When I first heard about the killing of 16 Afghans, including nine children, by a 10-year Army veteran, my heart dropped. I was shaken by the thought that a member of our military force could perform such a heinous act of terrorism. How could this be when his duty is to keep peace? But then I heard more of his story…

…Robert Bales is a 38-year-old highly decorated staff sergeant in the American Army and also a devoted husband and father. He had been wounded several times on multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Two days before the shooting, a friend of  his, another soldier, had his leg blown off  by a roadside bomb. He didn’t witness the explosion but saw the aftermath. Other troubles weighing on this man’s mind were a Florida investment job that went sour, his Seattle-area home was condemned as he struggled to make payments on another, and he failed to get a recent promotion. Everyone has problems, I know, but this is what really got me:  This was his fourth deployment…this man was deployed four times. Fourth Tour. When is enough, enough?!  How much can one person take?  What kind of pressure is the government putting on our military forces that they’re pushed to the brink of destruction through sheer physical, mental and emotional fatigue? I heard a news report that he wasn’t happy about the fourth deployment but accepted it as part of his duty. What is the duty the government has to these servicemen and women?

Someone I know commented that the same forces are deployed over and over again because we do not have enough manpower.  Well then, get out of Afghanistan.  Get out of  the Middle East.  Stop senselessly sending our people over there time and time again until they just can’t take it anymore. 

I am not a political person and have no idea what the circumstances or conditions are in Afghanistan. I’m not saying Sergeant Bales should not have repercussions for what he did ~ if, in fact, he’s proven to be guilty of this crime which hasn’t been decided yet. I understand that there is a price to be paid, and if proven guilty, he’ll be paying the price for the rest of his life as will his family. Everyone’s life in this man’s circle of  family and friends has been drastically changed. A family man serving his country is now barricaded in a military prison and will stand trial, and his family is sequestered for their own safety in a military compound. What a difference a day makes…

I’m not pretending to be a psychiatrist who can analyze what triggered this tragedy of 16 lives that were senselessly taken. What I am saying is that I think for Sergeant Bales enough was enough. And I also think that those who decided he should do a fourth tour should also be held accountable, and they should use this incident as a barometer for their future recommendations.

About susezit

~ Expressing random thoughts and issues is my thing. ~ I’m complicated. ~ I understand quirky. ~ I'm a work in progress. ~ I've discovered I'm pretty strong. ~ I'm trying to become the me I've always wanted to be. (Essays are original works of the author. All rights reserved.)

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