifth since the invasion of Iraq — in Texas, at a ceremony for four Texans who died in Iraq.

I don't doubt it would probably have been better in the eyes of most vets for him to be at Arlington, but it's far from him kicking back on the ranch with a cigar and gazing vacantly into the sunset.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:07 AM on November 13, 2007

If he was President of Texas, that would be fine. If it was a Texan holiday, that would be fine too.

He's not, and it wasn't. Don't forget that he had no problem rushing up from Texas right away when the Terri Schiavo shit was going on. This apparently wasn't worth that much effort.
posted by amberglow at 5:22 AM on November 13, 2007

Absolutely not arguing that - but it's best to get pissed off accurately I think.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:38 AM on November 13, 2007

George Carlin:
There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to it's absolute peak and maximum, can't take any more input. The nervous system has either snapped or is about to snap.

In the First World War that condition was called "shell shock." Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables. Shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was 70 years ago.

Then a whole generation went by. And the Second World War came along and the very same combat condition was called "battle fatigue." Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to be as hard to say. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock...battle fatigue.

Then we had the war in Korea in 1950. Madison Avenue was riding high by that time. And the very same combat condition was called "operational exhaustion." Hey we're up to 8 syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase now. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion: sounds like something that might happen to your car.

Then of course came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about 16 or 17 years. And thanks to the lies and deceit surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called "post-traumatic stress disorder." Still 8 syllables, but we've added a hyphen. And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder.

I bet you, if we'd still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time. I bet you that.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:58 PM on November 13, 2007

"Support the troops" = Fuck the troops.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:59 PM on November 13, 2007

'A Soldier's Officer'
posted by homunculus at 10:08 AM on December 2, 2007

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