Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why Are Record Numbers of US Soldiers Committing Suicide?

From Democracy Now:

EMMA PROPHET: There was a revealing article here, that I think actually got off of National Public Radio, that the first two months to three months of this year, there were more people that are active duty that committed suicide than there were killed in action. And that’s the first time that that’s ever happened. And it’s happening when they’re overseas, and it’s happening when they come home.

And it is an issue that has been pervasive with all wars. The effects of the trauma that they go through mentally is very profound, and there really isn’t anything set up that is pervasive enough to allow them to recover, that you may go see a counselor if you want to, but there’s no real program.


AMY GOODMAN: Do you think the military is dealing with this adequately, overall?

EMMA PROPHET: I’m not really seeing them dealing with it adequately. You have to be proactive. You can’t wait for the guy to go in, because he’s going to be afraid of looking weak. And the whole military—it doesn’t matter what branch you’re in—is to suck it up and go do what you’ve got to do. And that does not go well with dealing with psychological trauma.

Click here to read, watch, or listen to the rest.

Okay, so I disagree with their current mission. But this is bullshit. I mean, it's all bullshit: we've ordered them into psychotic situations for psychotic reasons, so it's no wonder that they're having to deal with psychosis as a result. And the biggest civilian cheerleaders for these anti-Muslim wars have also used the phrase "support the troops" in the loudest and most in-your-face way. "Support the troops" my ass. What they actually mean is "support the wars."

And when our young men and women come home permanently scarred, well, that's just testament to the fact that war is hell. I guess.

Like I said, I am deeply opposed to our dual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we owe these people everything. It's not their fault that the civilian leadership has repeatedly abused them. For love of country, they've sacrificed life and limb, and psychological stability. It is an utter disgrace that this rash of suicides continues unabated. Getting an effective treatment program together isn't particularly difficult; it's simply a matter of people in the White House or Congress getting their shit together and issuing some good policy. Military attitudes about psychological intervention, however, are more difficult. But this is a cultural issue, and like I keep asserting in my Quis Custodiet posts about the police, organizational cultures can and do change all the time--it's really only a matter of getting the top brass on board and pushing it hard; ultimately, it's a command issue.

But right now, nothing appears to be happening on either front. What the fuck is up with that?