Army Suicides: The Invisible Elephant in the Pentagon

Salem News

April 13, 2009, Molalla, OR – I listened to Katy Couric’s story about excessive and worrisome Army suicides on Thursday, April 8th, on CBS. This did not surprise me.

I was a Combat Infantryman, point man, Battalion scout and forward observer in the Infantry during WWII for about two months. When I tell this to fellow Infantry battle veterans, they usually say, “No, you weren’t.”

Well, I was, and I have the PTSD, a Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star to prove it. Been there, done that, seen that!

What really surprised me were the comments of a Light Colonel at Fort Campbell. In response to the shocking numbers, he remarked, “I hardly believed it.”

Well, Colonel, I have some news for you, the Blood and Guts of war mostly occurs to the front of the company command post and most of that kind of war is fought by the Privates with a little help for Corporals and Sergeants, and practically none from the officers behind company CP and even less at Battalion or those way back someplace where the USO and Red Cross girls are.

Those guys’ biggest stress was getting their two or three bottles of booze before it ran out.

Katy reported 13 Army suicides in March ’09, and 54 since January 1, and 140 for last year. The frontline dogface Infantryman sure know what is going on, even if the colonels don’t.

Who said “War is Hell”? I’ll bet a private said it first.

Now as a battle-scarred PTSD veteran, I’m going to tell the Colonel from the Army trade school in West Point not what is going on, but what is NOT going on.

“The frontline soldiers are totally stressed out.” “Urban combat is like walking blindfolded into a mine field.”

“The thousand pound IEDs are the booby traps and the explosion of one can OBLITERATE a soldier even many yards away.”

That is not like going for the booze ration.

In Europe and even in Korea and Nam, soldiers could go AWOL if only for a few hours or days. Any escape from the front can be a life saver.

They sure can’t do it in Iraq.

I predicted two years ago on that the PTSD and suicide rates of this war would be catastrophic from my own experience.

I am comforted that the newspapers, TV etc and finally the Army have caught up with the facts, maybe.

The worst part of this is that the Army medical and VA care is a colossal travesty. The drugs they are foisting on the PTSD vets are only working on the low level cases.

Those in the moderate or especially severe cases are S-O-L. They are the alcoholics, drug users and suicides.

We will probably spend a trillion dollars taking care of these PTSD vets.

HOORAH for my fellow PTSD vets.

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