Another One of Their Dirty Little Secrets

The administration/pentagon has a lot of guts saying that the anti-war majority isn’t supporting the troops. The reality is it is they who don’t support the troops. This story is the best I have read about this dirty little secret.

It seems that the pentagon received a congressional directive to provide mental health evaluations on ALL military personnel before being deployed to Iraq. But only one in 300 receives such an evaluation. Many are sent even though the military knows they have a history of mental health problems.

It’s a long article but I encourage you to read it all. Here are a few snipets to whet your curiousity.

Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring.And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.

These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military’s own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves – accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths.

But it gets even worse.

The spike in suicides among the all-volunteer force is a setback for military officials, who had pledged in late 2003 to improve mental health services, after expressing alarm that 11 soldiers and two Marines had killed themselves in Iraq in the first seven months of the war. When the number of suicides tumbled in 2004, top Army officials had credited their renewed prevention efforts.

But The Courant’s review found that since 2003, the military has increasingly sent, kept and recycled troubled troops into combat – practices that undercut its assurances of improvements. Besides causing suicides, experts say, gaps in mental health care can cause violence between soldiers, accidents and critical mistakes in judgment during combat operations.Military experts and advocates point to recruiting shortfalls and intense wartime pressure to maintain troop levels as reasons more service members with psychiatric problems are being deployed to the war zone and kept there.

And worse…

The military does not discuss or even identify individual suicide cases, which are grouped with other non-combat deaths. The Courant identified suicide victims through Army investigative reports and interviews with families.Although The Courant determined that a spate of six suicides occurred within eight weeks last year, from late May to July, there is no indication that the military took steps to respond to the cluster.

And worse…

Under the military’s pre-deployment screening process, troops with serious mental disorders are not being identified – and others whose mental illness is known are being deployed anyway. A law passed in 1997 requires the military to conduct an “assessment of mental health” on all deploying troops. But the “assessment” now being used is a single mental health question on a pre-deployment form filled out by service members.

And even worse…

The military relies increasingly on antidepressants, some with potentially dangerous side effects, to keep troops with known psychological problems in the war zone. In one case, a 26-year-old Marine who was having trouble sleeping was put on a strong dose of Zoloft, an SSRI that carries a warning urging doctors to closely monitor new patients for suicidal urges. Last April, within two months of starting the drug, the Marine killed himself in Iraq.

…Some service members who experienced depression or stress before or during deployments to Iraq described being placed on Zoloft, Wellbutrin and other antidepressants, with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Some of the drugs carry warnings of an increased risk of suicide, within the first weeks of their use.

“I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on SSRIs, when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a patient advocacy group. “You’re creating chemically activated time bombs.”

The army has hired “experts” to examine the problem and make recommendations.

Both advisory team reports recommended that soldiers with mental health problems be kept in the combat zone in order to improve return-to-duty rates and help soldiers avoid being labeled unfit.”If you take people out of their unit and send them home, they have the shame and the stigma,” said Ritchie, the Army’s mental health expert.

This is how the military takes care of its troops. It is a nightmare that many will carry for all of their lives if they don’t end their own lives first.

For those of you (us) who have been in the army, this is no surprise. The stupidity, ineptness and ignorance is timeless. In this case, the administration encourages these outrageous practices in order to keep a particular number of troops in Iraq.

This same REPUBLICAN administration now wants to deploy troops to guard the Mexican border. They also just approved a 70 billion dollar tax cut to the wealthy. Wonder why they didn’t use that money to help some of these troops instead. ….assholes.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Bush/Cheney, Indecency, Iraq, Military

13 Comments on “Another One of Their Dirty Little Secrets”

  1. ChrisWoznitza Says:

    Hi ich bin Chriswab aus Bottrop !! Viele Grüsse !!

  2. Praguetwin Says:

    Hey brian,

    Thanks for coming by my site. I’ve linked you up on my fellow bloggers list.

    Also, I really like your blog, and I think this post is a particularly good one.

    Keep up the good work!

    PT

  3. Left of Center Says:

    It’s our nations shame. Suicides with returning vets is high. And there is a new population of homeless vets.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    of course it’s all republicans, after all we have to blame someone right?

  5. OUTRAGEhttp://outrage2go.blogspot.com Says:

    YES!!
    MAN i JUST MADE A BLOG FOR MY
    OUTRAGE http://outrage2go.blogspot.com

    Man I really hate what is happening
    to Iraq and around the world..
    may you please comment in my blog.

    thanks a lot

  6. Kathy Says:

    To anonymous who said: “…of course it’s all republicans, after all we have to blame someone right?”

    Absolutely, there is no one else to blame. Bush and his group of neo-cons are responsible for every single drop of blood lost in this war based on a LIE.

  7. expatbrian Says:

    The sad truth is, our young veterans have become the real victims of the political wars. They have little recourse and are among the first to be disenfranchised in budget cuts…because we need the money to carry on the war. Yes, this is a REPUBLICAN issue. They disgust me.

  8. Libbyhttp://theimpolitic.blogspot.com Says:

    It’s reprehensible. It’s negligent homicide and as far as I’m concerned every one of thugs in the White House should be indicted for war crimes.

  9. The Ugly American Says:

    Could you please provide a link to actuall statistics proving this spike in suicides?

  10. That Damned Jezebelhttp://considertheboot.blogspot.com Says:

    Interesting. The source for the evaluation process though? My understanding is that the records are obtained from history, not necessarily an evaluation ordered on everyone.

  11. gasdocpol Says:

    Uh ……It seemed like a good idea at the time?

    Thank God GW Bush is our President?

    The lessons from 9/11 should have included the fact that rightly or wrongly 19 Arabs were so angry at the USA that they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to harm the USA.

    Does it make sense to invade an oil rich Arab country which had not attacked the USA and was no danger to the USA in order to prevent further terrorist attacks?


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