I recently read an article on MSNBC.com regarding the rise in military suicides. I have attached the web version (link) below for everyone to review. Some sobering statistics.
The figures - as a segment of our national population - are not staggering (an often overly used DC term) however they do show a marked increases over the past several years specifically with our returning combat veterans. At least 125 soldiers were confirmed to have taken their own life in 2008, compared with 115 in 2007, 102 in 2006 and 87 in 2005. This figures show a definitive increase even though the services are rapidly moving to address the matter.
Army BG Sutton who is the director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury states that these men (and women) "have been exposed to the most corrosive environment known to warfare and that they have lost fellow soldiers and friends."
Now I don't know about you but BG Sutton's comments do not strike a very solid chord with me. We all understand that what they are seeing in war is not what you see in the video games however lets get past that and focus on the "what to do when soldiers return from combat duty" and how best to help them adapt.
I never made the rank of General nor did I play one on TV however a rational person looking at this would say that since these deaths are all occurring once soldiers redeploy shouldn't we concentrate our collective efforts at that point versus worrying about the prosecution of the war?
Too many times, and in this case too many dollars are being spent incorrectly. Assisting troops as they go through the decompression stage of returning home as well as providing outlets so that these losses decrease should be the core focus of BG Sutton, the DoD and the Veterans Administration rather then discussing what they do in combat. We get that! What we don't get is how we can afford to let this increase over the past several years continue to...well...increase without putting in check what we have supposedly accomplished to date.
No doubt this will be high on the list of the new incoming VA Secretary, GEN (Ret) Shinseki as he prepares for confirmation hearings. Although it is a very somber topic I am anxious to hear how this old soldier plans to fight this campaign