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Pentagon Denies Increase in Troops' Suicides a Result of War

[Editor's Note: This article was written by the wife of Vietnam vet who killed himself after returning from Vietnam. The young men who are committing suicide after returning from Iraq are doing so because their conscience will not allow them to live with themselves carrying the burden of their conduct and the horrific barbarity they observed and/or participated in. All forms of warfare, even so-called "just" wars like World War 2, are destructive to the mind, body, and spirit of those involved. An unjust war, a war of invasion and unjustified brutality inflicted on innocent people, is far more damaging to the heart and mind of American soldiers because Americans have been conditioned since childhood to believe that we're the "good guys" of the  world. and 'good guys' don't behave like Nazis. But that's exactly how American combat troops are being trained today-like Nazis: brutal, inhumane, unthinking, and uncaring. Just "kill 'em all and let God sort it out" type of psychopathic bravado has been instilled in far too many American service men who acquiesce to that Pentagon inspired barbarity, rather than challenge it and refuse to comply - as former 12 year Marine Master-Sergeant Jimmy Massey finally realized was necessary (by the way, the "American" military is rapidly transforming into the South American, Central American, Mexican, and Phillipino 'American' military. When foreigners outweigh American citizens in its military, it's no longer "our' military, it's the NWO's military).

I recall a segment from an Iraq war expose video, The Ground Truth, in which an Army truck driver said that he felt bad about running over a 7 or 8 year child with his truck, but the "Army told us to do it. They said not to stop, or go around anyone, just run 'em over, so that's what I did. The Army said it was OK." The Army gave him permission to murder a small child, so it's "OK" he figured. How many of us could go to sleep at night and dream peacefully if we had intentionally run over a small child and squashed it like a bug? How about if we squashed 30 or 40 Iraqi "bugs" during our tour? Could we ever have a moment of rest or peace? Oh sure, the Nazis among us have no problem falling asleep, but how about the rest of us?

America has been infiltrated with German Nazis both during and following World War 2. A few years ago, I was under the impression that roughly 5,000 Nazis were slipped into America under Operation Paper Clip, but now, with the revelations of Otto Skorzeny, we find out that the number was closer to 50,000, that's FIFTY THOUSAND.  Skorzeny said that George Bush Sr. is a German born Nazi infiltrator who was covertly adopted by Prescott Bush and set up with a false birth history and false documentation to carry out the corruption of America and help turn her into a Nazi style fascist state. The liquidation of  the Land of Liberty seems well on its way. Don Nicoloff has discovered so many holes and fabrications in the official Bush genealogy record, that it appears more than likely that Skorzeny was telling the truth about Bush as infiltrator and his Hitler-assigned mission to destroy the world's greatest beacon of freedom. . .

Only ordinary Americans who can still think, only ordinary Americans with a heart and a conscience and a sense of morality, and only ordinary Americans with the courage and conviction to ACT upon their conscience will save this Republic-if she is to be saved. The government hierarchy and upper military are top heavy with New World Order traitors, fifth columnists, infiltrators, and mercenaries. They will not save you-indeed, they are the ones who are betraying you into a fascist, one world society. There's only YOU Mr. and Mrs. America and no one else. Are you up to the job or will you while away the remaining time with baseball games, smack down wrestling, and NAFCAR races while millions of innocent people suffer and die in lands far away?...Ken]

By Penny Coleman, AlterNet
http://educate-yourself.org/cn/pentagondeniessoldiersuicides28aug07.shtml
August 28, 2007

http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/60851/

The military says that there's no connection between the stress of combat and spiraling suicide rates. But the widow of a vet who took his own life knows differently.


As the widow of a Vietnam vet who killed himself after coming home, I find every new report about suicides among this generation of soldiers particularly painful. So I was surprised the other day to find myself laughing out loud reading about how poor Elspeth Ritchie, a psychiatric consultant to the Army Surgeon General's office, got stuck with the awful job of announcing, with a perfectly straight face and no irony whatsoever, that, although the suicide rate among soldiers has reached a 26-year record high, Pentagon studies still haven't found a connection between soldier suicides and the war.

They looked. What's a Pentagon to do?

And I think it was rather too kind of the media not to call attention to the fact that, as this year's designated goat, poor Elspeth had to stand up on her hind legs and try to sound sincere while once again parroting the official line that these poor dead kids are to blame for their own deaths. Year after year, they let their "personal relationships" get all messed up; they let their "legal and financial problems" get out of control; and they let "work stress" get them down. (Hmm…work stress…?)

The United States invaded Iraq in March of 2003 and by August, so many American soldiers had killed themselves that a mental health advisory team was sent to investigate. Their report, MHAT I (yes, more coming), confirmed a suicide rate three times greater than the statistical norm for the armed forces. It also acknowledged that a third of the psychiatric casualties being evacuated "departed theater with suicide-related behaviors as part of their clinical presentation." Red flag? Nope.

The team's conclusion was that soldiers were killing themselves for the same reasons that soldiers "typically" kill themselves: marital, legal, financial problems, what they referred to as "underdeveloped life coping skills." There was a supplement to the report that was intended to assess the general health and well-being of soldiers. The supplement listed things that soldiers most often identified as combat "stressors," and, well, those were about what you might expect. They mentioned "seeing dead bodies or human remains, being attacked or ambushed, and knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed." Somehow none of these "stressors" made it into the team's final opinion as to why these kids were killing themselves.

So now every year they send another team of experts to Iraq, and every year they file another report (MHAT I, II, III, IV and counting), and every year some poor spokesgoat has to stand up and tell a bunch of grownups that it's these kids and their personal problems, not the war, that motivates these young people with their whole lives ahead of them to end it.

Well, every year except for 2004, when the rate dropped a lot, and everyone started crowing about how all the new suicide prevention measures were working, and they looked real good until the numbers for 2005 came in, and someone noticed that in 2004 they had used a different definition of a suicide. Tricky. That year they only counted the deaths involving guns.

Last year's goat was a Col. Joseph Curtin, who assured the gathered journalists, "We're not alarmed." He went on to say that the Army was not aware of any single reason for the rise, but he dismissed the notion that the increase was somehow tied to combat exposure. Instead, he blamed (are you ready?) financial difficulties, failed relationships.

And the journalists wrote that down.

This year it was poor Elspeth, and she did the best she could with what she had: "What we have found is not a direct relationship so far between deployment, combat and suicide. The primary reasons for suicides, when we examine the completed suicide, is failed intimate relationships, failed marriages."

Last year, when asked if anything was being done to stop this less than alarming trend, the Army's Surgeon General, Dr. (Lt. Gen.) Kevin Kiley let his annoyance show: "(W)e've had young soldiers who will get bad relationship news and walk right into a Porta-Potty and end their lives, and no one has an opportunity to intervene." Damn!

This year, Ritchie was every bit as sensitive: "Unfortunately, suicide is very often a compulsive act. Very often a young soldier gets a 'Dear John' or 'Dear Jane' e-mail and then takes his weapon and shoots himself…It just takes a second to pull it out and put it to your head and pull the trigger." Double damn!

But Ritchie did manage to inject a new note of optimism: "That's part of the reason why such Army programs as 'Strong Bonds' are intended to reinforce and strengthen marriages and other intimate relationships." Strong Bonds offers soldiers a weekend retreat with an army chaplain. "As a couple, you'll practice communication and relationship-building skills, as well as share intimate moments." Quick fix. Impressive. I'm wondering whether Strong Bonds trumps stop-loss.

So now the Army says they're initiating an extensive new program to teach soldiers how to recognize mental health problems in themselves and others, but it's an uphill battle. "For PTSD and acute stress disorder," Ritchie acknowledges, "we think, and we're pretty sure about this, that soldiers are worried about being perceived as weak and don't want to have people in their unit find out." Pesky career-minded soldiers.

Ritchie's "pretty sure" soldiers are worried about stigma? Maybe she didn't hear about U.S. District Court Judge James Ware's ruling in favor of Robert Zabala's suit for conscientious objector status, which noted that when a fellow recruit committed suicide on the shooting range, Zabala's commanding officer, a Capt. Sanchez, made his feeling very clear: "F*** him, f*** his parents for raising him, and f*** the girl who dumped him."

Finally, a bit of clarity. I've been struggling with questions of guilt ever since Daniel died. I always knew it was my fault.

And I think it was rather too kind of the media not to call attention to the fact that, as this year's designated goat, poor Elspeth had to stand up on her hind legs and try to sound sincere while once again parroting the official line that these poor dead kids are to blame for their own deaths. Year after year, they let their "personal relationships" get all messed up; they let their "legal and financial problems" get out of control; and they let "work stress" get them down. (Hmm…work stress…?)

The United States invaded Iraq in March of 2003 and by August, so many American soldiers had killed themselves that a mental health advisory team was sent to investigate. Their report, MHAT I (yes, more coming), confirmed a suicide rate three times greater than the statistical norm for the armed forces. It also acknowledged that a third of the psychiatric casualties being evacuated "departed theater with suicide-related behaviors as part of their clinical presentation." Red flag? Nope. The team's conclusion was that soldiers were killing themselves for the same reasons that soldiers "typically" kill themselves: marital, legal, financial problems, what they referred to as "underdeveloped life coping skills." There was a supplement to the report that was intended to assess the general health and well-being of soldiers. The supplement listed things that soldiers most often identified as combat "stressors," and, well, those were about what you might expect. They mentioned "seeing dead bodies or human remains, being attacked or ambushed, and knowing someone who was seriously injured or killed." Somehow none of these "stressors" made it into the team's final opinion as to why these kids were killing themselves.

So now every year they send another team of experts to Iraq, and every year they file another report (MHAT I, II, III, IV and counting), and every year some poor spokesgoat has to stand up and tell a bunch of grownups that it's these kids and their personal problems, not the war, that motivates these young people with their whole lives ahead of them to end it.

Well, every year except for 2004, when the rate dropped a lot, and everyone started crowing about how all the new suicide prevention measures were working, and they looked real good until the numbers for 2005 came in, and someone noticed that in 2004 they had used a different definition of a suicide. Tricky. That year they only counted the deaths involving guns.

Penny Coleman


Penny Coleman is the widow of a Vietnam Veteran who took his own life after coming home. Her latest book, Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide and the Lessons of War, was released on Memorial Day, 2006. Her blog is Flashback.

Comments

denial is only logical
Posted by: unity1 on Aug 28, 2007 3:56 AM
Current rating: Not yet rated [1 = poor; 5 = excellent]

It's logical that the pentagon would deny any link between suicides and war - it's logical because the people that populate and make up the pentagon - the war machine - have to put a huge part of themselves away in order to justify the things it does in the name of freedom, liberty and justice - denying any solider would kill themselves because of their experience in war is part of that justifications that war is just and honorable; not horror personified, nor body mind and soul destroying - they have throughout the decades denied everything from Gulf War syndrome to Agent Orange and today's equivalent DU, Depleted Uranium

- hell they think nuclear bombs are safe enough to minaturize and use in the battle field - the pentagon is an insane psychopath and denying everything is keeping it going - we of course never question it out loud - it's simply not done

[« Reply to this comment] [Post a new comment »] [Rate this comment: 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5]
» RE: denial is only logical Posted by: VannaLaRoche




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