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Suicide now claims more US troops than enemy fire - Rate of almost 1 per day

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 29th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

American troops have a secret enemy who is killing them more frequently than the insurgents and terrorists they fight. According to the Department of Defense, soldier suicides now claim more victims than enemy fire.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In 2012, potential suicides among U.S. soldiers reached 303, while combat related deaths in Afghanistan have totaled 212. Some of the probable suicides remain unconfirmed and under investigation.

The suicide rate among active duty and reserves is so great that the average is now approaching one per day. That rate continues to increase, even as operations in Afghanistan prepare to draw down.

Suicides continue to occur even in spite of additional training and prevention programs implemented over the past few years to address the issue.

Part of the problem is that soldiers, especially those who have been deployed, face unique stresses, even beyond the threat of the enemy. While troops are deployed, they remain in close contact with loved ones and others back home sometimes this creates stress as opposed to buoying morale. These stresses, such as mortgages and bills, challenges with left-behind loved ones and more, are exacerbated by deployment and the individual's limited ability to influence what happens by virtue of their presence in a combat zone.

Substance abuse also plays a factor, with some soldiers turning to drugs and alcohol to cope.

New legislation is in the works will require that soldiers found to be mentally unstable to tell if they own personal firearms. However, this is a single band-aid type solution and will not do much to curb the overall problem.

Some of these weapons have been used by soldiers to commit crimes, even at home. The number of recent veterans who face criminal charges and even prison for violent crimes has also risen.

Ironically, the Department of Defense has announced that in 2011, 53 percent of the confirmed suicide victims had no history of deployment to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

While the military continues to address the issue, society must face a much broader concern. When children are trained to serve as killers to protect our interests both home and abroad, we create casualties that are not simply measured by flag-draped caskets and hospital beds. Some of the casualties continue to walk among us for years, even decades, after the last shots have been fired.

War is hell.

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