Our Advertisers Represent Some Of The Most Unique Products & Services On Earth!

Suicide And The Soldier
By Gary G. Kohls, MD
Nine years ago, the Cheney/Bush/Rove/Rumsfeld administration started, by a series of treasonous lies, its so-called endless wars on the nebulous "terrorism", much of which was provoked by decades of anti-Muslim/pro-Israeli US foreign policies. According to the US Department of Defense more US military personnel have taken their own lives since 2001 than have been killed in action (KIA) in either Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2009 alone, more than 330 active servicemen and women have committed suicide - more than those KIAs in Afghanistan and Iraq. And this number doesn't count the veterans who have killed themselves following their discharge.
The suicide rate in the US military, prior to 2001, was lower than that for the general US population. In the years since 2001, the suicide rate for active duty personnel is nearly double the national average.
When military campaigns result in suicide numbers that exceed those killed by enemy combatants, there should be a massive hue and cry demanding to know the reasons why. And the reasons behind the secret decisions to send our previously mentally healthy soldiers "into harm's way" to become unnecessary mental health casualties must be questioned.
It needs to be pointed out again that the official Pentagon figures only keep track of completed suicides that occur in active duty personnel but these numbers are artificially low and always have been.
Indeed, many Vietnam vets say that there should be another Wall in DC just to honor and/or lament the ones who died after that atrocious war ended. Likewise, the numbers of suicides are just as deceptively low as are the KIA count, which does not number as KIA those who died after clearing Iraqi or Afghani air space en route to military hospitals in Europe.
Also not included in Pentagon figures are the large numbers of veterans who take their own lives following discharge. These are veterans who "come home crazy", justifiably angry, understandably hopeless about the endless struggle to return to normalcy, instead finding a toxic, nearly bankrupt nation (largely because of consistent and excessive military spending over the decades) where life does not have the same meaning for them compared to what they experienced in the camaraderie of the combat zone. Those soldiers, who all-too-frequently have gradually become psychologically and spiritually damaged, return to civilian life totally changed. They return to unsuspecting and unprepared loved ones, who are often secondarily traumatized by the soldier. Those loved ones often can't understand (and sometimes don't want to hear about) the painful hellish realities that their soldier almost didn't survive.
On top of the underestimation of completed suicides among active duty soldiers and discharged veterans, the Department of Defense apparently makes no attempt to measure the incidence of suicidal thinking or unsuccessful suicide attempts. The exact figures are obviously not known, For an estimate of such suicidality, it has been suggested that one might just multiply the incidence of successful suicides by 5 or 10. One PTSD-related study of Vietnam-era veterans showed that 20% of that study group were chronically plagued by a preoccupation with suicidal thinking. An example of this sobering reality is Tim O'Brien, the honored author of a number of award-winning novels about the Vietnam War, including "The Things They Carried", "Going After Cacciato" and "In the Lake of the Woods". O'Brien still suffers from intermittent suicidal thinking.
As another indication of the hidden consequences of being in a kill-or-be-killed warzone, many historians estimate that there may have been as many as 200,000 Vietnam veterans who committed suicide after they came home from the war. The KIA/MIA number in that war was "only" 58,000. There are obviously plenty of reasons to build another Wall or two.
It should come as no surprise that the suicide rate among demobilized veterans from the Gulf Wars may now be as high as four times the national average! And it is apparently climbing. The US Department of Veteran Affairs calculates that over 6,000 former service personnel (from all wars) commit suicide every year. What is this saying about what will probably go down in history as another of the many useless, senseless and nation-bankrupting wars?
Many of these discharged men and women came home understandably depressed, sleep-deprived, irritable, malnourished, angry, demoralized and, on top of all that, perhaps even feeling guilty about the gruesome sights, sounds and smells that they had seen or been responsible for. Only the most ethical soldiers refused to obey illegal orders under fire, perhaps saving their souls in the process.
An alarming number of combat soldiers are being given brain-altering psych drugs to numb their emotional pain, artificially stimulate their understandable low mood, quell the equally understandable nervousness or produce a chemically-induced semi-coma that might simulate sleep.
Along with these prescription drugs, these troubled soldiers might be, like their civilian counterparts back home falsely-labeled with a mental illness diagnosis or two and be told that they need to stay on drugs for the rest of their lives! In reality civilians and soldiers alike may only be experiencing a situation of "overwhelm" of known etiology that is likely to be temporary and therefore treatable without brain-altering drugs.
Many psychiatric drugs are known to actually increase the incidence of suicidal thinking and usually cause many other adverse effects that can be misinterpreted as mental illness symptoms. These widely used psych drugs, whether legal or illegal, are also well known to produce various degrees of altered thinking (called "spell-binding" by psychiatrist Peter Breggin in his recent book titled "Medication Madness"). These drug effects include altered impulse control, rage reactions, worsening depression, drug-induced mania, insomnia or irrational behaviors such as criminal or antisocial behaviors. Many psych drugs can cause dependence and addiction, so that serious withdrawal symptoms can occur when a patient tries to cut down or quit the medication, good for the pharmaceutical industry but very bad for patients and their brains. These withdrawal symptoms are often misdiagnosed as a "relapse" of the patient's "mental illness" whereas the symptoms may have never been seen prior to the use of the drug.
How crazy-making must it be for physically and spiritually-wounded veterans, who thought that they were defending their country, being willing to die for democracy, and then finding out too late that they had actually been fighting and killing and dying for thousands of corporate war profiteers like Halliburton, Gulf Oil, Blackwater, the big financial institutions, the weapons-makers, the gun-runners and the reflected glory for ChickenHawk politicians and talking heads like Cheney, Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Rove, Limbaugh, Hannity and numberless others who never experienced the horrors of war themselves?
So now we are saddled with tens of thousands, in dramatically increasing numbers, of seemingly expendable, increasingly unpatriotic and very angry young men and women who are newly haunted by unseen demons, coming home to a country that is said to be undergoing what is euphemistically called a "jobless recovery" by guilty Wall Street cheerleaders who, for the benefit of their satisfied investors, went along with another highly profitable war that changed forever the lives of the duped soldiers. And now they can find no work, may not be able concentrate well enough to handle college and may have finally tumbled to the fact that they had been deceived by their military recruiters who had promised valuable work experience in the military, a college education but made no mention of the psychological costs of going to war.
Often these soldiers came back to find out that their homes had been repossessed by a corrupt banking industry that had been rescued of their reckless, unethical and criminal activities by multi-billion dollar bailouts ­ with no bail-outs for the grunts who worked so hard doing what they thought was their patriotic duty. Too often they returned to find their marriages on the rocks and their family on food stamps. Is it any wonder that many ex-soldiers have simply lost the will to live?
It seems to me that any ethical person who is still thinking, who is trying to read between the lines, who cares about the survival of his faltering nation and perhaps has sworn to defend the US against its domestic enemies, knows that it is time to stop the hemorrhage that is bleeding the US dry at a rate of $450,000,000 per day (450 million dollars a day!!) down a seemingly bottomless Pentagon pit, a pit that is also "disappearing" thousands of previously healthy young uniformed American men and women, many of whom look like they might wind up permanently disabled in body, mind and spirit.
Most Americans don't think continuing these useless and senseless wars is worth the huge costs we all will bear ­ costs that are known and unknown, current and future - whether the wars are ultimately declared "won" or "lost". Most Americans in their heart of hearts know that we can't afford to continue spending massive amounts of money that our nation doesn't have on destructive wars when so many human needs are being left unmet. It's time to cut our losses, declare victory and bring the troops home before more damage is done to them and our nation.
Dr. Kohls is a recently retired physician who practiced holistic mental health care and came to understand the importance of psychological and spiritual trauma (and the mostly neurologic disorder called posttraumatic stress disorder (and its variants) as a major root cause of what are most often instead called "mental illnesses of unknown etiology". If the reader is interested in exploring those realities, a number of videointerviews on the topic are available online at www.iHealthTube.com. Many of the videos are also on YouTube.
Donate to Rense.com
Support Free And Honest
Journalism At Rense.com
Subscribe To RenseRadio!
Enormous Online Archives,
MP3s, Streaming Audio Files, 
Highest Quality Live Programs


This Site Served by TheHostPros