By David Brown, WSWS.ORG
Thank you, WSWS.ORG
The mantra of the Obama administration and Democrat and Republican politicians about “supporting the troops,” is nothing but rank hypocrisy. The population at large, and veterans and soldiers in particular, should view Obama’s efforts to rehabilitate the Vietnam War in his Memorial Day speech as a dangerous warning.
Marine Maj. John Ruocco, pictured here with his family, was all smiles the day he returned from Iraq. In the three months afterward, though, he felt numb and depressed, lost weight, and suffered from insomnia and nightmares. He grew distracted and withdrawn. The morning after he promised his wife, Kim, he'd get help, the 40-year-old pilot based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., hanged himself in 2005. Kim Ruocco now directs suicide-prevention programs for the military-support organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. PHOTO: AP Photo/Ruocco Family
Among US forces on active duty, the suicide rate this year is the highest since the invasion of Afghanistan a decade ago, according to the Associated Press. In the first 155 days of this year, 154 active-duty troops took their own lives, an increase of 18 percent over the same period last year. At the rate of one suicide a day, fifty percent more US soldiers have taken their own lives this year than have been died in combat in Afghanistan.
Every branch of the American military that sees combat is reporting a higher level of suicides than at the same point in 2009. The military suicide rate for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars previously peaked that year, but leveled off in 2010 and 2011, so the Pentagon had projected “only” 136.2 suicides by this point in 2012.
In both absolute and relative terms, the US Army has the highest rate of suicide of any branch. While the Army makes up only 38 percent of the total military personnel, more than half the total of suicides, 80, have occurred there. Army suicides peaked at 160 in 2009 but at the current rate will reach 188 this year. Continue reading »
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