For Every U.S. Soldier Killed On Battlefield This Year, 25 Veterans Die By Own Hands

Chapmans CoffinThis scandalous statistic is revealed by Nicholas D. Kristof in an op-ed for the New York Times:

Here’s a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands.

An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began.

These unnoticed killing fields are places like New Middletown, Ohio, where Cheryl DeBow raised two sons, Michael and Ryan Yurchison, and saw them depart for Iraq. Michael, then 22, signed up soon after the 9/11 attacks.

“I can’t just sit back and do nothing,” he told his mom. Two years later, Ryan followed his beloved older brother to the Army.

When Michael was discharged, DeBow picked him up at the airport — and was staggered. “When he got off the plane and I picked him up, it was like he was an empty shell,” she told me. “His body was shaking.” Michael began drinking and abusing drugs, his mother says, and he terrified her by buying the same kind of gun he had carried in Iraq. “He said he slept with his gun over there, and he needed it here,” she recalls.

Then Ryan returned home in 2007, and he too began to show signs of severe strain. He couldn’t sleep, abused drugs and alcohol, and suffered extreme jitters.

“He was so anxious, he couldn’t stand to sit next to you and hear you breathe,” DeBow remembers. A talented filmmaker, Ryan turned the lens on himself to record heartbreaking video of his own sleeplessness, his own irrational behavior — even his own mock suicide…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • DeepCough

    “Decimation of own soldiers in War real, real stupid.” ~Sun Tzu

  • MoralDrift

    The problem with this article and the whole debate is that it centers around PTSD and TBI, which is the new buzzword. The real issue is the culture of the military, the nature of the “war” and the frequency of deployments. PTSD and TBI are all caused by frequent deployments onto an asymmetric battlefield where outright death is less of a concern than close calls and constant suspicion. 

    Not to mention that when soldiers return to society, they find a world that is beyond alien to their experiences and in all truth, absolutely callous and careless about them. American society is already virtually insane, throw a flag on your sleeve and become a member of the murder machine and it’s anyone’s guess if your psyche can handle the pressure.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    too bad the chicken-hawks that send these slaves to war
    don’t get the same psychological effects
    mass suicides by politicians would be far more beneficial to America
    than the killing of Osama Bin Psyoped

  • Eric_D_Read

    The realization that the same people who sold you on honor, duty, and service to your country chewed you up, spit you out, and played you for a fool to further their own ends must be a tough burden to drag around every day.

  • JaceD

    But war is human nature!

    Oh wait, no it’s not.

    • Bungle

      Yes it is!

      oh wait, no it’s not.

      • Linear Inequality

        Well, war is actually _animal_ nature. Ants and chimps also go to war over territory and control of resources.

        The only thing that’s stopped war, so far, is democracy and capitalism. As R.J. Rummel has established, capitalist democracies don’t go to war with each other.

        • JaceD

          Unfortunately we don’t share a hive mind like ants and chimps seem to have a more functional society than humans. Current humans aren’t designed to fight wars, if we were we would be much more barbaric than we are. I agree that in the past it would have been natural (one tribe fighting another for the best hunting areas, the most furtile land to sow seeds etc) But it is by far unnatural now.

          Democracy and capitalism has stopped war..? Really..? Capitalism is a junky who needs more opiates, democracy is his mind telling him there’s nothing wrong.

  • Dirk

    OR the hands of their squadmates… Not all suicides are un-assisted.