With 160 active-duty soldiers killing themselves last year, the US Army set a new record for suicides. As Jason Ditz reports, “This surpassed the previous record of 140 in 2008, and the previous record before that was 115 in 2007. The Army has been keeping track of suicides since 1980, with the level suddenly rising to epidemic levels in recent years.”
First released by the AP on Friday, this story has been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media. Part of the reason, I imagine, is that it was a fairly busy news weekend, what with the president throwing a surprise birthday party for the first lady and all. But I suspect there’s more to it than that. I suspect part of the reason is that the MSM (and I include Fox News here) realizes that people just don’t want to hear it.
The American people, those loveable idiots who drive around with Support Our Troops ribbons on the backs of their cars, just don’t want to hear bad things about our troops. When anonymous government officials claim that Jessica Lynch fought a John McClane-like battle before being taken captive by Iraqi soldiers, that’s all the networks can talk about. That’s all people want to hear about. Rambo in Iraq. Hell yeah, pass the popcorn.
But nobody wants to expose themselves to anything that would challenge their deeply-held, Hollywood-inspired beliefs about war. They’ll give a shout-out to our troops during Sunday morning church service; they’ll encourage their first-graders to write letters showing their support. But they don’t want to know what’s really happening.
They don’t want to hear that, far from turning our boys into men, these wars are destroying them. There’s, of course, the physical destruction, as many American soldiers keep coming home in body bags. (Expect as many as 500 a month come this summer, warns retired General Barry McCaffrey.) But there’s also the tremendous psychological destruction.
Any war is going to inflict hell on its participants, but “the Long War" has been particularly harsh. Multiple deployments, some of them coming as the result of the military’s stop-loss program, have pushed many of our troops to the breaking point. Psychiatrist Kernan Manion, who’s treated several returning Marines, states: “Frankly, in my more than twenty-five years of clinical practice, I’ve never seen such immense emotional suffering and psychological brokenness—literally, a relentless stream of courageous, well-trained and formerly strong Marines deeply wounded psychologically by the immensity of their combat experiences” (h/t Antiwar Radio).
Manion continues: “There’s currently simply no terminology in the APA [American Psychiatric Association] literature for this. When you’re dealing with cumulative stress from constant guardedness because of continuous exposure to danger—multiple firefights, patrols, losses of buddies and utter exhaustion from deployment—and then you have family problems, and relationship problems, and then on top of all of that you have commanders telling you you’re nothing but a worthless piece of shit, you simply can’t think straight anymore, and who could be expected to.”
In an attempt to cope, many soldiers turn to drugs and alcohol, and many others, as Friday’s AP story reminds us, end up killing themselves. Needless to say, the effects of this psychological destruction remain even after one leaves the service. As Dahr Jamail points out, “A 2008 court case in California revealed a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) email that revealed 1,000 veterans who are receiving care from the VA are attempting suicide every single month, and 18 veterans kill themselves daily.”
But again, the American idiocracy, with all its meaningless symbols and gestures, doesn’t want to hear any of this. Which is why we need to bring this to the idiocracy’s attention and explain why it’s yet another reason to bring our troops home.