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101 G.I. Suicides Must Not Be Afterthoughts

By       Message Sandy Sand       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   17 comments

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Oh, by the way, the Pentagon, as an afterthought to the 3,705 G.I. deaths in Iraq since the start of the war five-and-a-half years ago, said that 101 U.S. service men and women have committed suicide after returning home.

According to Brandon Friedman, author of "The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War," there have also been more than 900 attempted suicides by U.S. armed services personnel.

Some suicides occur within weeks of a soldier's returning home, Friedman said in an interview on Countdown, but most occur later. Often symptoms don't begin setting in until a returning soldier has been home for six months or more.

Incidents of suicide are also going up along with tours of duty that were extended from 12 months to 15 months. The statistics provided by the Pentagon were from before the extended tours went into effect, Friedman said, and it's the highest rate in the past 26 years.

As of August 18, the Pentagon, the reaper and custodian of the grimmest of statistics, those of our soldiers who died in Iraq, said the death toll stands at 3,705. The real toll, for whom no bell tolls is really 3,806.

The number of dead revealed by the Pentagon is every bit as much of a lie as lies told by the bloody-handed one who got us into this mess...this quagmire.

After adding in the 101 suicides, even 3,806 isn't the real number, because an injured soldier who doesn't have the courtesy to die within a given number of days after his injuries were sustained, is not included in the final grim total.

No bells toll for them, because they took their own lives, yet they are the tragic causalities of war whose deaths are treated as afterthoughts. They may have died by their own hand, yet they died as a result of the war as surely as if they'd been shot between the eyes by a sniper or had been blown up by an I.E.D.

No bells toll because the man upon whom all the blood, all the grief, all the suffering lies is George "I Lied Us Into War" Bush. Those black-swathed bells hang in abject silence, because Bush still won't let the flag-draped coffins be greeted by mourners, nor will he allow photos to be taken of the coffins that hold the cherished remains of the fallen as the return home to Dover Field.

Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are as invisible to George Bush as the rest of America is. When Hillary Clinton said this very thing, Dana Perino, a Bush spokesliar, took exception to the statement and said Bush cares deeply about the soldiers.

If anybody felt he really cared there would be no reason to say it he doesn't care.

If Bush cared about the soldiers, the following two or three inches of copy would be a big blank white spot in the middle of the page:

Cutting V.A. benefits; horrific conditions in V.A. hospitals; making G.I.s pay for lost equipment, health insurance and some travel expenses; not providing the proper equipment or enough equipment; families having to spend money on proper helmets and vests; reclassifying injuries so they're not covered by the V.A.; not planning for or providing mental health care; extending tours of duty; gutting the National Guard leaving their loved ones at home with unprotected borders and no help in the event of an attack or national disaster. The list goes on and on.

No, George Walker Bush doesn't give a damn about these brave souls who have been serving their country to their utmost; who are doing the best job they can with what they've been given to work with.

They are forced to serve with Bush's good buddy's highly paid mercenaries while they get short shrift at every turn. They are the ones who are being asked not only to do the impossible, but are asked to do things they are not trained to do.

They are being asked to clean up a political mess in Iraq, and to go after terrorists, when catching terrorists is police work, not soldier work.

No, to George Bush they are fodder for his unimaginable dreams of glory, world domination and belief that he is the messenger of God. He actually told us God speaks to him. Anybody else who said that out loud and publicly as he has would be hauled off to spend a lot of nice quiet time in a clean, white, padded room.

These real, living, breathing soldiers are his personal toy soldiers. They are props to be marched out at his whim, or to stand proudly behind him on the stage when he deems fit to put them on display for the television cameras like so many G.I. Joe dolls lined up on a shelf in a little boy's bedroom.

These "afterthoughts," the ones who come home and find they can no longer bear to live, who thought that everything seemed to be fine in the beginning, Friedman said, become swallowed up by misery.

Slowly, inevitable, day by day the depression, frustration and having no where to turn -- again thank to the bloodmaster Bush -- are overwhelmed by feelings and memories that they cannot cope with.

It's hard to imagine the desperation and loneliness they must feel, even the ones who are lucky enough to be surrounded by friends and family.

We can only try to imagine what horrors they saw or experienced while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To anyone who is paying attention, these brave men and women who return home feeling they can never really come home again should never be afterthoughts to us.

If we are to keep them from becoming afterthoughts and falling into the Pentagon's category of, oh, by the way 101 soldiers committed suicide after coming home, we must keep talking about them.

We have to keep reminding people that they may be the most tragic of deaths of all those who died as a result of the folly of the war in Iraq.

We have to think of each one of those deaths as if it were the death of our own child.

We must keep them from becoming mere afterthoughts.

 

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Sandy Sand began her writing career while raising three children and doing public relations work for Women's American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training). That led to a job as a reporter for the San Fernando Valley Chronicle, a (more...)
 

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