There’s an epidemic among American combat troops after eleven years of unnecessary, fruitless and non-stop conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s not caused by a bacteria or virus.
Our active duty soldiers are committing suicide at the rate of more than one individual every day. The Pentagon is facing a record year of suicides, averaging 33 deaths per month so far this year, according to data through Sept. 2.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are all reporting record increases this year in suicides. The Marine Corps has averaged about two suicides a week in recent months.
But the Army has suffered the highest numbers, tripling its suicide rate from 9.7 cases-per-100,000 in 2004 to 29.1-per-100,000 last month. In July, a record 38 soldiers killed themselves, according to service data.
At the rate they are committing suicide now it appears that more U.S. soldiers are dying by their own hand than by those of enemy combatants.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says military leaders should be held accountable for whether they succeed in helping desperate troops avoid choosing suicide. "What I've tried to do, very frankly, is to make sure that not only the secretary (of Defense), but all of the military leadership kick ass on this issue," said Panetta. "Leaders ought to be judged by how they lead on this issue."
Panetta added that the last decade of fighting two wars holds "lots of lessons" to be learned about "the human side of this prolonged warfare and how do we get a handle" on problems such as traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. He said the military is still searching for answers to what's happening.
Obviously the Pentagon, in Panetta’s words, hasn’t “kicked much ass on this issue” during the last 60 years, having learned no lessons at all in Korea and Vietnam, despite all the ass kicking which went on there. Ass kicking seems to be the problem, not the solution.
Only in the last decade of fighting two totally unnecessary wars has the military “learned lots of lessons,” and only now has it dawned on the big brass that there might be a “human side of this prolonged warfare” that needs getting a “handle” on.
Yes, Mr. Panetta, there is indeed a human side to all of this that you and the United States government simply will never understand no matter how hard you search.
I’ll call it ‘clusterfuck’ for lack of a better term. When soldiers are subjected to more than a decade of clusterfuck, in which nothing whatsoever is accomplished except the sacrifice of thousands of their friends for no purpose, some of them begin to unravel upstairs and decide that they might be better off just killing themselves than enduring one more minute of it.
"I want to make sure that we are aware of how tragic this problem is and how urgent it is for us to try and address it," Panetta said. "We're talking about men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect this country. We have to do everything possible to try to make sure we protect them."
He wants to make sure that we are aware how tragic the problem is, which tells me that up until now he’s been unaware and has done nothing substantial to address it.
No, Mr. Panetta, we’re not talking about men and women putting their lives on the line to protect this country. Far from it – they are certainly doing nothing in Iraq and Afghanistan to protect their country and they know it – that’s the meaning of clusterfuck. They know they are wasting their time, effort and lives on a worthless cause which is only exacerbating the political and diplomatic problems in the Middle East.
"Part of it, I think, is due to a nation that's been at war for over a decade," said Panetta. "You have repeated deployments and sustained combat exposure to enormous stresses and strains on our troops and on their families that produced a lot of seen and unseen wounds that contribute to the suicide risk."
Well, duh! Do you think that’s part of it, Mr. Secretary?
Panetta said he also believes the military population is sensitive to issues that plague society at large -- substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems. Yes, Mr. Panetta, clusterfuck is plaguing society at large too, and all you are doing is paying lip service to it.
The answer to this problem is simple and Ron Paul has been harping on it for years mostly to deaf ears in the Pentagon and U.S. government.
Stop the Wars. Stop the military buildup. Stop the clusterfuck.
Those poor soldiers are not dying for country.