Time to rethink war

Posted by J.D. On Thursday, October 20, 2011 0 comments
For two years running, the United States military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that is not all. It actually gets worse. 2010 was the sixth consecutive year the Army’s suicide rate increased. Apparently, war isn't good for a person's psychological state.

Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.

If that number seems scary, it isn't even the full picture. There could be many more to add to that number.

But the Air Force and Marine Corps do not include any non-mobilized reservists in their posted numbers. What’s more, none of the services count suicides that occur among a class of reservists known as the Individual Ready Reserve, the more than 123,000 people who are not assigned to particular units.

Suicides by veterans who have left the service entirely after serving in Iraq and Afghanistan also are not counted by the Defense Department. The Department of Veterans Affairs keeps track of such suicides only if the person was enrolled in the VA health care system — which three-quarters of veterans are not.

But even if such veterans and members of the Individual Ready Reserve are excluded from the suicide statistics, just taking into account the deaths of reservists who were not included in last week’s figures pushes the number of suicides last year to at least 468.

That total includes some Air Force and Marine Corps reservists who took their own lives while not on active duty, and it exceeds the 462 military personnel killed in battle.

This has been a problem for some time. In 2009, I wrote of increasing suicides. Later, in January of 2010, it was reported that we had hit our highest number of military suicides since they started tracking them.

By late November, at least 334 members of the armed forces had committed suicide in 2009, more than the 319 who were killed in Afghanistan or the 150 who died in Iraq. While a final figure is not available, the toll of military suicides last year was the worst since records began to be kept in 1980.

This past September, the military released numbers which showed the following:

Defense Department statistics indicate that since January, 2001, 2,293 active-duty service members have taken their own lives, including the ones who never deployed overseas. By comparison, 6,139 service members have died in Afghanistan and Iraq in the same period.

Back in 2004, MSNBC reported that 1 in 8 returning soldiers suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The Army’s first study of the mental health of troops who fought in Iraq found that about one in eight reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

The survey also showed that less than half of those with problems sought help, mostly out of fear of being stigmatized or hurting their careers.

Back in 2009, I found the following sad cry for help. This is an example of how some of these soldiers are treated upon their return. It is from a website called FMYLIFE where people anonymously write in with bad things that have happened to them.

Yep. The guy's own mother called him "a whiny bitch" because he is still dealing with the things he saw and did in Iraq. War does horrible things to a person. Currently, the system is stretched and can't even accommodate all the returning veterans that need help.

In a more personal vein, I have a neighbor who suffers from PTSD. He has told me that the military just doesn't do much to help returning veterans and they are largely forced to fend for themselves and seek help. As noted above, many don't because they still fear being stigmatized. My neighbor told me about a subgroup of people suffer from PTSD who basically become professional warriors. They continually reenlist or join private security firms like Xe Services (better known by their old name "Blackwater") because they just can't cope in a world without war.

The War Resisters League has a pie chart showing how much of Federal income tax goes to the military machine and funding perpetual warfare. $1,372 billion. Yep. Billion with a B.

It costs too much. It is destroying people's lives. Enough. No more war.

If it's natural to kill, why do men have to go into training to learn to do it? - Joan Baez


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