Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Suicide Solution at Walter Reed Medical Center

It seems the Pentagon and White House are up to their old tricks - under-reporting of injuries, deaths, etc. But I'd like to concetrate on another aspect of the under-reporting - that is, I want to consider the possible reasons why soldiers are going crazy in the field and upon returning to the States. Among the many reasons, I would posit, are:

  • Being lied to by George Bush and his cronies about the reasons we invaded Iraq in the first place. The mental anguish caused by being away from home and risking life and limb is tough enough, but add to that the anxiety of knowing that you were trying to serve your country - to be a true patriot - to make your country safer, but the real reason you were shipped across the Atlantic was to re-elect George Bush and to make Bush's friends and contributors extremely rich. You'd probably feel suckered, and there'd be nothing you could do about it. Not only that, but you'd probably begin to realize that you were actually making America less safe - at which point you'd begin to ask - why am I still here?

  • Stop-loss orders unexpectedly smash a soldier's hopes of returning home Stateside, and then tell him that not only will he/she not be going home, but he will probably not being going home for the foreseeable future. The year 2030 is the date listed on soldiers' stop-loss papers. It's the military's way of saying 'whenever we are done in Iraqistan.'

  • The highly volatile security situation in Iraqistan, knowing that you could be blown to bits at any second, must be mentally exhausting for soldiers - especially those stationed in the hot spots of the Sunni Triangle. Worse for some soldiers, they probably think about what it might be like living with no arms, or no legs, or some combination thereof. What if I get my face blown off?, they must wonder. Will my wife leave me?

  • The sense of hopelessness that a soldier might feel, combined with the awful brutality that (s)he would be subjected to on a daily basis (bombings, gun violence, violent raids, yelling and screaming to and from non-English speakers, immense mental stress from no trying to kill innocents while still protecting yourself and your buddies, human bodies - sometimes of children - torn to pieces), would eventually lead a soldier to break down. He would probably have to do one of two things: 1) Hold onto his humanity and go crazy, or 2) Become the monster that war is teaching him to become. This latter option means, in effect, to stop feeling guilty for brutalizing and killing innocents, for not being there for your buddy, for not seeing that IED before he was splattered by it, for not being able to stop his bleeding enough to save his life long enough until the field med unit could take over. Forget it all - war is war - it's the only way to survive mentally. A recent article from UPI reminds us how stressful war can actually be:

A soldier who served in Iraq apparently hung himself with a bedsheet last week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but the Pentagon did not count that death two days later when it announced "a very small increase" in the suicide rate from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Of course, I figure the suicide rate might be somewhat reduced in that some soldiers don't have the ability to off themselves. It'd be tough to hang yourself with no arms. It's unbelievable to me that Bush and his cronies have so easily been able to hide the military suicides in Iraq. I mean, whatever numbers they're providing - double it to get a better estimate. All those 'non-hostile fire' incidents you keep hearing about? Well, some are self-inflicted, non-hostile incidents. Some are to the head - for those who are too far gone, and some to the abdomen area - for those who just want a ticket home. Problem is, shooting yourself even in the relatively-safe abdomen area can be fatal, as seems to have been the case for this soldier. Sad. When will these sadist Americans supporting this or any other war figure out that war is not a picnic and it should be used as a last resort? I don't get it...

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