Democracy Now!, June 2012
Every week, I do the In Memoriam segment to make sure that for the families of service members reading C&L and those in service know that we have not forgotten about their sacrifices. Each week, I look up those names and find Facebook pages and obituary pages filled with grief and loss. Some of the news reports I find openly state that the cause of death is suicide. Most times, they simply say that the cause of death is "under investigation", but if you dig further, it becomes clear that the death was a suicide. What we and the Pentagon need to own is that after twelve years in Afghanistan and multiple tours of duty for most of the troops stationed there, far too many suicides are occuring.
More soldiers took their own lives than died in combat during 2012, new Department of Defense figures show. The Army's suicide rate has climbed by 9 percent since the military branch launched its suicide-prevention campaign in 2009.
Through November, 177 active-duty soldiers had committed suicide compared to 165 during all of 2011 and 156 in 2010. In all of 2012, 176 soldiers were killed in action -- all while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, according to DOD.Army suicides have increased by at least 54 percent since 2007 when there were 115 — a number the Washington Post then called "an all-time record."
This is an abomination on every level. While pundits and politicos talk about "shared sacrifice" we are using up these troops with three, four, five tours of duty, foreclosing on their homes stateside, ignore them as they transition to private life and now talk about cutting back on their benefits as part of our "fiscal responsibility".
Each Sunday, I write those names of the casualties and I think of the kids who no longer have that parent for all the important milestones to come. The spouses who have lost a partner and mate. The parents who will bury their child. And it breaks my heart to know how many of them saw no other way out than to take their own life.