U.S. troops in Afghanistan dying by suicide more often than combat

The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago…

Suicides have increased even as the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq and stepped up efforts to provide mental health, drug and alcohol, and financial counseling services.

The military said Friday that there had been 154 suicides among active-duty troops through Thursday, a rate of nearly one each day this year…That number represents an 18 percent increase over the 130 active-duty military suicides for the same period in 2011. There were 123 suicides from January to early June in 2010, and 133 during that period in 2009, the Pentagon said.

By contrast, there were 124 American military fatalities in Afghanistan as of June 1 this year, according to the Pentagon…

In a letter to military commanders last month, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that “suicide prevention is a leadership responsibility,” and added, “Commanders and supervisors cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.”

But veterans’ groups said Friday that the Pentagon had not done enough to moderate the tremendous stress under which combat troops live, including coping with multiple deployments…

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called suicides among active-duty military personnel “the tip of the iceberg.” He…attributed the rise in military suicides to too few qualified mental health professionals, aggravated by the stigma of receiving counseling and further compounded by family stresses and financial problems. The unemployment rate among military families is a particular problem, he said.

The best solution would be for our nation to walk away from “solving” every international question with death and destruction. Military hardware deployed around the world requires young men and women deployed around the world — doing the bidding of political chickenhawks and warlovers who think the best solution for any difficult question is war. Cripes, it’s not even the cheapest. For a nation that tries to resolve domestic questions with the lowest bidder – regardless of quality – you’d think stinginess alone would nudge our government to stop invading other countries every five or ten years.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a creepy opportunist like John McCain or a political intellectual like Barack Obama. Sticking with the robot response of American foreign policy for the last sixty years or so continues to escalate parallel patterns of self-destruction among our service personnel almost as rapidly as it exacerbates contempt for the United States among ordinary people in every other nation.

Alienation is still alienation. The results grow more deadly with the passage of time.

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2 comments

  1. Mark

    Mr Eideard. The suggestion of denying funding to the military industrial complex by steering clear of useless and/or fabricated wars is clearly un-American. You should be ashamed.

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