Rates are up 20% since last year, and at the highest level since the Army began keeping records in 1980.Â From The WP (my emphases):
The Army was unprepared for the high number of suicides and cases of post-traumatic stress disorder among its troops, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have continued far longer than anticipated.
[An army study] found that the common factors in suicides and attempted suicides include failed personal relationships; legal, financial or occupational problems; and the frequency and length of overseas deployments…The study…acknowledges that the Army still does not know how to adequately assess, monitor and treat soldiers with psychological problems. In fact, it says that “the current Army Suicide Prevention Program was not originally designed for a combat/deployment environment.”
Staff Sgt. Gladys Santos, an Army medic who attempted suicide after three tours in Iraq, said the Army urgently needs to hire more psychiatrists and psychologists who have an understanding of war. “They gave me an 800 number to call if I needed help,” she said. “When I come to feeling overwhelmed, I don’t care about the 800 number. I want a one-on-one talk with a trained psychiatrist who’s either been to war or understands war.”
Santos, who is being treated at Walter Reed, said the only effective therapy she has received there in the past year have been the one-on-one sessions with her psychiatrist, not the group sessions in which soldiers are told “Don’t hit your wife, don’t hit your kids” or the other groups where they play bingo or learn how to properly set a table.
TheÂ article also tells this miserable story of a female Army medic who was repeatedly harrassed by her commander in Iraq, had a nervous breakdown and shot herself, and then was brought up on chargesÂ by her commander and faced a court-martial.Â After she tried to killÂ herself, the charges were dropped.Â
Under this Administration, we’ve overtaxed and underserved our Armed Forces, to put it mildly.Â This week the House and Senate will negotiate the differences in their economic stimulus plans.Â The House bill is the one the Administration supports.Â The much more generous Senate bill is the one in which disabled vets would receive rebates.Â They were not included in the House/Bush bill.Â Fortunately, we’ve got this to look forward to, and, of course, THIS.
Clinton’s plans for Vets: 21st Century GI Bill for education, streamlined andÂ accessible healthcare/treatment, and a major expansion of economic benefits, especially housing and jobs.
Obama’s plans for Vets: improved administration, benefits expansion, and explicit emphasis on mental health
Mental Health ParityÂ Act: Passed in the Senate, languishing in the House