Saturday, August 7, 2010

Taps. Saturday, August 7, 2010.

“War is hell.” – William Tecumseh Sherman

“Momma, I haven’t killed anybody here and I hope I never have to kill anybody,” wrote Texas Army Specialist Joseph Suell from Iraq. He chose, instead, to kill himself with an overdose of amphetamines and ibruprofin, leaving behind a wife and three small children. He was 24.

The Military has always had to cope with suicides, but they’re dealing with something new. The number of suicides is like nothing ever seen before. According to a recent AP article: “In the year that ended Sept. 30, 2009, 160 active duty soldiers took their own lives — a record for the Army. The Marines set their own tragic record in 2009 with 52 suicides. And this past June, another record was set — 32 military suicides in just one month.”

When men and women join the Military, they agree to lay down their lives for their country. They go through incredibly difficult basic training that molds them physically and mentally to be able to fight and survive. But I’m sure none of them go in expecting to take their own lives.

Those who know me know that my family and I marched against the war the night before our country’s “Shock and Awe” raid on Iraq. My heart sank the next morning as I watched the news. I felt for the innocent Iraqis that had to be getting killed with all that firepower, but also for the American soldiers who would eventually die in the conflict. But it certainly never occurred to me then that we’d be there a decade later, and that so many soldiers would have died by their own hands.

War is something terrible, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder follows many soldiers home. Our country is failing the very people who said they would die for their country by not providing adequate physical and mental health care to them when they get home, and for allowing such an astounding number of Veterans to become homeless.

And meanwhile, what has really been accomplished? Besides spending billions of dollars that could have been spent on health care and housing?

I guess it’s what they call “collateral damage.”

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