"More Army Suicides Than Combat Deaths Reported in January"
"Army suicide rate could top nation's this year"
"Army Suicides Rise Sharply-January Figures Up Six-Fold From Same Time in 2008"
"Army official: Suicides in January 'terrifying''
Not to mention the series of articles Salon.com is running this week. Read here and here. Seriously. Stop right now and go read them. Come back when you are done.
"Nobody is willing to help anybody," he said about his experience at Fort Carson after returning from Iraq. "You have to understand. We are just pieces of equipment."
If that doesn't make you ill, perhaps nothing will. Except maybe this:
Yes, a soldier left a stack of these at the sign-in desk at the Doctor's office at Fort Carson. How can anyone get help, get better, in this environment?
And here is what the Army has to say for itself:
Col. Elspeth Ritchie, the Army's top psychiatrist, ticks off a series of initiatives to improve Army mental healthcare, including the hiring of 250 new mental health providers through civilian contracts and more than 40 marriage and family therapists since the spring of 2007. Ritchie said an August 2007 Army directive ensures PTSD screenings for soldiers with disciplinary problems so serious the Army wants them out. She added that the Army surgeon general issued a memo in May 2008 requiring additional review of any diagnoses short of PTSD to make sure the Army gets it right. "We've really tried to enhance our access to care," she said in a telephone interview.
All well and good, but 250 mental health providers extra? 40 marriage counselors extra? For how many troops? How many families? As of 2007 there were 538,128 men and women serving active duty.
When will this epidemic stop? What will it take for the attitudes and environments to change? When will we stop treating these brave men and women like equipment and realize that these experiences, these wars, these emotional and physical tolls they pay are breaking them?
I will be writing more on this later... but I wanted to give it the attention is deserves.