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Consequences of war: One soldier's struggle with torture and PTSD in Iraq




Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division bow their heads in prayer before a deployment ceremony for another tour in Iraq August 13, 2009 at Fort Riley, Kansas. The Army requires all soldiers take suicide awareness classes. Thousands of soldiers have returned from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental difficulties.
Soldiers with the 1st Infantry Division bow their heads in prayer before a deployment ceremony for another tour in Iraq August 13, 2009 at Fort Riley, Kansas. The Army requires all soldiers take suicide awareness classes. Thousands of soldiers have returned from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental difficulties.
Chris Hondros/Getty Images

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In 2005, Lieutenant Colonel Bill Russell Edmonds traveled as a Special Forces captain with the U.S Army to Iraq as part of the United States' attempt to advise Iraqi and Kurdish officers on how to rein in the type of torture highlighted at Abu Ghraib.

It was Lt. Edmonds who was asked to monitor interrogations and ultimately draw the line banning physical torture, but allowing mental abuse to gain information.

But as his mission went on, it began to wear him down to a point that he felt powerless to stop interrogation behavior he felt was wrong. As he puts it, he was a “good person forced to make many horrible choices.”

Years later, his guilt would manifest as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates nearly one in four Americans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan have developed. Lt. Edmonds writes about the experience and his frustrations with the lack of support of veterans in his book, "God is Not Here: A Soldier's Struggle with Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War.”

Guest:

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Russell Edmonds, decorated counterterrorism and counterinsurgency expert who has served in various positions throughout the Special Operations community, and author of "God is Not Here: A Soldier's Struggle with Torture, Trauma, and the Moral Injuries of War" (Pegasus Books, 2015).