Saturday, April 20, 2024 -
Print Edition

Suicide in the US Army

The suicide rate in the US Army is at its highest level since the military began recording these statistics 28 years ago –– and you can blame it almost entirely on the army.

In the professional world, we call a person who works long hours without stopping for breath a candidate for the fast track. In the army, redeploying soldiers to Iraq right before they are supposed to be discharged is called stop-loss. Redeploying mentally unstable or physically exhausted soldiers too quickly can also put a stop to life. There are insurgents, and there are suicidal rules. It is only the latter that the army can control.

More and more, soldiers are committing suicide either in Iraq or upon return home. Whether they are the target of an insurgent’s bomb or their own depression and anxiety, the result is too often the same. Death.

The number of successful suicides is relatively small compared to the number of unsuccessful attempts. Reported suicide attempts increased  500% from 350 in 2002 to 2,100 last year.

Needless to say, multiple redeployments fracture families and finances, work and peace and mind. The heart never relaxes. The soul never kicks back. Hope wilts before it ever grows sufficient wings to fly. But in wartime, all this might be the price to pay for freedom.

Just this: During the Vietnam War, America had a draft. Now there is a war in Iraq, but no draft. Thus, the military burden is distributed unevenly. The same male and female volunteers are reused like bald tires. And you know what happens to bald tires. They suddenly go flat –– or explode. According to an article in the Rocky Mountain News, the army has even sent back to Iraq soldiers who have tried to commit suicide.

The army should end this policy before soldiers lose their lives not to the dread of war, but to the unwise rules of their own military.

Leave a Reply