7:24 AM

When the Troops Come Home

Writer: Stephen Long, Los Angeles

I sincerely hope the Government of Sri Lanka is looking past the destruction of the LTTE to the day when the troops finally come home. This will be a joyous time of celebration, no doubt, but it will also be a time of crisis: what are you going to do with the excess force in the military? You will reduce the size of your army, of course, but what are you going to do with the men and women who served you so valiantly and rid your country of terrorists?

This is a problem faced by all nations who find themselves in similar situations after the war is over. Julius Caesar faced it. In the last century America faced it four times, and is facing it again with the returning Iraqi war veterans. In the case of America, they botched it badly after Vietnam, and they are botching it again with Middle East returnees. Here in Los Angeles it is heartbreaking to go Downtown to the skid row area around 5th and Maple Streets and see the large numbers of homeless and drug-addicted men and women – many of whom were heroes in both Vietnam and in Iraq/Afghanistan.