Military suicides rising, even as combat eases
WASHINGTON (AP) — Suicides are surging among America’s troops, averaging nearly one a day this year — the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.
The 154 suicides for active-duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the U.S. forces killed in action in Afghanistan — about 50 percent more — according to Pentagon statistics obtained by The Associated Press.
June 14, 2012 - A legal technicality is preventing the Pentagon from spending millions of dollars set aside to curb suicides, even as suicide in the ranks is on the rise, a nonprofit advocacy group says.
The Pentagon has not spent much of some $8 million Congress has provided for suicide prevention because the funds are allocated only for “in-house,” or hospital, care — not education and outreach programs, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The funds, allocated to the Defense Health Program, can be used only after a service member has attempted suicide and is receiving treatment, not before
Even as they cheer their “Obamacare” , here’s a reality check: House Republicans have done next to nothing they promised they would when it comes to health care.
Sure, they’ve voted to kill parts of President Barack law more than 30 times, slashing funding, using the votes as red meat to rally the base — even squeezing some into law.
However, they’ve fallen short of what they promised the American people they would do when it comes to actual policy.
Flash back to the campaign promises of 2010: GOP leadership told voters they would “enact medical liability reform,” allow Americans to buy health insurance across state lines, expand health savings accounts, “ensure access for patients with pre-existing conditions” and “permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion.
One of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, or coast guard is dying every day by his or her own hand. They are reaching the bottom of an emotional pit that they can’t climb out of alone. Something in their military service, a single searing event, multiple instances that took them to the razor-edged boundary that separates sanity and duty from despair and the mental demands of combat, or the continual demands for personal sacrifice that stem from a nation unwilling to take part in the wars it sends men and women out to fight, but willing to ignore the needs of those men and women when they are no longer active on the battle field.
They may reach that dark point within days of their injury. They may reach an accord with their selves that allows them to function as if nothing had happened for years. More, now, are recognizing their need for help to deal with PTSD, and are stepping away from the military’s old culture that denies PTSD and other injuries of that nature.
The Afghan war is becoming less and less supported by the American public. As the number of troops deployed decreases, the number of Americans directly affected decreases as well. Yet the risk of combat death and the particularly ignoble loss of life to our supposed allies, Afghan troops and police who are actually Taliban or Taliban supporters, affects every troop we have in theater. That high degree of continual risk at every step one takes quickly wears away the veneer of normalcy that our troops need to retrieve an put on again before trying to interact with a society and nation in which fewer and fewer members have the slightest awareness of what they have done, where they have been.
When they reach the point where they can ask for help, there is often no help or next to no help. The armed forces and the VA are finally trying to provide psychiatric treatment for these patients. They seriously want to prevent the increase in suicides that now threaten to eclipse the number of deaths in combat.
The major factor preventing the necessary psychiatric screening and treatment is cost. Congress has rubberstamped two wars that have flooded the military and veterans health care systems with large numbers of grievously wounded veterans and with many patients needing extensive rehab services for the rest of their lives. Less apparent but equally present are the less physically damaged and the thousands of men and women dating back to WWII who deal with PTSD every day. The risk of suicide is high among these patients.
Congress ignores its responsibility to our veterans. The members like to be seen praising our troops and to take highly protected trips to see the war for re-election purposes. They don’t like to pay for the privilege.
If you are, a U.S. veteran with PTSD the Democrats will do little to help you. The GOP/teavangelists will do even less to help you. After all, helping veterans means raising revenues to pay for the necessary services. The GOP/teavangelists are not going to raise the necessary tax revenues because the little dweeb, Norquist, might rat them out to voters who have no concern for veterans.
Congress, the GOP/teavanagelists, won’t fund preventive care to lower the incidence of suicide; they will only provide funding for people who make the most extreme appeal for help. Soldier’s lives, preserving them, are of less concern than displeasing a non-elected lobbyist. The GOP/teavangelists won’t provide health care for veterans, but they will make a gesture by repealing, symbolically, the affordable health care act – helpful to veterans’ families.
Here’s a gesture from me to a Congress that values Grover Norquist more than the nation’s veterans!