• Army Suicides Set New Record

    August 17, 2011

    Tags: , ,
    Posted in: Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    The Army suffered a record 32 suicides in July, the most since it began releasing monthly figures in 2009. The number includes 22 active-duty soldiers and 10 reservists. The previous record was 31, from June 2010.

    The penultimate chapter, Missing Him, from my book, recounts one of those 31 suicides from the previous record-breaking month of June 2010. The guy was fairly new, and had not made many friends. One morning he put his M-4 rifle in his mouth and triggered off a three round burst to end his life. No note, no explanation, just another story obliterated. Every death ends a story, a boy who would have been a good father, or maybe a bad husband, a decent office worker, a career soldier, we’ll never know. For all out there worried only about my book mocking the State Department or embarrassing our reconstruction efforts, you think too shallow.

    Thankfully some rules have changed since June 2010. Then, the next-of-kin of suicides did not receive a letter of presidential condolences, a Bush administration practice carried on by Obama until earlier this year.

    The sadness one feels for every death in war is made awkward for some when the cause of death is suicide. That is wrong. These men and women died as much of the war as from the war, and deserve the same sadness, the same love, the same anger as any other time a young person is taken from us too soon.

    We will miss them, every one of them.

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