Troop Suicide Surge Surpasses Afghan War Deaths by 50%

Associated Press reports: Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year – the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.

This is just one of the tragic costs of the perpetual war on terror in which we repeatedly recycle soldiers, sending them on tour after tour in the same unnecessary wars extending over a decade, and then cut their veteran benefits while at the same time insisting that we cannot cut spending abroad because we must “support our troops” by perpetuating the warfare state indefinitely.

If we are really interested in supporting our troops then we must diligently work to ensure that we are putting them in harm’s way only when the liberties they are meant to protect are genuinely in jeopardy – not because we want to make the Middle East “safe” for democracy, not because Afghanistan supposedly needs us to build their nation in our image and not because Iran has issued bellicose statements and has a less-than-transparent nuclear program. None of these pet-projects of America’s political elite are worth the costs paid by the foot soldiers on the ground. America’s leaders chalk up our troops suffering to the fact that “war is hell.” My response, then, is that we must stop so eagerly pursuing Hell.


Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy may contribute to Suicides among Veterans

U.S. Marine Cpl. Burness Britt, wounded June 4, 2011 in an IED blast near Sangin, Afghanistan, is part of a growing number of veterans thought to bet at risk for a unique brain injury known as CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Doctors say CTE injuries may increase suicide risk, but there is no known method to diagnose CTE outside of autopsy. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)

CTE resulting from explosions affects many veterans and has been linked by some doctors to the epidemic of suicides plaguing our men and women in uniform. How much CTE contributes to veteran suicide is unknown. However, it remains a terrible disease and there is no cure for CTE.

While support at home is vital there is no cure for CTE, and thus the best treatment is prevention – which means not putting soldiers in harm’s way in the first place. If our wars were about national defense then these costs would be at least understandable if still tragic. But if these wars are unjust and unnecessary as I believe that they are then the astronomical costs paid by our men and women in uniform are completely nonsensical. No one should have to pay the price that they do unless absolutely necessary.

Has the physical and psychological damage inflicted upon our troops been worth it? Have the deaths on and off the battlefield? Has America’s serial military intervention abroad really made us any safer?

Lets end our wars. A decade of hell is long enough. Lets get our troops out of the Middle East, put an end to the billions we spend to put them in harm’s way and put some of that money towards veterans’ benefits and support programs instead.

Lets support our troops; lets bring them home to where they belong.

US Military Suicide Rate Exceeds Combat Fatalities

If we are really interested in supporting our troops then that means cutting the political rhetoric that calls for support of our troops merely to appeal to American sensibilities and instead ending our wars, ending serial redeployments and ending cuts to veterans’ benefits and support programs.

If we are really interested in supporting our troops then we would stop treating them like cattle, shipping them off on foreign wars that have nothing to do with national defense and everything to do with nation building, stop putting soldiers directly in harm’s way, call them heroes and then immediately forget about them when they come home – until redeployment that is.

If we are really interested in supporting our troops then we would cut spending of military ventures abroad instead of slashing veterans’ benefits promised to soldiers who have loyally served their country, often times at great expense to themselves.

As Congressman Paul put it:

There’s just no legitimacy to the argument that voting against funding the war somehow harms our troops. Perpetuating and escalating the war only serve those whose egos are attached to some claimed victory in Iraq, and those with a determination to engineer regime change in Iran.

Don’t believe for a minute that additional congressional funding is needed so our troops can defend themselves or extricate themselves from the war zone. That’s nonsense. The DOD has hundreds of billions of dollars in the pipeline available to move troops anywhere on earth — including home.

We shouldn’t forget that the administration took $600 million from the war in Afghanistan and used it in Iraq, before any direct appropriations were made for the invasion of Iraq. Funds are always available to put our troops into harms way; they are always available for leaving a war zone.

Those in Congress who claim they want the war ended, yet feel compelled to keep funding it, are badly misguided. They either are wrong in their assessment that cutting funds would hurt the troops, or they need to be more honest about supporting a policy destined to dramatically increase the size and scope of this misadventure in the Middle East. Rest assured one can be patriotic and truly support the troops by denying funds to perpetuate and spread this ill-advised war.

The sooner we come to this realization, the better it will be for all of us.

If we are really interested in supporting our troops then we must stop manufacturing wars where good men and women bleed and die on the battlefield or in their bathtubs while the rest of us sit at home and watch NCIS.