Politics: 2012: Military suicides outnumber combat deaths - economy and leadership to blame
Published by: Robert Laurie on Friday December 28th, 2012
By ROBERT LAURIE - There's a good chance that this is the most depressing statistic you'll see all year.
According to a new Army report, as of November, 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers had committed suicide in 2012. During the same period, 212 men and women in uniform were lost due to combat fatalities in Afghanistan.
Back in June, the number of suicides stood at 154 - roughly half of the current total.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged the problem and blamed society at large. "We’re dealing with broader societal issues,” he said. “Substance abuse, financial distress and relationship problems -the risk factors for suicide also reflect problems that will endure beyond war.”
At the time, the remarks drew fire daring to cast aspersions on Obama's economy - which, as we all know, has completely recovered. The government promised a renewed focus on military suicide, and swore that they would spare no expense in handling the issue. Unfortunately, since then, things have gotten worse.
Since the Army is loath to classify these deaths as suicides, they list them as "potential suicides" until a full investigation is completed. For example, in October, there were 19 "potential suicides," but only nine have been confirmed. 10 are still being investigated. This process can take months.
You’d think we’d be hearing more about these deaths, as well as the lethargic pace of the investigations. During the Bush years, the press would have torn into this report like a pack of hyenas with a dead water buffalo. Yet, in the interest of protecting the Obama administration, they’ve all but ignored it.
As for our government, the DOD website claims they’re doing their best to offer solutions.
"As part of the Army’s team-based and holistic approach to suicide prevention and stigma reduction, Army chaplains remain committed to fostering a resilient and ready force by enhancing strength, reducing stigma and encouraging help-seeking behaviors,” said the Army’s Maj. Gen. Donald L. Rutherford, Chief of Chaplains. “Our soldiers, families and civilians are our most precious resource, and the chaplaincy embodies the best of our Army values when it proclaims hope, embraces community, and stands with those who feel they stand alone.”
That’s all well and good, but what if they feel they stand alone because their government has placed them in an impossible position?
Our military has sacrificed precious blood and treasure in Afghanistan for an ill-defined, and as such probably unwinnable, war. They’ve been given an arbitrary withdrawal date which has nothing to do with the accomplishment of any military goal and everything to do with politics. While they wait to leave, they’re still forced to fight, but their Commander in Chief has offered them little in the way of an objective.
When they finally do earn a ticket home, they return to a broken, barely functional, America. The economy is in the dumper, jobs are nigh-on impossible to come by, and - as a result of their low pay - former soldiers find themselves in an extraordinarily difficult financial position. All too often, this is leading to depression, substance abuse, and suicide.
Given the lack of leadership, coupled with the reality of the U.S. fiscal situation, are we really supposed to be surprised about the ugly numbers?
The President, the government, and every American citizen should be ashamed that we're doing so little to support the men and women who protect our nation. This is the darkest scandal of the Obama administration.
The DOD page regarding the report can be found here.