#ThrowbackThursday: The Wars That Wage Inside!

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Photo Credit: iStock.com/Artist's MivPiv

Brandon Barrett, a 28 years old army officer came home from his year long deployment in Afghanistan, which was a brutal experience for him, to say the least. He stayed with his family for a month before he went out one day, fully clad in his army uniform and rifle, and got himself shot in the head by provoking an attack from the local police. Now if it were any other person than an army officer, a regular guy who did not know the law or did not know anything about attacking an officer, it would have made some other explanation, as it was, this guy was an army officer, he knew how to fire a rifle when he aimed for the policeman’s leg instead of his head or his chest, clearly indicating that all he wanted to do was get an immediate and preferably fatal reaction, which he did. Why, you may wonder?

US Military

Suicide tendency is increasing in a shocking amount in the U.S. Military, and this is only one such incident. According to the Associated Press reports, the numbers have gone up since 2012 and there had been 154 suicides among active-duty troops through Thursday, a rate of nearly one each day this year. This is an increase of 18 percent from 2011, and in 2010 the number stood at 123 military suicides, while 2009 saw 133 of these deaths. And contrasting to that, survey reports tell that 124 military combat deaths were reported this year up till June 1 in Afghanistan.

What Are We Doing To Prevent It?

Ever since 2005, the rates of military suicides have increased, as though in direct proportion to the war’ intensities. So much so that Pentagon has had to start a Defense Suicide Prevention Office, to control the numbers of increasing suicides. Ninety-three active-duty soldiers had killed themselves through the end of August, the latest data shows and a third of those cases are under investigation by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner’s Office. In 2007, 115 soldiers committed suicide. The numbers just seem to be growing with each passing year, and the need for some immediate action has arisen. Last year, Reuters reached out to every state in the United States to inquire about suicides among veterans. Data collected from 32 states showed an increase in suicides from 2005 to 2010. Even the Pentagon is at a loss as to why the numbers keep increasing every year.

Suicide Every 80 Minutes

US government began closely tracking suicides in 2001 through the Department of Defense Suicide Event Report (DoDSER). It exceeds the 311 Americans who died in war zones last year. The officials were concerned that an array of Army programs aimed at suicide prevention has not yet broken the stride of a years-long rise in the rate of the suicides committed. Still, they said the number of deaths probably would have climbed even more without such efforts, small as they may seem right now.

To Get To The Root Of Evil:

Many families have lost their soldiers, not to the war in Afghanistan and Iraq but to the wars that seem to be raging on inside the soldiers. What they see on the field, the people they have to combat and kill, the lives that are ended in front of their eyes, the soldiers that die with whom they had been together in that far off country is bound to leave a mark on their minds.

Consider leaving everything you are familiar with, your friends and family, your home, your language, your culture, and go off to an entirely different place on earth, a different climate, different language, different culture, different and maybe hostile situations, working on duty day in and day out, with nothing to distract from the horrendous enormity of war…how would anybody cope with all of that and still be in their right minds, still be themselves?

War is not easy, for soldiers and people on both sides of it. Everybody is victimized, for if we consider the reality of these seemingly simple 3 letters that make up the word ‘war,’ we find that it is mass destruction, and in the words of Edmund Blunden, a Monster. It leaves everybody scarred, traumatized through its gruesome reality. Once you live through it, it changes you forever.

The Least We Could Do …

These soldiers sign up for Military, to defend the honor and rights of their country and its people, even with their life if it comes to that, so it becomes a duty as a human being, of every citizen to heed this growing issue of military suicides. Why do our defenders feel like they have no other choice but to end their lives like this? What about their families? When they are off in some other country, fighting someone else’s war, what worries are burdening their minds? Who is taking care of the wife and kids back home, and most importantly they must wonder every time a bomb explodes, will they get to see them again?

So when a mind that goes through such extreme turmoil gets back to civilization, what is it that keeps it unsatisfied, or unsettled? We really need to address this growing problem seriously. It is our duty to consider doing everything in our power to help those brave soldiers who were defending our rights and our country by sacrificing their lives, their chances at happiness and what not. Maybe they had a divorce because they couldn’t be home more often, maybe their parents died and they didn’t get to know about it in time. Maybe they regret missing all the graduations and the proms and the picnics with their children, every part of a normal life that they could have been a part of too, they gave up all of that to fight a war for the betterment of the world. And to have them end their lives like they are some unimportant piece of thing that nobody needs is just plain painful. The government is starting to take real interest in these suicide cases and the families of the retired or paroled Military soldiers and officers should also step up and do all they can.

How’s Military Handling the Heroes?

Some Army families who recently lost members to suicide criticize the branch for failing to aggressively shake a culture in which soldiers believe they’ll be deemed weak and denied promotion if they seek mental health aid. Such problems need to be instantly dealt with, for if the Army won’t help its troubled soldiers, who else would, where would they go? The latest efforts that the Army has extended towards the prevention of these incidents include the hiring of hundreds of new mental health providers, the production of an interactive video on the subject, to be released this fall, and the introduction of an intervention program aimed at teaching junior Army leaders not only suicidal symptoms but actions that can prevent suicides. They have started a program called ACE, which has shown positive results so far, due to its directness of method. in this program they started handing out laminated cards decorated with the ace of hearts that advise three steps — “ask,” “care” and “escort” — that spell “ACE”: Ask your friend direct questions such as “Are you thinking of killing yourself?”; care for your friend by taking away weapons; and escort your friend to a military chaplain or health provider. For such measures to really work it is necessary that the soldiers who are let off duty, or sent home be kept under constant contact, care and supervision, and also that they be closely surrounded by their family and friends so that any such inclinations or their depressions can be duly noted and treated with utmost affection and support.

It’s a shame really, for any nation to be losing their bravest of the brave in this cowardly fashion, when they figure out that the only way to end their tormented depressions is to end their lives just so they wouldn’t be deemed weak, or wouldn’t have to face any criticism or rejection. They don’t need our judgments; they need our support and understanding. The U.S. Army is making available suicide prevention resources for troops and their families, including hotlines and links to suicide outreach organizations geared towards military personnel. Let’s hope it works!

About The Author

Kelvin Stiles is a tech enthusiast and works as a marketing consultant at SurveyCrest – FREE online survey software and publishing tools for academic and business use. He is also an avid blogger and a comic book fanatic.