December 29, 2012

Soldier Suicides

Scanning Drudge this morning, I was greeted with a stomach-turning photoshop of Blowie dressed as Lincoln, an offensive, yet unsurprising headline announcing raises for Biden, Congress, and federal workers, a review of Tarantino's new movie, a story about who the oldest person in the world is, a picture of RGIII (while awesome, not really news), a picture of dancing dogs of some sort, and other sundry items.

Buried down near the bottom, was a headline that should have been at the top, in big red Drudge 'important news' lettering:

US Soldier Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths In 2012...
American soldier suicides continue to outnumber combat-related deaths in 2012, and the trajectory for soldier suicides continues to get worse.
Statistics released by the Department of the Army show that through November potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers committed suicide. As of Dec. 7, Stars and Stripes reports that 212 soldiers have died in combat-related deaths in Afghanistan.
Before you jump to a 'war is hell' sort of conclusion to explain away the suicide rate, consider this:
About 53 percent of those who died by suicide in the military in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, had no history of deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan, according to the Defense Department. And nearly 85 percent of military members who took their lives had no direct combat history, meaning they may have been deployed but not seen action.
Sweet Jesus, what is going on?  I was a military brat and then wife - and I have seen some struggles related to that way of living, but nearly a suicide a day?  And half of them never even having been deployed?  The roughest patches for families, in my experience, were deployments - and for all the reasons you would imagine.  Time apart, one parent trying to do everything at home while the other is deployed, financial concerns, etc., these are hard times - but many a soldier has said that these times are worse for the family, as the soldier is just doing his job. 

Why isn't anyone at the White House burning the midnight oil to get to the root issues behind our military killing themselves?  Actually, they should probably stay out of it and let some smart people figure it out.

Whoever those smart people are that can get a handle on this situation, please hurry.

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