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January 31st, 2008
05:02 PM ET

Army’s rising suicide rate?

 U.S Army Soldiers.

U.S Army Soldiers.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Some very troubling statistics when it comes to our troops. The number of suicides in the Army jumped by as much as 20% in 2007, with officials saying that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide.
In fact, about 25% of the suicides happened in Iraq. And, it's expected that the number of suicides by active duty troops may reach an all-time high for last year.

This report also shows a significant increase in the number of attempted suicides and self-injuries. There were 2,100 last year, more than six times as many as the 350 attempts in 2002, the year before the war in Iraq began.

The Army says the "main indicators" for suicides are failed personal relationships, legal and financial problems and job stress. They found the number of days troops are deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan contributes to that stress.

It's probably no coincidence then that the Pentagon last year extended tours of duty from 12 months to 15 months, and that some troops have been sent back into the war zone several times.

Troop surveys in Iraq have shown that 20% of Army soldiers have signs of post-traumatic stress, including flashbacks. About 35% of soldiers are getting some kind of mental health treatment a year after returning home.

Another tragic side effect of this war.

Here’s my question to you: What should the Army do about a sharp rise in the suicide rate of soldiers?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Janet from Columbus, Georgia writes:
The most important thing we can do is to elect a president who has pledged to end the war. And that ain't John McCain.

J.E. writes:
War is hell, and will take its toll on even the mightiest hearts and most resolute spirits. We need to provide our servicemen and servicewomen with adequate mental health care at home and overseas. Though we live in an age of stop-lossing, we have to do something besides just pointing out at the battlefield with the command, "Back to the front lines!" They deserve far more for their already too-great sacrifices.

Donald from Butte, Montana writes:
Since only about 30% of Americans, probably all die-hard Republicans, support continuing the war, send them to Iraqi/Afghanistan as replacements. This includes all the senators, congressmen, and Pentagon staff as well. While we're at it, send the Secretary of Defense to Baghdad. If all these so-called 'patriots' truly support this cause, then let them put their lives on the line!

David from San Bernardino, California writes:
There have been suicides in every war in our history. When you send someone out to kill another human being for God knows what reason it is going to affect a soldier in some way. Everyone in combat has seen horrific and sub-human things that they want to forget, but can't. The problem now is that the soldiers keep being sent back over and over in a war without end. When I was in during Vietnam, you only had to serve one tour and that was it... A human being can only take so much.

Bev from Miami writes:
Admit we need the draft and stop the lying. Make McCain a general and send him over there to help with his war stance.

David writes:
Bring them home. Now.


Filed under: U.S. Army
soundoff (159 Responses)
  1. Tina

    Plain and simple. Cut and run. These young men and women are flat worn out. How would you like to know you are going back 3 to 4 or more times without much rest at home with family. This is not how a military should be operating. We are not the world's police force.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:21 pm |
  2. Jeri

    How about, BRINGING THEM HOME? And then there is TREATING THEIR INJURIES LIKE WE PROMISED!

    Can you get your head around why tax payer money is paying Blackwater Thugs 150 to $200.000 a year in Iraq doing what our E-3s are getting 27,000 for, (If they are married and receiving BAQ)!

    Jack, We are all out of Honor at the White House, the Pentagon and CIA, and the Speaker of the House!

    We have to stop this War based on lies, Impeach Bush and his henchman Chenny and Bring our Troops home! Instead the lies just keep coming!

    January 31, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  3. Laura

    Pull out of Iraq, maybe? Show me the person or method capable of preparing a soldier to kill someone or watch someone die, and maybe then the Army will be able to prevent suicide. Until then, an ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Michael "C" in Lorton, VA

    Jack: The Army job is to treat the mental illness associated with the war in Iraq. What the president needs to do is to "eliminate the source and cause" by ending this unforsaken conflict. My hat off to those who are serving and who have served. It is their job and do it like no other in the world. The way to cure a disease is to "rid the source", and not continually treat the signs and symptoms.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  5. Scott

    they need to understand that even the finest fighting force on the earth comes to the point that they've seen and been involved with enough death that it becomes the only way to truly get away from the killing.
    even the best are still human, mere mortals, those memories are so full of devastation that the illusion of what they are fighting for becomes a burden of mixed emotion that no one wants to here are care about it.
    what is freedom if it cost everything we hold dear, our very soul's.
    no one who's seen combat fears hell, for even it is an oais from the dreams.

    bowling green,mo.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:41 pm |
  6. Ralph

    You can't keep sending these guys back over and over again. It's almost criminal. I was just a clerk and went through this until 1992. Just think horrorable it must be for combat veterans. And I know when you are in a support roll and suffer from it you feel ashamed, and sadly, the VA trashes and shames you.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  7. Karl in SF

    With the cause being too many tours in the Middle East that are too long, with too little rest between them and a year to go before reason takes over and starts winding down that mess, the Army will do nothing. It’s too late for most of the long term troops, at this point, after 5 years of constant rotation. Many are probably beyond help. The Army should be investing in recognizing those that are being affected and getting them help now and the VA should be funded to handle the overflow of cases we will have to deal with when this is over. Are there any war vets in this administration that actually saw battle of any kind along the way? I doubt it, since no one seems to realize what a tragic mess they are making of what is left of our wonderful military. The mistreatment of our troops should be a war crime in itself.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Unbelievable

    The issue is multi-fold. First, because of multiple deployments you have more soldiers than ever who are burn out on the job Second, you have more soldiers than ever who are losing their families because of those same deployments. Third, you have moral at a low because of the first two reasons and because soldiers are afraid of the lack of care they will receive if they are physically injured. Fourth, the military has always been inadequate on the mental health care that they provide their soldiers. Fifth, because of the recruiting issues we face, along with the death and injuries to our soldiers (more than a Division's worth in injuries – please note that you hardly ever hear of the number of soldiers injured, just the number killed) we do not have adequate leadership in our NCO ranks. Don't get me wrong, we have some wonderful NCOs in our Army, however, we have many who have been promoted too quickly and are not adequately trained to lead and deal with the issues that face them.

    What does the Army do? The leaders in the Army grow some balls and tell the President, Sec Def, Congress and the American people the truth – that the Army is no longer Combat Ready, it is strained well beyond its resources, and we need to get out of Iraq yesterday to replenish our Army so that we once again will have the best trained and equipped Army in the world.

    Dan – Denver (former Army Officer)

    January 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm |
  9. Bill Quarryville, PA

    Bring the soldiers home where they belong.

    January 31, 2008 at 2:56 pm |
  10. Francis Xanthias

    Jack, it is important to note that suicide per se is a psychological problem, and therefore requires a psychological remedy. I think the soldiers have to undergo serious mental screening to identify their state of mind. Many of these soldiers are traumatized considering all the atrocities surrounding them. It is incumbent on the leadership to find ways of approaching the issues. It’s not just about winning the war rhetoric but also making sure that the left over personnel are sane when the war is over. How can we invest billions of dollars in the production of arsenals, yet we can put in enough resource to ensure the safety of those who will be using those ammunitions?

    Francis Macomb, IL

    January 31, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  11. Rose

    Jack,
    These back to back tours of fifteen months back to back must stop. These brave men and woman cannot continue spending so many months in a war zone. They will become like our VietNam Vets, homeless and suffering mental illness. I say start bringing them home. No offense to John McCain. The American people have made it clear, they want our troops home.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  12. Eric

    Suicide is a last resort for someone who feels trapped in an untenable situation and can see nothing better happening in the future. Knowing the specific date when they will be able to return to the U.S. to see their friends and loved ones gives soldiers in stressful overseas posts something to look forward to, to help them get through what is often a very demanding job . With the constant threat that their tours might be extended at any time, without notice, it is no surprise when some begin to worry they might never get home.

    Eric,
    Toronto

    January 31, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  13. JoAnn in Iowa

    End this stupid war!! And then provide mental health services for all who have served and to their families for as long as they need it. It'll be expensive, but it is our duty and another thing Bush didn't consider when he started his war.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  14. Bob

    Nothing. They should be able to tough it out like the rest of us.

    ...and that seems to be the military's current approach to soldiers who ask for psychological help.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  15. Ralph from New York

    Jack, as long as our troops are continued to be sent to and remain in quagmires such as Iraq with no end in sight, and our boys will continue to lose hope, I don't see the rate falling any time soon. Only a change in our administration, combined with honest actions to remove our presence will stop the suicide rate.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  16. JR Salazar

    Take all the people who are on the brink out of the Army, send all of them off on honorable discharge, and go the way of the Japanese and build only a Self-Defense force. Problem solved! Ah-hah!

    January 31, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  17. Rex, veteran in Portland

    The abuse of military personnel by this administration is unforgivable, unconscionable, and immoral.

    Contrary to the claims of the would-be presidents and the well-healed spokespersons for Bush, not ALL soldiers (sailors, marines, airmen) are heroes. They are real life people like you and me who have made some effort to serve their country. They have been asked to kill and maim innocents and to destroy worlds for unjust causes. Such is not the true nature of real life people like you and me, and going against that nature causes severe mental conflicts.

    The Army, if possible, should change its Commader-in-Chief. That would certainly decrease the future trauma of its soldiers. Since that is not possible I suggest the Army sit Bush down and preach to him the facts of life. Since that isn't going to happen either, I suggest that the administration re-evaluate its do-nothing Veterans' Administration and get rid of the chaff. Since that won't happen this year either, perhaps those afflicted soldiers should just follow the advice of Dr. Phil and 'suck it up'.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  18. Charles Liken

    The answer to this one is so simple the brilliant minds in Washington fail to grasp it. Bring the troops home!

    January 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  19. Karen

    Appoint a wise, well-spoken psychiatrist to head up the VA, and make a seat for one on the Joint Chiefs. The whole country, as well as the military, needs help understanding mental illness not as weakness, but as a common response to feeling overwhelmed by emotions you've never learned how to manage. No situation arouses more intense emotions than being in a war. No subgroup of our population is less apt to know how to manage rage and grief than soldiers. With courage, the Army could lead the country to a new level of compassion for mental health issues.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  20. Patricia

    There isn't anything the Army can do about this Jack. These soldiers have just been told that President of the United States is planning to keep them in Iraq & they've just been told that Sen. John McCain will try & find a way to keep them in Iraq for 100yrs & if possible find a way to go into Iran & keep troops there for as long as 100yrs, if Sen. McCain becomes President. If I were a soldier & I knew that the President of the United States & his party's candidates valued my life so little that they were ready to sacrifice me, I'd find a way to get out, even if it meant ending my life. I don't know about the rest of ya'll, but, I don't think a barrel of oil is worth my friend's children's lives.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  21. doug

    get out of iraq. the brass has said for over a year the military is exhausted and not enough replacements. the sad part is mccain the republican front runner wants to stay in iraq for maybe 100 years. it is long overdue for a timetable or let the republicans bring back the draft.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:37 pm |
  22. George

    Jack,

    JUST BRING THEM HOME JACK. Just bring them home.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  23. Tom

    The Congress should impeach Bush and Cheney for starting an unprovoked war. Congress should bring all the troops home now. We have trained military and police forces of other countries in the United States before. We could do it again. We are paying for excellent training bases in this country. Bring the Iraq recruits to this country. They would be out of the bad influences in Iraq. We could supply them with needed equipment and when they are ready we could send them home well equipped. This removes our forces from the stress that is present with service in Iraq.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:42 pm |
  24. gary h.

    jack we have the best men and women serveing this great country of ours, fighting a ruthless battle in iroq. its a disgrace they do not get the medical services they deserve. our leader ship in this country needs to wake up. gary indiana

    January 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm |
  25. Joe in DE

    Clearly enuciate the need for another 150,000 combat troops. End rotaions back to combat areas in less than 3 years.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  26. Fran Omaha, Ne

    They might try doing some preventative maintenance of their soldiers like the do on their equipment. The military has thousands of manuals on how to fix equipment but they don't have a manual on how to fix a soldiers mental ability or how to recognize when a solider is in trouble. Part of that is the invincible mentality that the military drills into them. The general consensus in the military is that mental issues are a sign of weakness so most soldiers will not come forward for fear of being ostracized. Then the problem sits and brews until they take their own life because at that juncture it seems the only way out for them. A mental issue in the military is a death sentence to a military career and either way the end result is the same to the solider.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  27. Joy

    We talk about waterboarding being torture, what the hell does Bush think he's doing to our troops? They're exhausted, they see blood and guts every day, 24/7. Some of these men have been deployed three and four times. That's torture in my book. The mind and body cannot tolorate this brutal treatment and stress. Screw McCain, we need to get our troops home so they can live is some sort of sanity, get some rest, get medical help, be with their families. Who cares about a white flag, we did what we were sent over there for, now it's time to think of our armed forces, keeping their minds and bodies whole, that is if isn't too late, and we wonder why the suicide rate is up? Listen America, we're given signs every day, pay attention, it's time for the troops to come home!!!!!!

    January 31, 2008 at 3:48 pm |
  28. joe m

    these young men and women are doing something many of us don't have the guts to do. they deserve nothing but the very best in medical, financial, and other support while they are away and when they return. we pay people who play sports, people who supposedly entertain us, and others who barely govern so much money and provide them with the very best. I say turn things around and make sure that it is these soldiers and their families who received these top benefits. They, among all of us, really deserve to have the most support from this country.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:49 pm |
  29. Patrick from York, PA

    Jack, war is hell. Yet, the Bush administration's foreign policy of war-mongering doesn't seem to have a true appreciation for American life or treasure. Maybe that's because at the end of the day, it doesn't affect them. If we had a non-interventionist foreign policy as Ron Paul suggests, this wouldn't even be an issue. But since it is, let me say this: anything and everything should be done to comfort and aid our soldiers no matter the cost, it's the least we can do.

    January 31, 2008 at 3:57 pm |
  30. Kevin ,FL

    LEAVE IRAQ ! and give these soilders a well payed job, free health care , tax free services, and housing, upon there return home!

    January 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  31. Sharon

    We all need to realize this country has asked too much of our enlisted personnel and their families. Our forces have been stretched too thin, they've been asked to sacrifice too much, and there is no end in sight. At the same time, the rest of us have pretty much been oblivious to their sacrifices. We need to put together a strategy for pulling out of Iraq in a responsible fashion and focus on bringing Afganistan to closure. If we aren't careful, this country will fall into the same trap the Soviet Union did when they became bogged down with wars in this very same region.

    As far as specifics for the Army, they should do whatever they can to increase troop levels, and to communicate the necessity for more personnel directly to the American people so we can all put pressure on our elected officials.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:01 pm |
  32. Dennis

    There is not much that they can do. There are many side affects to war many of which are never considered until it is way to late. Not to mention the fact that many of the side affectes will be affecting us for a very long time to come and perhaps even more will begin to emerge as time passes. Old men in retirement homes live with the mental torment of wars past. Whole lifetimes pass without any signifigant mental healing. The American public is becoming enlightened to these kind of situations which strengthens the argument that perhaps they were better left in the dark. Big Brother has to do many dishonorable things to provide us all with shelter and food. The common man should never be all the wiser to what it takes to make things happen. The half assed truth that we've all started to recognize is what is stearing us into the situation that we are in. Who told all these people that they do not live in fanatsy land? Now look what you've gone and started. Even our hero's are turning into cowards.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  33. Jenny from New York

    The Army should declare victory and bring our troops home!

    January 31, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  34. Adam G

    Being deployed to a combat zone where the possibility is imminent of maimed or killed by booby traps and suicide bombs contributes to job stress? Wow! Who would have guessed that?

    What's next? Depressed people with guns may use those guns on themselves? Is there a Pentagon study to determine whether or not standing in the rain gets people wet?

    When will the Pentagon finally figure out that war, no matter how just, inflicts unimaginable trauma on the human psyche? Here's a clue: War is ...

    January 31, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  35. Greg from PA

    Bringing our troops home as quickly and as safely as possible would be a good start. And in the name of good mental health for all America, we should send George Bush, his administration and Congress to Iraq to fight in their stead.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:13 pm |
  36. Art Callesoe

    After 7 pularizing years of George Bush, do we really want a Democratic polarizing president like Hillary Clinton?
    Barack Obama has shown he can attract not only Democrats but also independents and some Republicans

    January 31, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  37. Kevin J. O'Brien, from SoCal

    Jack,

    From a differing perspective, if we are not going to be able to simply pull out of the Middle East, no matter what side of the issue you are on we should consider the following:

    The numbers are staggering, but, look into the same numbers for the same issues during Viet Nam and Korea (percentage wise, probably very close) and remember that very few troops were sent overseas more than once. We are using more Guard and Reserves, not Active Duty troops than we have since WWII.

    As a Viet Nam Era and Desert Storm Vet, I would venture a guess that the time spent in adverse conditions is adding to the strain on our Armed Forces. We may not be able to "cut and run", but we are able to put a better rotation strategy together. We need to Lead better and Manage less.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:15 pm |
  38. Mary Kish

    Jack,this is an easy question,bring the boys home,let them feel safe from bombs and killings...get them good mental health care ...It must feel helpless being so far from home with all the violence going on around them...and knowing that not only will you not be going home soon...but that if you do get to go home...they will only put you back on a plane and send you back to do it all over again...They give our boys six weeks basic and a gun and say good luck...think we should do the same to the Iraq forces..It's time that they stand up for their own country..because if we are waiting for Iraq's politicians to get it together...you only have to look at ours to see that it ain't going to happen soon.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:17 pm |
  39. Ed Reed

    Our Army and Marines are under stress and it shows. Divorce rates are up too. They are undermanned and overdeployed. One tour in Iraq is enough. Five is too many to ask of anyone, except they are not asked. Our Commander-in-Chief orders them back. Less than 1% of Americans are fighting this war. The rest place magnetic stickers on their cars claiming they support the troops, but really worry more about the price of gas. The President has certainly gotten us into a heck of a mess.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:20 pm |
  40. DavidB

    Thank you Mr. Cafferty, it is a debate like this that really does support the troops. For all who really care about our tropps (Many Candain Indians are in the Marines and have suppored the US since the American Revolution) please Google Vietnam suicide rates. The number that will arise from this thoughtless War will surpass even those sad numbers. Jack it is also estimated that long term health care will exceed more than one Trillion dollars, please ask Wolf to ask all canidates where the money is going to come from? Does Washington care we would like to think so, but if Walter Ried was an indication and stories of many vets not getting support from former employers is true, nthen, may heaven help these brave men and women beause the US congress sure won't .

    January 31, 2008 at 4:21 pm |
  41. James V

    The army shouldn't do anything, it's not their job. It is the job of the Congress and the president to ensure that conflict is avoided at all costs, and that we only engage in war when our national security is threatened. The terrible nature of war is something that the American people have yet to fully grasp, and, with the exception of Ron Paul, all of our presidential candidates want to continue the intervention and suffering. In order to help our many soldiers who are suffering, we must end this war and stop the trend of foreign intervention that has become so common in America.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:22 pm |
  42. Jonathan Wolf

    If the army wasn't subjected to a pointless war without end, perhaps these soldiers wouldn't be putting a bullet in their mouths. What the Bush administration sees is only the number of casualties that have died from actual fire, not those who have taken their own lives because of the emotional toll on them and their families.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  43. Ralph

    You can't keep sending these guys back over and over again. It's almost criminal. It isn't just combat veterans who suffer, but the nightmares so on for years for support troops often. Because you are not a combat veteran you feel ashamed, are belittled by the VA, and all but called a coward and refused help. By the time they help you you are too old and your life a goner.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  44. Mike

    Outsource the U.S. troops in Iraq to the U.S.
    Outsource "The Bush" and the Bush administrations to Iraq
    Outsource the total costs for the Veterans' health and welfare to Mitt Romney

    January 31, 2008 at 4:23 pm |
  45. Dale Hill

    During Bush's SOTN speech, there was a partly standing ovation when Bush mentioned the fact that our deaths were done. It made me sick. I can just imagine the parents that lost their children, throwing up, when Congress stood up and clapping, for those ONLY, killed. They should have had a moment of silence for the ones killed. One is too many.

    Dale – Oklahoma

    January 31, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  46. Pearl

    I would like to hear they are going to turn the country around so we can breathe a sigh of relief and able to live again. No personal attacks please.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:24 pm |
  47. Hubert Bertrand

    I like most of the comments.I'm ret. (USAF) I think they should give them a lot more money and not break their promise to the troops when they come back, Treat then like politicians like to be treated, They did all the work , not Bush. Their family should be better taken care of, It is hard to be in war and have to worry about your wife and (KIDS).

    January 31, 2008 at 4:26 pm |
  48. Eugene in NorCal

    Jack, I can tell you from experience that the Army and the entire military needs a complete overhaul, when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. The skyrocketing suicide rate is a direct result, of a draconian system that encourages soldiers, to hide their problems. Solidiers with mental issues are considered weak and kicked out of the service, with a diagnosis of "personality disorder". The soldiers committing suicide are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) but can't ask for help, in a draconian system that is more than willing, to intentionally misdiagnosis them, with personality disorder. You see Jack, the Army doesn't pay disability benefits, for this illness but they do for PTSD, and it's all in the money. I've been dealing with these SOB's, since my return from Viet Nam.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:29 pm |
  49. illdn2007

    Since, the suicidal rates were lower before Bush made them go and start wars, then the answer seems apparent. Stop all ongoing millitary actions and suicides woould sharply diminish!

    January 31, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  50. Ro

    They give us their all, yet we cannot give them medical care they need? Shame!! Get them out of Iraq and give them the professional help they require, NOW.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  51. Thomas, FL

    It would be a good start to stop sending them into wars that we don't need to be in.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:33 pm |
  52. john

    Not that our government would ever fudge the numbers, but there seems to be a direct correlation between less surge related combat deaths and an increased number of suicide deaths.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:38 pm |
  53. George Wilson

    The fact that you are asking this question tells me that it is not being done now. How in the world can we ask out troops to risk their lives without giving them some kind of safety net if they start having problems? I thought that this was being addressed once the news broke about our squalid hospitals that our troops were housed in. Shame on this administration for not at least making some kind of attempt to do more to help, than to just try to cover up all bad news. Any veteran, or sanyone now serving should make the largest "stink", and force this bunch of "USERS", and "ABUSERS" to take care of our troops first. THere I've said it, and I am glad that I said it. Anyone who doesn't agree should also be ashamed of not only of the administration, but for themselves, and just pray that it never happens to them, or their loved ones..

    January 31, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  54. Ruth McInerney

    What SHOULD they do? That's pretty evident.
    What WILL they do? Unfortunately, that's pretty evident, too.

    Ruth in Alabama

    January 31, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  55. Greg from PA

    I saw a guy slit his wrists in boot camp back in 1972. War is an insane Hell. We must try to avoid it at all costs, but when it is thrust upon us, then, and ONLY then, do we give them Hell right back. Get it done and bring them home.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  56. Fred

    This is the result of a war that has no merit and no justification. Remember that this war was launched on the basis of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Fabrications and distortions cannot serve as continuing convincing tools of having moral reasons to this war. There were no weapons of mass destruction and Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11. Also, the main objective of the so called "surge" was not met. It is pathetic to see the war loving people brag about war success for a country that spends more than 500 Billion Dollars on its annual military budget in controlling a backward third world country with rife illiteracy and poverty, and which has no army to defend itself. They call one of these war loving people a war hero for being a prisoner of war.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  57. Amber of North Carolina

    What should the Army do about the sharp rate in the suicide rates of soldiers?
    I have a suggestion. How about the government keep its promises? Promising a 12 month tour and bumping it up to 15? Taking them out of war zones, a huge relief for them, and turning around and throwing them right back in? Exactly.
    Its the government failure to keep its promises that puts such a burden on our troops.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  58. Paulette Bent

    Jack,it is a well known fact that the highest suicide rate is among young boys 19 to 24 years of age. So much is going on in their lives at that period of time and many of them become depressed. Put any person already being overwhelmed in the middle of a war zone. I have recently heard that the sign up bonus for the infantry is $40,000.00. To a young kid this is a lot of money. They just don't realize the strain they will be living under every day for a long period of time. Our government is taking advantage of our youth so a few people can add money to their already huge accounts. Bring our boys home! Save American lives and taxpayers money. Charity begins at home.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  59. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    There have been suicides in every war in our history. When you send someone out to kill another human being for God knows what reason it is going to affect a soldier in some way. Everyone in combat has seen horrific and sub-human things that they want to forget,but can't. The problem now is that the soldiers keep being sent back over and over in a war without end. When I was in during Vietnam,you only had to serve one tour and that was it. You had to volunteer to go back. A human being can only take so much.

    January 31, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  60. annie

    We send these young men and women half way around the world into incredibly hostile and unfamiliar environments, train them to be cold blooded killers, then tell them basically to get over it without any help upon their return. And the do-nothing ppliticans who make these unpopular decisions in the first place wind up with excellent health care and pension benefits, What's wrong with this picture?

    January 31, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  61. Kyle

    For God's sake it will just get worse. The soldiers are donating their own money to Ron Paul because they want nothing more to come home. They know that the war isn't right and they are begging the people to get them out of hell. BRING THEM HOME!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  62. DavidJ

    Bring them home. Now.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  63. Nicole

    Bring them home.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  64. Filipino monkey

    Vote Dem to come home.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  65. Chris

    BRING THE TROOPS HOME!!!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  66. Richard A. Payne

    Jack, that is the easiest question you have ever asked. The answer is simple, bring our troops home!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  67. Tom

    The troops need LESS tours of duty. If Bush and McCain want to extend this war,
    then they need the hutzpah to bring this country into the party with them......bring back the draft and then see how soon this war ends.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  68. Jessica

    I think they should bulk up counseling services here in the bases at home and especially in the field. Seeing battle and all the blood and gore that comes with it can't be easy so someone should be there for them even after they come home. If we value our freedom to complain about even the most trival stuff that will never really matter we should do everything to protect the men and women who are over there making sure we can live in this wonderfull country and continue to unappreciative of how lucky we are.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  69. Park

    Well Jack, if the Republicans in Congress would stop vetoing every troop withdrawal bill maybe the troops would finally see some hope of making it home.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  70. Ellie

    Jack, I believe the question should be "why is there such a sharp rise in the suicide rate of soldiers." Maybe it is because they know that they are in a war that they can not win, a war they never should have been in in the first place. They see little kids crawling around the streets and country with thier limbs blown off, their homes blown to peices, there fellow soldiers killed and maimed before thier eyes.For God's sake Jack,they are in the Middle East. Islam has been at war with Isreal and each other since the beginning of time. The problem is in the heart of the people and you are not going to chance that with war. So bring our soldiers home and have them secure OUR borders and Our Ports and defend the US like they signed on to do in the first place. You see people get really desperate when they have no hope.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  71. Jeffery

    as a former solider they need to stop pushing that you can not talk about what happens to you while you are in Iraq trust me on this it happens because it happened to mysylf and my whole unit while we where there in 2005-2006

    January 31, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  72. Mike G

    Discontinue a war that serves no purpose but to physically and mentally harm America's youth?

    January 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  73. Rhi

    What the Army should do or what the Army will do? The VA can't handle what it has now, there is a shortage of Mental Health Providers as it is and it does not look like it is going to get better anytime soon. They can lower the deployments back to 12 months or even less. Mandate the dwell time and do a better job of knowing who has gone and who has not gone and give those that have never gone a chance before my husband is given the opportunity to go for a FOURTH time. Thats what the Army can do.
    HOOAH

    January 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  74. Evan, FL

    What needs to be done is simple; Congress and the Army need to step up and battle the rising issue of soldiers with PTSD. I have watched many hearings on this and have seen no further effort from the Government to step in and set up some sort of mental health rehabilitation programs for our troops.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  75. Chase

    Here's a good idea... withdraw from Iraq. It's an unecessary war which should never have happened in the first place.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  76. Margie McDonnell

    If we're not careful who we elect as President, before it's over, WE will be responsible for more soldier deaths through suicide than the terrorists and insurgents have through enemy action. What a travesty.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  77. Jim Blevins

    Get out of Iraq. Much of the problem has to be that the soldiers know that they are doing more harm than good. It would be bad enough if the soldiers believed that what they were doing was right and good. Knowing the opposite has to take the job into the lowest reaches of hell.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  78. Donald, Butte Montana

    The over-stretching of back-to-back tours into both theaters has WORN out these soldiers.

    Not only from the constant brutality they've been exposed to, the 24 hour a day stress of possible death from IEDs, but the irrational continuance of these conflicts.

    And now last week I saw on CNN where the Foreign Minister of Iraqi stated that by Jul 08 their forces (sic?) will be in a position to take over; therefore, US forces will be retricted to stay inside their bases UNLESS their assitance is requested!!!!!

    How the hell are our so-called Commanders going to contain over 130,000+ combat soldiers and support personnel on their bases without some some serious repercussions.

    You DO NOT have thousands of combat soldiers idly sitting around waiting on the Iraqi to request their assistance. That's is totally stupid, a waste of money, and further proof large-scale combat forces can be withdrawn within the next few months.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  79. Melina from Philadelphia, PA

    The best thing to do is to GET THEM OUT OF IRAQ ASAP!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  80. James Martin

    Remember Vietnam? Our government and even our people have not learned to provide proper aftercare for vets coming home from battle. Till we do, suicides will continue to be a problem.

    You'd think that Vietnam would have taught us all something about how to treat vets. It unfortunately hasn't.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  81. Tony

    There's a simple solution to that.
    Pull out!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  82. Brad

    What the army should do about the situation is unclear. However, they should NOT attempt to raise awareness of suicide. Multiple studies have been done about suicide awareness programs and the studies show that awareness actually increases the rate of suicides. By talking about it more and more some soldiers may actually begin to believe that suicide is a viable option. God knows we don't want to lose any more soldiers especially by their own respective hands.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  83. Julio

    The obvious answer would be to pull out, but thanks to an arrogant government, that seems to be out of the question. The only other choice would be to set up a stronger program to help these soldiers combat any psyche problems that may be developed

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  84. Kevin

    The solution is simple, support the troops not only on the battlefield but also off the battlefield. The troops need the services and opportunity to help them with the horrors and tragedies they have to deal with on an everyday basis.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  85. Anthony Fotia

    In 2007, 121 soldiers committed suicide.

    During 1990-1994, a total of 154,444 persons committed suicide in the United States; 23,734 (15%) suicides occurred in the Northeast, 34,492 (22%) in the Midwest, 38,709 (25%) in the West, and 57,509 (37%) in the South. When state-specific crude suicide rates for the U.S. were ranked by quartiles, the rates from 10 of the 13 western states ranked in the highest quartile. This pattern persisted after adjustments for age, race/Hispanic-ethnicity, and sex.

    The reason the number of suicides in the military is important news, is because it's another shot at the administration by the anti-war faction in this country. There are those who would not fight an enemy regardless of the consequences. They are called cowards.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  86. Andre

    The answer is simple Jack... bring the troops home! No one should be surprised that a nonsensical war like this would drive some over the edge. My condolence to the family of those army personnel who has taken their life after being exposed to an unnecessary war.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  87. Mark

    We need to cover these issues in the media! Look how much influence Lou Dobbs has had on immigration policy. You can do the same with any other issue, just cover it to death. Also,. If the powers that be had any personal connection whatsoever to these troops, they would have all the help they need, including the best body armor and mental health services available to man.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  88. Adam (23, Seattle, Wa)

    Send more of the specially-trained stress dogs to battle-stressed soldiers.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  89. Mark Kitson

    The answer is far from simple. All combat troops face stresses and situations that no one that hasn't been there can imagine. All troops coming home from any combat situation needs and deserves extensive counseling, adjustment assistance, and for those leaving the military, job placement assistance. REAL assistance, not the programs that are supposedly in place now. This assistance needs to include their families. Families should also be counseled while their loved ones are away at war. They need to understand what is happening and what to expect! Money for this should be no issue. These men and women deserve everything we can do for them!

    Semper Fi!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  90. Bob Milhaus

    Jack-
    We should all wake up from this Bush inspired nightmare, and bring the troops home, and then give each and every one of them the love, and support they do desperately need and so richly deserve
    3 tours of duty in as many years is an open invitation to suicide. If I had to go in each year and try to clean up the same old mess our Government has made out of the Middle East, I'm sure I'd be tempted to shoot myself just to stop the insanity
    Let's stop the National insanity and declare victory and get out. Our troops deserve nothing short of our total support and protection from the insane fantasies of Bush and McCain. Bush should be jailed, and McCain shipped off to the Nursing Home where he belongs.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:13 pm |
  91. Daniel in KY

    Jack lets make it simple..Give the troops something to live for....!st – End da friggin war.....2nd – Tell em they won the war, and Three...if one of the countries try this crap again we send troops back in to kick their behind again....It aint over till americans sings

    January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  92. James

    Jack,
    What ever is necessary.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  93. Klaus Kraemer

    One full third of our soldiers require mental health treatment - I sincerely hope they get it. But what about the instigators of that war? Shouldn't they be afforded the same benefit?

    Klaus, CA

    January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  94. Carson

    Gee Jack, I donno.

    We send these poor kids back again and again into an overall "unwinable" situation and expect them to create miracles of victory while all of us sit in front of the Boob-Tube and argue the matter.

    If sending them back too many times results in enhanced suicide rates for these young ladies and gentlemen, perhaps we shouldn't be sending them back. Ya think?

    Thanks for addressing this issue.

    -Carson-

    January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  95. Zavi Stilson

    Maybe the Department of defense should look into lessening the number of months of service per tour and (like many currently suggest) maybe increase the army size which was foolishly butchered by Bill during his terms of service. There's also been a few rumors about the way the VA treats our veterans. That should be looked into and cleaned out quickly. That would reduce the stresses of our soldiers and assure them that they will be coming home to families and citizens with open arms.

    Z. Stilson
    California

    January 31, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  96. dick donnelly

    What should the US do to prevent suicides among soldiers in Iraq and back home. The answer seems to be simple, GET OUT of IRAQ.

    Dick in Augusta, Ga.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  97. Tom

    Bring them home, NOW !

    January 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  98. Paul Smith

    Only thing that will really work is to get the troops out of Iraq. For thousands of these young people, a strong, proactive VA outreach program could save many lives over the years to come. I hope something like that will be in place.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  99. Mike

    I think the Army should reduce the time spent in the combat zones from 14 to 15 months to 7 or 8 months like the Marines due. The army has enough people to support such a thing, if the marines can do it so can the army. I spent over 2 years in Iraq with 3 combat deployments and at the end of the day whatever they do its going to effect you and your family.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:15 pm |
  100. J. E. Tucker, Esq.

    "What should we do?" comes the question from the television screen. What should be done about the rise in suicides and attempted suicides we are now seeing in the army?

    The answer is so obvious that it often goes overlooked. Mental health care available for troops, especially those returning home, is rare and underfunded. Congress, in attempting to shore up funding for the war, screwed the troops over by cutting VA benefits about two years ago. Among things up on the chopping block? Funding for mental health services.

    War is hell, and will take its toll on even the mightiest hearts and most resolute spirits. We need to provide our servicemen and servicewomen with adequate mental health care at home and overseas. Though we live in an age of stop-lossing, we have to do something besides just pointing out at the battlefield with the command, "Back to the front lines!" They deserve far more for their already too-great sacrifices.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  101. Abel P. Ochoa

    Simple, our US Military needs to leave Iraq immediately. We had no business invading Iraq in the first place. I think that our troops are killing themselves at an alarming rate because they feel guilty regarding what their Commander-In-Chief is forcing them to do. To be in Iraq illegally.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  102. Rick

    Jack, simple answer, stop the war and let these great troops have a damn cold bottle of beer so they can relax!

    Rick in NJ

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  103. Lourdes Lopez

    It doesn't take a genius to see where this is going. Unless the government wants another Vietnam, it's time they realize that changes need to be made, not tomorrow, not next week, but now. Shorten the tours of duty, stop sending the same people over and over again. Seeing the brutality of war once is enough; twice is a crime.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  104. Merle

    1. Stop denial of the issue, at all levels;
    2. Provide training for all military personnel to help soldiers recognize the problem, not hide from it or feel ashamed, and provide positive intervention.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  105. Pat

    This war should be stopped – that would end any more of our soldiers becoming statistics of the Bush war. Of course that doesn't help all of our children or the families of those children who have already committed suicide....

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  106. Frank Malette

    Jack,
    The Pentagon has studied this since WWII and knows that a soldier cannot stay in front line combat for more than 260 days. In Iraq ther is nothing but front line combat, every day. If we won't end this stupid war we the people need to raise our voice loud enough to make them give-em a break and bring them home, to stay, when they hit that mark. PTSD, suicides and broken marriages are not the only outcomes. The legacy of this war and this abuse of our children will haunt us for decades.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm |
  107. David (Alabama)

    Jack,
    The only way to end these rising suicide rates is the to bring the troops home and to change the current ill-conceived notion that the U.S. has to always be the world's police. These soldiers have no hope right now after being lied to time and time again from the Bush administration - the exact reason we cannot allow McCain to be President. All McCain knows is war - heaven forbid he wins the Presidency. We'll never get out of Iraq. Voting for Clinton OR Obama will be the only way these soldiers have HOPE - that they will see their families again and that Americans DO care about them.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  108. Jones

    What we should do is reduce the extent of combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan,
    but to do that we need more "volunteers" to replace them. Providing more mental health treatment would also have a huge impact. It is a shame that we cannot provide our brothers and sisters in arms with the proper requirements for a stable
    life, Even in time of war.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  109. Jo-nate

    I think a lot of the people introduced into the military, especially in these small towns that I grew up in, are convinced that joining the military is the only way that them and their family are going to afford their college and or bills. So from the very beginning some people, not talking about everyone are going into the military not to serve the country but because they feel its the only way they can deal with money issues that the military promises to cover. These same people go to Iraq end up having to kill for their country then realizing that they have a feeling of being trapped in this vicious cycle after the moral and the thoughts was this really all worth it play out.

    Jo-nate, TN

    January 31, 2008 at 5:17 pm |
  110. Jose

    I believe that in reporting suicides the media should give the viewers a better perspective on the relationship of these Military suicides, directly related to the war ,as opposed to total sucides in society today, and in relation to past wars. I am not certain that the suicides are any worse today, in relation to this war as it was during Vietnam and in relation to society, as a whole. Perhaps the total number of suicides in society today is higher than in the past. Not doing this gives the wrong perception to viewers.

    Jose'

    January 31, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  111. Erin

    Everybody seems to think that this is a black and white situation. My husband is military and it's a different military now, then it was at one time. These soldiers are not equipt, to handle the stress that has been placed upon them. The tours have to be shortened, no going back tour after tour, and yes, there needs to be an end in sight. There a few that think this is a just war and we are all tired and want it to be over.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  112. Karen

    First of all, the answer to this is all too obvious. Bring them all home. Then, require treatment for all of them.
    No normal human psyche can endure the horror that these men and women face on a daily basis. I would bet that the real numbers are higher than reported. We need to also look at domestic violence issues of returning troops. One cannot perform duties required of war only to go back home and act like the spouse and/or parent they were before they left.
    We have years of social problems to come as a result of this war. The suicide rate is just the tip of the iceberg.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  113. Albert Peltekian

    We never had any business going into Iraq and we have no business staying there. All we have managed is destroying Iraq, killing over half-a-million Iraqis and sacrificed the lives of nearly 4,000 of our brave young men, in addition to tens of thousands of who have been maimed for life. All to satisfy the egos of the two demagogues sitting in the White House.
    The solution is simple: pull out the troops immediately and let the Iraqis manage their own fate – they can't do worse than what we are doing for them.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  114. Diane Benson

    Families that have experienced the drama and suffering experienced by those who have PTSD as a result of war would know that over-extensions exacerbate the problem. We should not, must not extend our troops' tour of duty! In addition, if we insist on being in this war, then others must step up to the plate and serve. Our only real recourse is to quite pushing military efforts to solve economic and diplomatic problems.

    I speak as a mother of a wounded warrior with our own experience (my son lost both his legs) and a close friend of his just lost his life in Iraq after being extended. I have met many burned out troops, met traumatized family and wounded, and heard horrific stories of job, benefits, and family loss. In addition there are still too many who do not receive adequate mental health care and/or family counseling and support. With all our intentions we have not managed to properly care for our brave.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  115. Vicky

    Bush has our brave men and women over there in a war that we don't belong in and you have to ask why they are commiting suicide. Bring our troops home3

    January 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  116. robin

    When they send these young people over there they leave their familes they work 18 hours a day have to work dont get to call their families because a 1000 minute phone card is only worth 1 hour of phone time. They leave small children knowing they aren't going to see their kids or wives for months. They don't get sleep they don't get time off. When you leave in December of 07 and know you wont be home until November of 08 without seeing them thats a long time for anyone. And President Bush talks about the poverty and he didn't give them their raise, how much does a solider get for being over there fighting for us? What does their family get?

    January 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm |
  117. michele hopkins

    Jack, I have been supporting my husband who is a Vietnam Veteran for 18 yrs. He suffers from PTSD and Depression. The Army has refused to acknowledge it has anything to do with his time in Vietnam. Our Congressman here in California has not been able to help us and Washington D.C. hasn't been able to help us. He finally got his pension with my help and God's help this year when he got cancer. I take him to a private doctor for his treatment. This is the 3rd time he has got cancer, and we haven't got any help from the Army. When I vote this year; I'm voting for Barack Obama. God help us if Hillary wins. Barack stands for change and hope, and I really believe he will change the system. By the way, I'm the only Precinct Captain here in my town of 25,000; and I've never been involved in a campaign before; and I'm 54, Mexican,Irish and Cherokee.

    Michele Hopkins
    Clearlake,California

    January 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  118. jesus hurtado

    Well first of all, im one of the many casualties that was able to make it out of Iraq, I was hit by schrapnel by a suicide car bomb, I really think that they need to reduce the deployment tours first, and get some more one on one counseling for the troops, or group therapy. It really help me, but we still need to do more in regards to this situation. One more thing is that George Bush can go to Iraq for a year and then he can tell us his personal opinion about Iraq, and then he can tell me why so many troops have PTSD, deppresion, or suicidal thoughts.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  119. Jeremy Smith

    Simple! Stop sending the same people to Iraq and Afghansistan. If we can't do that then we're in deep DoDo.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:20 pm |
  120. steven greer

    Hey,why not invest a fraction of the 72 million sent every day to Iraq toward a proactive mental health program upon return from Iraq. And we have the audacity to accuse other countries of crimes against humanity.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  121. John, Johnston, IA

    Jack,

    Suicides, like all of the thousands wounded, is one of the horrible costs of warfare. Any time members of our military have seen combat there has been an increase of those who are unable to return to normal everyday life following their tours of duty. When a man or woman spends months and even years in a combat situation their mind turns-off in many ways that have to do with the way a civilian handles a normal life. One would hope that after all of the many years that our military has been 'at it' that they would recognize this and provide soldiers with a period of 'decompression' as it were; an opportunity to allow them to renew their grasp on what resembles life to the rest of us. Why would anyone expect someone to be able to spend so much time in combat zones, the threat of injury and death their most common accomplices, and then simply tell them to 'Go home' when their tour is completed? The mind is simply not able to cope that way. For too long the military has been happy to embrace the practice of 'just tough it out'. Present conditions with our veterans should tell the military as well as anyone and everyone else that that sort of shortsightedness does not serve any longer.

    For the U.S. military to foresake their soldiers in such a fundamental way is criminal, and we all, every citizen of this nation that they have defended, should be embarassed and ashamed. The neglect of those with mental problems in the military and the poor way they have been treated is also a reflection of the way mental illness is treated in society in general. We need to face facts. We ask these men and women to risk their lives, kill, do unspeakable things in the name of our country we owe them a debt that cannot be paid with just dollars and cents. They deserve better, and we should see that they receive it.

    On a sidenote ... Jack, I love your book. Your frank assessment of our nation, imparticularly the political realm, are welcome words. Thank you.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  122. Jim

    The resposibility for this disaster lies squarely on George Bush and his hand selected generals he picked to support this wrong war at the wrong time in Iraq! It was the Bush administration who placed pressure on doctors in the military not to diagnose PTSD and other mental illnesses for our brave oldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; thereby preventing these individuals from receiving proper care. This whole thing smells of the dioxin exposure our military personnel in Vietnam sufferred and the illnesses and deaths that occurred before a so called liberal judge more or less "legislated from the bench" to get those personnel the treatment and benefits they deserved some twenty years after the fact. Until Bush's crnies in the military begin to stand up for their troups and refuse to stretch them so thin so often, nothing will change and suicides will only continue to rise!

    Jim
    Prosperity SC

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  123. Julia

    First off Jack, thank you for bringing attention to this. I have a cousin serving in the Marines, and while thank the lord he's not deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan right now, there's a chance that if this war does not end soon he could be. His wife gave birth last year to a baby girl, and I'm crying as I'm writing this, imagining her growing up without her father.
    Jack, the easiest answer to give you is that we need to push our government to keep its' promises to the people serving every day making sure their country is safe. We also need to press Mr. Bush and the rest of the people currently in office to bring the troops home. NOW.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  124. Len in Clarkston

    Jack, I saw this happen before. So did a lot of us. When you're surrounded by death and dismemberment the overwhelming sense of "inevitability" begins to take hold of the soul of these men and women. The overpowering belief that their time may be near turns otherwise strong people to a dark side from which there is no return. The only way to stop this is to eliminate the cause. The cost of war is never carried by those who instigate it...only those who have to live with it.

    Len – USMC 1967-1971

    January 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
  125. Ralph from New York

    Our troops endured the hell of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, to name just a few battlegrounds, with the clear end to defeat the Japanese Empire. After the first Gulf War our troops came home heroes. Now, we are sending our forces into a quagmire with no end in sight, and the only change is more are being sent and none removed - thank you, George Bush. Unless we see a change in our government, and our troops are removed from where they are wasted needlessly, there will be no end to the suicide among our yong men and women.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  126. Jack Pine

    Jack,
    This is an easy answer, get them out of that winless hellhole, bring them back to their friends and family and let them protect us on our soil. This is America and we want and need them here.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  127. Deb

    Jack, The Army needs to change their whole climate regarding PTSD and other mental health symptoms and issues. At present, soldiers consider it strictly taboo to mention anything of this sort. My own son even refused to speak with a chaplain when he returned from Iraq. Soldiers see admission of any kind of symptoms as weakness, which will be ridiculed by their peers and superiors. And of course – the Army needs to treat these young men! Thank you.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  128. John K., Illinois

    How to address the rising suicide rate?

    1. Bring those troops who have seen extensive combat or who have been injured, home now;
    2. Provide mental health treatment for every soldier who needs it at U.S. VA hospitals and clinics;
    3. Redeploy other U.S. troops who are still fit for duty into non-combat regions after 12 months of service in combat areas, and do not replace them with any military personnel in Iraq.
    But this plan may appear reasonable, never mind.
    Remember, in the Alice in Wonderland World, the sane man is crazy.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:23 pm |
  129. Viki

    Visit some of the VA. hospital's, clinics and homeless shelters, Is it any wonder the United States is in such a mess. We can't solve are own troubles, yet we think we can tell other country how they should live? Drugs, abuse, homeless, no jobs, sending all our money over sea's. DO YOU THINK THE WAR AND OUR DEBT GO HAND IN HAND? We are not doing the soldiers any justice, not getting the mental care they need when they return, take a pill, that should solve all our nightmares.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  130. Erin

    to be brief, our soliders have no business doing tour after tour. The lengths of tours need to be shortened and there only needs to be one, unless they volunteer. And of course, there needs to be and end to all of this. Most importantly, they must have counseling to deal with all of it and it needs to be pushed and not frowned upon.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  131. Jon Ingram

    Jack, I'm in the Reserves. I've seen what can happen to sailors' and soldiers' lives as a result of long deployments. The Army in particular sends soldiers on extremely long deployments. That, in my estimation is one of the primary reasons for higher mental and emotional distress among our men and women serving in the Army. The Army could go a long way toward alleviating this tragic up-tick in suicides and other emotional and mental problems by A. Enlarging the size of the Army to make the pool of deployable soldiers larger. B. Shortening the length of troop deployments to no more than 6 months per tour. C. Giving soldiers who come home at least a year or more of deferment before being deployed again. And, D. Using technology to give soldiers who are deployed an increased ability to stay in-touch with loved ones back home. Our troops need more telephone access and even video communication access using broadband. I think soldiers who are able to stay in contact with their loved ones back home are better able to deal with long-term family separation and the high stress of working in a combat zone.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  132. Anne

    Reinstate the draft, presumably to shorten the tours of those weary and stressed soldiers, and a by-product will be that this war will end fast! The very minute any apathetic and/or self-righteous citizens' and politicians' adult children are called up – we will experience a major backlash resulting in a swift end to this war. To anyone who argues "support our troops" I say, yes, "support our troops...bring them home!"

    January 31, 2008 at 5:27 pm |
  133. Blaire Borins

    Jack,
    The rising suicide rate among our troops is merely a reflection of the twisted moral justifications the White House offered up to us before this war. These young men and women are simply horrified of the grim reality of what is happening in Iraq. If Bush and his cohorts were forced to witness the consequences of their failed policies upfront, they would be driven to the same fate. The culprit here is an irresponsible war that has no rational or strategic ending which can benefit us in any way. The fact that it has the ability to scar our soldiers' minds because of it's sheer tragedy should be no surprise.

    -Blaire

    January 31, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  134. Paul

    Draft the two Bush girls, and all draft age children of Congress members. Maybe if the chickenhawks who got us into this mess had a personal stake in it, they would pay attention to what they have created.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:28 pm |
  135. debbie

    Jack could you forward this article on to John McCain. He apparently thinks our military is doing just swell and will be able to stay in Iraq for years and years and years..........

    January 31, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  136. Jim B. - NY

    The army needs to take immediate action, working with the administration to find a way to minimize tour times away from home and/or extended leave times for soldiers to return and spend time with their families. The american family is the fundamental building block of our society, jeopardizing that with the men and women who put themselves in harms way to protect our way of life is counterproductive.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  137. Ryan

    I'm a combat soldier who has been to Iraq once before and going back again. To say you are surprised that there is an increased rate of mental problems since the war has kicked off is like saying you are surprised there is an increase in gun shot wounds. Unfortunately mental wounds are equally a part of combat as gun shot wounds. I don't say this as a proponent of the war because I am not. I am, however, aware of what risks I face as someone who has chosen this career field. Just as the Army should treat physical battle wounds the Army should treat the mental ones. That said, some people may never be the same....such is the price of war.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:33 pm |
  138. Dean

    I work for the Department of Veterans Affairs and on a daily basis, witness first-hand the effects this war has caused. Suicide rates are rates are merely the tip of the iceberg. Both DOD and the VA have to push Congress and the President to reconsider the priorities. We spend billions of dollars every month in Iraq, yet Congress does not act with any sense of urgency to provide additional legislation to allow our Veterans to get the help they need.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  139. amber

    the army shouldnt do anything,it should fall on congress and since Hilary voted for the war she should have a solution.10billion amonth for 5 years it has hurt the families and the troops.4,000 LIVES lost and a wrecked economy;Hilary has 35 years in government and stiill made wrong vote backing the war!!!

    January 31, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
  140. jodraft needs to be instituted, make it universal

    The generals etc need to go to the President and congress and tell the truth. At present levels they can not continue. A

    January 31, 2008 at 5:38 pm |
  141. Jason

    35% are treated for mental issues. Thats too low. 100% should be treated. Everyone coming home should be evaluated and re-evaluated. That level of stress is enormous. Don't assume its ok unless they the soldier says something .

    January 31, 2008 at 5:39 pm |
  142. cathrine lynn, CA

    Why is the question "What should the army do?" Our military is already doing enough, for crying out loud. How about "What can our nation do?" Let me give some examples of what "our nation" can do to help the stress of these brave and dedicated men and women. When they need to find a job outside of the military, ASSURE THEY GET ONE, and can be appreciated for their service. Don't let payday loan sharks take advantage of them, when they and their families are trying to exist on minimal pay, outrageous housing costs and maximum extra expense for necessary military equipment. Adequately fund the V.A. so they can be taken care of physically and psychologically. When one of them "pop", especially those in Special Forces, do not allow the Police Departments (as happened in Seattle) to falsify and enhance reports, to keep them locked up longer, because they are deemed more dangerous because our nation trained them to be the elite in combat. And finally, the military (all branches) is awesome, in taking a regular Joe or Mary and turning them into absolutely amazing individuals, with a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. It would be wonderful if America, on a whole, would give them even a fraction of that respect. Caring – and tangibly showing it, can help a host of ills.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  143. virginia beckstead

    My son was serving in Baquba last year when he contemplated suicide. Rather than pull the trigger he sought help from his 1st Sgt. Who immediately medivac'd him back to the states. After months of exams and mediction and he was chaptered out on an article 513. Which states he had a personallity disorder before he entered the army and therefore he is discharged without any medical benefits. What my son has is PTSD from two back to back IED attacks that came close to taking his life and a run in with a sniper that he killed at 100 yards with a 50 cal machine gun. He was also running on roughly 2 hours of sleep per night for 14 nights. My sons case is typical. If the army says these soldiers have PTSD, then they have to treat them and that is not cost effective. So the army is not providing any type of help for these kids and are just sending them home on the 513 knowing full well that they suffer from PTSD and not personality disorders. It is shameful. My son after two months of talking out what happened and regular sleep was ready to go back into theater. But he was denied this by his superiors. My son is one of the lucky ones out there. He is able to work and sustain his life. But there are coutless others as your artlcle states who can't function and end up taking their life.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
  144. Larry

    If you ask me we are losing, we are losing our young people how many lives will it take to bring our troops home ? What have we gained? Where is the man that attacked our country? Bring our people home, to there families,friends maybe we will stop losing them.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:43 pm |
  145. JD

    The elective war in Iraq has degraded the military and undermined the United States economy. The reports concerning the human toll on military members, the inability of the armed forces to defend the country against a significant attack due to its extensive deployments, and the country's economic woes suggest that United States politicians have damaged the country in ways that Al Qaeda never could. The United States will continue to suffer for decades from the tremedous damage caused by the Iraq war in human, military, and economic terms. In the meantime, the United States needs a significant national program dedicated to treating the mental trauma suffered by its brave service members that allows the service members to seek treatment from any available source. The military and Veteran's Administration cannot hope to offer the services required by the vast population suffering from the mental effects of war.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  146. Danny Boy from New England

    Dear Jack ,
    American people need to voice their angry at the government and get them to changes. I think we need to give our men and women more aid after their time is over. It is disgrace this is how we treat our real lives heros, who allowed us to be free. We need change and I think it possible, if we get Obama. But at the sametime, it not as if we can leave over night.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
  147. Len Albuq New Mexico

    Jack,
    If you think that suicides are bad now, wait till these veterans come home. They will probably not have jobs to return to. Their homes will be in forclosure and they have a stack of bills that they don't know how to pay. Long lines at the VA hospitals to get treatment. It will be a mess. These soldiers are under a great amount of stress and will still be subjected to that when they return home. Even after bringing all the troops home, the fatalities will mount up for years to come. One can only imagine the conflict in the minds of these soldiers trying to justify all the death and destruction. We as Americans better embrace these returning soldiers and offer up everything we can to them. The Federal Government better make it Right for these soldiers. All of Congress and this Administration need to forfeit a great deal of their wealth to provide for them. Of course we know that Bush and Cheney will cut and run at that time.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:46 pm |
  148. jol

    The generals etc need to go to the President and congress and tell the truth. At present levels demanded they can not continue. A draft needs to be instituted. It needs to be universal with no deferrments other than mothers breastfeeding an under 2 yr old. and terminally ill. All others can be found positions including the Handicapped and prison inmates. Make it for all between 20 and 30 years old and for 2 years. Once the lawmakers sons and daughters are at risk suddenly "staying for 100 years" will not look as patriotic. Plus the apathetic citizens sitting at home ignoring this disaster will have a reason to get interested. In the end the call for Bring them home would be overwhelming.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:49 pm |
  149. Jennifer

    The men and women who serve in combat should no longer be burdned by the lack of understand of the political figurines in Washinton. Instead of worrying which Candidate to endorse they should be worrying about the state of mind of the men and women in uniform fighting for something with a lot of purpose and little recongnition.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  150. Richard Aldrich

    The family of anyone who has commited suicide within 5 years of their deployment should be treated as if they died in combat, moreover maybe there should be an extra amount paid out for the failure of the government to properly address the needs of the returning soldiers in the first place..
    As a vietnam era veteran I am absolutely apalled at the way our veterans are treated and especially by the administration that illadvisedly sent them into harms way – In fact maybe we should tack an amendment on the next appropriations bill requiring front line service to the sons and daughters of all who vote to go to war.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm |
  151. Brian R

    Elect Hillary so she can bring them home, safely.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  152. tco

    In December, 2007, the Washington Post reported on 1st Lt. Whiteside who tried to commit suicide and failed in the attempt. The military thinks her attempt was an excuse to cover criminal activity and thinks her defense is psychobabble. Her psychiatrist at Walter Reed says she needs help, not life in prison. ("A Soldier's Officer" by Dana Priest and Anne Hall.)

    Last year, a close friend returned from 2 tours in Iraq, covered in blisters and suffering from night terrors. The VA hospital told her it was all in her head and to buck up. It took the intervention of 2 Senators for the VA to take her case seriously. She considered suicide but is getting help on her own. She's lucky because she has the support of her family and friends. Not everyone is that lucky.

    Bush's War and the way his minions treat our troops are the reason why I'll be voting Democrat this year, the first time since 1972.

    January 31, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  153. Bill

    The military leadership in this country, up to and including our Commander in Chief need to realize that sending this country's young (and mostly volunteer) men and women to a far off country to fight in a very unpopular war is stressful on those volunteers and their families.

    Our next generation of leaders should not be off fighting a war on foreign soil when there is so much wrong with our own country. Instead of extending their individual terms of deployment, we should be reducing the length of stay (except for volunteers and the higher ranking military leadership), in the Middle East.

    Bring these troops home on a more frequent basis, with a minimum of let's say a full year before being considered eligible for re-deployment.

    The United States Military is a valuable national resource that is being wasted on a war that was commenced under false pretenses. Not that removing Saddam Hussein from power was not a good thing, but do we really need to inflict our Western influence on a nation whose people do not really want us there. OK, leave a few advisors there, but BRING THE TROOPS HOME!!!

    We should end this stupid war sooner than later, then come back home and rebuild our economic and social infrastructures to again become the great nation we once were.

    Bill
    Philadelphia

    January 31, 2008 at 5:59 pm |
  154. Nedda

    The US should realize that mental health is essential to our soldiers. We have men and women leaving their routine lives in the States to other places in the world and are told to hate a certain type of people because the government deems them dangerous. They have to plot to kill and murder other human beings, something that you are taught from childhood is morally WRONG. They have to go against everything they know, and most of them do it to support a college education! How is this not hypocrisy? And then the US turns around and does not make psychotherapy mandatory? How can our leaders think that is fair? Bush should go to Iraq today for even a day in a random soldier's shoes and then say he doesn't need someone to talk to. EVERYONE needs a therapist.

    January 31, 2008 at 6:06 pm |
  155. Tim Brookshaw

    The single greatest service we can perform for our troops is to define in simple terms that everybody can understand:
    1) What does victory look like?
    2) How will we know when we get there?

    If we are to send our troops into harm’s way, it is only fair that they (and we) know what they are fighting and dying for.

    If these two points cannot be stated simply and clearly, then maybe it’s time to bring the troops home – if we can’t tell them why they should fight and die, then we shouldn’t ask them to do so.

    January 31, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  156. Shayne

    We should do everything necessary to help those currently struggling, but we should also look to prevent these from happening in the future. The best way to do that is redeploy from Iraq. This is nonsense and it is taking a huge toll on this country. We should save our brave soldiers for wars that matter! I would like to ask anyone listening to honestly answer this question: How do we win a war on terrorism? My answer in "You can't!" By staying in Iraq we do more harm to ourselves. No matter how many soldiers we send or how long we stay there, terrorism will continue to reappear. Just because we patrol this country doesn't mean that a terrorist group isn't reforming halfway around the world. You can't beat them. It is the way they are raised and the best thing we can do is to bring our troops home so we can protect ourselves. It doesn't make much sense to protect a foreign country while our own is in such distress! We should focus on us first! Bring the troops home!

    January 31, 2008 at 6:11 pm |
  157. jerry

    we need to look at the treatment of our enlisted soldiers and how well we take care of them.

    As a current E7, I can tell you that the constant badgering and abuse of our troop is out of control.

    Some of our troops choose to stay enlisted but the local cmd's feel that they are demi gods and the average soldier is bullied into situations with strong arm tactics and the results are undo stresses. I am a full time Guard member and can tell you first hand of the situation stateside and how you are seperated and made to feel as if you are by your self in every fight or that you are less than a soldier if you don't comply with the demands of the senior enlisted, who are simply extentions of the cmd's whim.

    Soldiers need to be treated with at least the same respect as a prisoner or given the same legal rights. Who have more rights than the enlisted soldiers do.

    That is preached to us over and over again.

    January 31, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  158. KP

    It is no wonder that suicide rate is up dramatically in our military due to the bungled "management" of this war started with lies and deceit by the occupant of the white house who refuses to alter course despite the fact that there does not appear to be any plan except the "plan" of the moment (and this keeps changing). Remember, Bush declared victory in 5/2003 with the only result continued escalation of his war. billions of dollars are unaccounted for in Iraq yet the budget for the VA is cut–something wrong here?? Our military is subjected to repeated deployments with the length of each deployment being extended. Vietnam vets only served ONE tour not multiple! Our military is deprived of friends, family and placed in situations that no one should be subjected to. Iraq was not responsible for 911–the terrorists were from Saudi Arabi with whom Bush now wants to sell weapons to! The politicians who continue to cave into Bush to continue bush's war, the entire adminstration should all serve on the front lines shoulder to shoulder with our brave military! How many countries were once our allies only to earn the title of enemy later?

    January 31, 2008 at 6:17 pm |
  159. Tom Boyd

    I read every comment and they all seemed to agree except for one comment that implied that over 120 soldiers committing suicide in 2007 was no big deal. Then this commenter went on to say that being concerned about soldier suicides was just a ploy by the anti-war faction in this country "that wouldn't fight the enemy" and were cowards. So if one is concerned about the high suicide rate among the Iraq war veterans, he or she is a coward? I wonder if the person that voices this opinion has ever, ever served in either the military or combat. If not, I would say he is the coward, not to mention an insensitive person who clearly, clearly doesn't "support the troops." And even if this person had been or is in the military, then I am concerned for our armed services' sanity.

    January 31, 2008 at 6:18 pm |