(Much of this article was originally posted in the “Arizona Republic by reporter Connie Sexton)
All too many of those who survived Bush’s wars in Iraq, didn’t survive in Afghanistan. Multiple deployments in war zones created mental problems our country had never before experienced.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta described suicides by former combat veterans as being at “epidemic” levels. His statement to Congress coincided with efforts by the military and the Department of Veterans Affairs to ramp up suicide-prevention programs.(source: Connie Sexton, Arizona republic)
Between 2000 and 2010 daily suicides by veterans of the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflict increased from a daily number of 20 to 22. Self-inflicted deaths rose from 7,300 suicides in 2000 to an estimated 8,030 in 2010, for a difference of 730.
A separate report by the Department of Defense revealed the number of suicides among active-duty troops also has risen, from 301 in 2011 to almost one a day during 2012.
Michael Rolack never heard the gunshot, only the screams of his grandson’s fiancee.
Running to the front yard of his Phoenix home, he saw the body of 28-year-old Nicholas Rolack, a Marine Corps veteran, who had just put a bullet in his head.
Thinking back on that March 7, 2012, night, Michael Rolack’s voice catches in grief.
“Just two hours before he killed himself, we had been watching a movie. I knew he was having a hard time after coming back from Iraq, but he wouldn’t talk; he wouldn’t share nothin’,” Rolack said. “His hurt must have been so big that he couldn’t get around it. Maybe he felt like he had to do it to keep from hurting us.” (Connie Sexton, the Arizona Republic)
I won’t bother to list the “acts” by congress and the effort by the VA to help returning veterans by enacting “suicide prevention” techniques, they are numerous. They are no more than a cover-up to prevent families of fallen soldiers to litigate for compensation from the United States Government for cruel and unusual punishment.
Multiple deployments have caused job loss, relationship and money problems, violence, drug use and post-traumatic stress disorder which are often catalysts for suicide.
Experiencing recurring trauma to themselves and their brothers in combat create anger, guilt, and questions as to why they survived and their brethren did not.
“A lot of them view that because they didn’t come back with an amputation, they don’t think they deserve help. There is a need to validate that their wounds are just as important. This is the place they can open up about the pain they are experiencing. They can get a sense of hope that is missing.” (Quote from Arizona Republic)
If a well-trained soldier returns from battle without experiencing severe injury, he will have a measured level of emotional instability. Witnessing death for most individuals is relegated to the movies. When our military are subjected to the horror of war on a repeated basis, the psychological implications are immeasurable.
The questions about multiple deployments came to the forefront of American policy when on March 11, 2012, a massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan occurred. The suspect, Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, 38, was on his fourth deployment when the shootings took place.
Military leaders have said the nation has never fought wars this long with this small of a military, deploying troops over and over. Yet questions remain about how many times a soldier can recycle into combat without psychological harm.
“I think it’s definitely disappointing that we don’t know. I wish we did,” says retired Navy captain William Nash, a psychiatrist studying resiliency in Marine battalions.
Scores of studies have looked at the wars’ effects on behavior and mental health. But the work has been done “in piecemeal fashion,” offering a
snapshot analysis of a group of servicemembers, says Terri Tanielian, a senior research analyst at RAND Corp.
I believe this was the key paragraph in determining why suicides, homicides, and anti-social actions have dominated Afghan and Iraqi military: “Military leaders have said the nation has never fought wars this long with this small of a military, deploying troops over and over. Yet questions remain about how many times a soldier can recycle into combat without psychological harm.”
We were a nation completely unprepared for the consequences of invading two countries. It became necessary to activate unprepared and untrained National Guard members as well as the regular military. Wars that were virtually unwinnable forced multiple deployments unseen before in American military history.
The crimes, committed by our government waging two unnecessary and illegal wars, is continuing to cause havoc among those who served. No one in the federal government suffered, many profited through their investments.
Recently the revelation of the enormous economic cost to our country has explained the destruction of a once prosperous nation. All in all, we lost two more wars, and our leaders are to blame. The sad part of the story, is that only the military, and working class suffered. Our courageous military and their families continue to be the true victims of an unconcerned government.
Columnist-The Guardian Express