This is a transcript of John Judge speaking at a one-day conference, A Better Welcome Home: Transformative Models to Support Veterans and Their Families, on November 2, 2011 focusing on nonpathologizing ways to help veterans.



My father and his brothers were veterans of World War Two and my family worked as civilians for decades at the Pentagon. I was, and still am, a conscientious objector to war.

In 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War I was a draft counselor talking to young men about their rights under the Selective Service Law. About a year earlier I started to see AWOL soldiers so I had to learn military law and regulations and work with them. In ’68 I started seeing the returning veterans from Vietnam and I also that year started taking them into high schools so that they could talk to young people about the realities of military law and about combat. I counseled, probably during that period, about ten thousand active duty and veteran members and I still do work in those areas. So while I opposed the war I actually support the troops. I’ve learned some things from doing that and I had a few to say today.

Modern war is different. The noncombatant casualties of World War One were about four percent. People fought across trenches in no-man’s land. By World War Two, twenty-five percent. Korea, 56%. From the Vietnam War forward the noncombatant casualties, civilian casualties, are 94 to 96 percent. In other words the situation is completely reversed.

Modern war is also ethnocide. It disrupts and destroys cultures. And it is ecocide. It toxifies and and destroys the planet. And wars don’t end. Mercury, rising from German World War Two submarines, is threatening fisheries off of Norway today. The Vietnam soil, because of Agent Orange and the bombing that was done there, eighty percent of the arable land is destroyed. The toxins of Agent Orange and Depleted Uranium continue to poison people and cause high levels of birth defects in war zones whether the war is going on or not. And unexploded munitions also continue to kill people in all modern war zones.

… Suicides are still a major problem during and after wars. There were 150,000 suicides—three times as many as the combat deaths in Vietnam—in the first six years. Afterwards they cut off the statistics. Now suicides are rising among reservists, among women, climbing in the active duty to where they’re beyond the combat death rate, and increased in one recent year by 600%. And these are suicides that are being tracked. I was told when I worked in Congress, by a mental health assessment team from the Army, three months after discharge they stop tracking. Most people don’t hit stress point til six months.