A Wave Of Suicides For Army Recruiters

One of the reasons I thought this war (in addition to being immoral) was so very stupid is that I remember the veterans from the Vietnam era - how man

One of the reasons I thought this war (in addition to being immoral) was so very stupid is that I remember the veterans from the Vietnam era - how many of them were a mess when they came home, and how many stayed that way. The power to send soldiers to war is a sacred trust, and it should not be used for anything less than the most compelling reasons.

As bad as it is for soldiers, recruiters have a uniquely stressful job in which they're expected to somehow turn their own war experiences into happy talk for potential converts:

Morning Edition, January 2, 2009 ยท The Army is investigating a cluster of suicides in the Houston Recruiting Battalion, where five soldiers have taken their own lives since 2001. Nationally, 17 recruiters have committed suicide during the same period.

Back in March of 2007, Aron Andersson locked himself in the cab of his Ford 150 pickup, called home to say he was going to kill himself, shot up the dashboard radio, and then put a bullet in his head. He had threatened suicide five months earlier, and back then his father, Bob Andersson, reported him to the military.

"I don't know if that was the right thing to do, but I called a major and told him his girlfriend had said he threatened to commit suicide, and she told me he was going through night terrors and a bunch of other things. And he'd get up to go to work in the morning and tell his girlfriend he was exhausted, and she'd say, 'Yeah you've been jumpin' over the couch, hidin' behind the chairs and stuff, like you're in battle,' and he wouldn't even realize it in the morning," Andersson says.

Aron Andersson served two tours in Iraq, and he was furious with his father for reporting him, saying his Army career would be ended.

"And I just simply told him, 'Well, Aron, if you don't talk to me ever again, I can live with that. But if I didn't turn you in and something happened, I don't think I could live with that,' " Bob Andersson says.

Andersson says his son had trouble delivering the required two recruits a month, especially after his experience in Iraq.

"How could you be over there and see some of the things he saw and dealt with, and try to hire people to go over there and do that?" he says.

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