Category: Military

Grim Record: Soldier Suicides Reach New High

By Mark Thompson | @MarkThompson_DC | August 16, 2012 | 13

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

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A record number of soldiers – 38 – are suspected of killing themselves in July, the Pentagon said Thursday. It marks a startling jump in the suicide epidemic that has been frustrating Army leaders for years.

The total included 26 active-duty soldiers – under the Army’s control 24/7 — also an apparent record, and a 117% jump from June’s count of 12 active-duty suicides.

(MORE: This Isn’t Funny…)

The Army has been fighting suicides when they were occurring at the rate of nearly one a day – in fact, that was the cover line on a Time story last month into the vexing problem of soldiers killing themselves after a decade of war. But July’s 38 likely suicides spread over the month’s 31 days works out to almost 1.25 suicides a day.

The toll was 58% higher than June’s 24 suspected suicides, and is roughly 50% more than the average monthly suicide count experienced over the past 18 months.

Military suicide data has only been kept diligently in recent years; non-active duty suicides have only been tracked for about five years. So that makes historical comparisons difficult. But the numbers are the highest since 9/11, and several experts believe they mark an all-time high. “The number 26 [of active-duty suicides] is the highest single month we’ve had since 2001,” Bruce Shahbaz, a medical analyst on the Army’s Suicide Prevention Task Force, told Time Thursday morning. “The combined total [38] of both active and reserve is the highest we’ve had since 2001.”

Army experts come up empty-handed when trying to account for the surge, although they are noting a shift among suicide victims. “This is the first time since 2001 where we’ve seen non-commissioned officer deaths outnumbering junior enlisted deaths,” Shahbaz says. He and other Army suicide experts have what he concedes is a  “very counter-intuitive” explanation.

While the number of Army suicides each month makes for a jagged line, the trend is clearly upward.

They suggest this is happening as the NCOs — more likely to be married, and in the Army for the long haul, than younger troops — begin spending more time at home between deployments. “If you’re on the constant 12-month treadmill of deploy, reset, get ready to redeploy, deploy, soldiers and families don’t work hard to try to reintegrate, because they know that their soldier is going to be gone again,” Shahbaz says. “Issues like minor depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances – those things that are kind of related to post-traumatic stress – begin to surface after a service member has been home for more than a year, and start to reintegrate with their family…I liken it to a pot that’s on simmer – having that person stay back home and reintegrate with their family sometimes allows that pot to boil over.”

Retired Army colonel Elspeth Ritchie, once the service’s top psychiatrist and a key warrior fighting Army suicides, fears the toll won’t abate any time soon. “One of the risk factors for suicide is getting in trouble at work,” says Ritchie, now a Battleland contributor. “As the Army downsizes, the getting in trouble may translate into more soldiers facing discharge and possible unemployment,” she says. “Another risk factor is trouble with relationships. After a decade of war, going from having a spouse away most of the time — to being at home all the time — actually may make things worse. Especially if the spouse is underemployed.”

(COVER STORY: The War on Suicide?)

Those fighting the battle from outside the Army remain dissatisfied in light of the latest suicide count. “Soldiers and their families are falling apart under the pressures, expectations, injuries and illnesses of years of war,” says Kim Ruocoo, who runs the suicide outreach program at the non-profit Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. “We should expect our troops to need psychological care after all we have asked of them, yet there is still a sense that asking for help is a weak thing and should be avoided. As a result soldiers are waiting until they are very sick before they go for help and very often the response is not quick enough or comprehensive enough.”

Retired general Peter Chiarelli, who until January was the Army’s No. officer and top suicide fighter, remained frustrated in a recent interview. “Our suicide rate has doubled since 2001, and it’s obvious that deployments and stress on the force plays a role in this –- there’s no doubt about it,” he says. “The doubling of our suicide rate coincided with our fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s got to be a contributor.”

But it’s bigger than that, he believes. Mental-health problems have never gotten the study – and the resulting research funding – given to cancer and heart disease, he says. “We’ve under-invested in this area for so goddam long, and one of the reasons is because of the stigma associated with it,” Chiarelli says. “No one wants to admit that Uncle Al killed himself.”

MORE: Why Are There So Many Military Suicides?

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Hello Everyone!

I apologize for being behind I have  tad bit going on over here lol. Anyway, I wanted to share with you that I will be on a podcast with a dear friend Daniel Garza called Put It Together a podcast that interviews with various people and their lives and spiritual journeys. The podcast will be up tomorrow August 1st. Daniel interviewed me about my thoughts about military life, it’s challenges, it’s benefits and how to survive the lifestyle. I have to apologize now, my pups made a few appearances 😉 so if you hear paws clicking in the background those are just my fur babies =) If you would like to listen in you can go here:

*If you have  question or would like to submit a topic please email me at



Here is the link to today’s show

I have been dating this man off and on for around 3 years. I am absolutely in love with him, and I know he loves me dearly too. We were there for each other when no else was there for us. He is an amazing boyfriend and treats me very well. I love him, and it is now getting to the point where we are considering marriage.

He has already bought the ring after 6 months of us talking. I feel like he might be uncertain about a lot of things, but I do not really have the time to wait because I want to go into the military so they will help me pay for law school. I do not want to pressure him or give him an ultimatum because I love him and want him to do it on his own, but he is still lingering on our differences in religion (this is the reason why we have broke up, but we worked it out and now he bringing it up again), and he is always saying he wants to get married, but he is always creating another excuse like money issues or other problems. I do not think he is ready, but I cannot stick around waiting for him to propose.

My family and friends say he will feel differently once I am in the military, but at the same time I do not think it is fair that I accept his proposal because he wants me to himself the whole year we are apart before we can marry. Do not get me wrong, I love him with all of my heart, but I cannot help but feel like he will propose just cause he does not want me to meet other guys.

I am meeting with my recruiter in about a week and going to MEPS for my physical examination. In a couple of days afterwards I will either pick a job and swear in or I will be in DEP for some time. What do you guys think I should do? I am not going to tell him when I swear in, but do you think I should tell him that when I swear in there will not be that option to be with me anymore? I hate doing that, and I do not want to seem like the awful girlfriend that does this to her boyfriend, but I think that he believes that he can have me whenever he feels like which is wrong. Once again, he is a very good boyfriend. I am not trying to make him look like a villain, and I am not trying to make myself look like one either, but he does not seem like he is ready for the next step really, and I have to move on with my life. It will be very hard, but I want to do something awesome with my life.

And please, mature comments only.


Sometimes we let our fear of being alone get the best of us or potentially the fear of the unknown which leaves us uncertain about our future. If joining the military is something that you feel is right for you and will provide you with a positive experience then go for it. I have to forewarn you however that (am a military wife) joining the military just to receive educational benefits in my opinion is not enough. It sounds peachy and all but at the end of the day you become government property, you potentially could see the dark side of humanity, the political bs of the world first hand, and will be putting yourself at harms way. I would recommend speaking with a few more people who are serving or have once served and ask them what their experiences have been like- some are so bad they don’t talk about it at all. As for your boyfriend if he loves you he will wait for you and vice versa. I don’t think it wise to rush something if one of you is unsure. If you feel that you need to focus on your life then do so. If something is meant to be it will be. However, you should not sacrifice your life to wait for someone else to make up their mind. If anything move forward, without dishonesty and tell him what you are planning on doing with in regards to signing up for the military. You shouldn’t keep information from the ones you love, a relationship should be based on honesty regardless of fear of outcome. If you aren’t ready then tell him that. Speak from your heart, if you end up taking a break all is not lost. It may provide you both the space, time, and clarity to really think about what you want in your lives as well as in a partner. And there is nothing wrong with really thinking about what you want and taking your time. However if you wish to take the time to yourself he should respect that as should you for him if he needs more time to really think about his life. Don’t stress so much on the timeline of things, but more so on the path that you are taking.

The two soldiers couldn’t have been more different. One was young and handsome enough to be known as “Captain Brad Pitt,” a 2007 West Point graduate trained to deliver ordnance from the Army’s most terrifying flying machine, an AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship. The other was a decade older, a bomb-squad grunt who high school friends had dubbed “Buzzard” because of his pronounced Adam’s apple. In mid-career he shifted gears to become an officer and graduate from the Pentagon’s medical school, where he trained to deliver babies.

While they never met, they had some things in common. Both were Army captains, engaged in important work for the nation, their costly educations paid for by U.S. taxpayers. Ian Morrison, 26, returned to Fort Hood, Texas, last December after nine months flying 70 combat missions over Iraq. Dr. Michael McCaddon, 37, was an ob-gyn resident at Hawaii’s Tripler Army Medical Center. The pilot and the doctor shared one other thing: they found themselves in a darkening, soul-sucking funnel that has trapped some 2,500 military personnel since 9/11. Like them, each died, at his own hand, on March 21, nearly 4,000 miles apart.

Nancy Gibbs and I tell their stories in TIME this week through the eyes of their widows, Leslie McCaddon and Rebecca Morrison. Although the pair of Army captains ended up at the same place, they got there in different ways. Morrison‘s depression rose like a sudden squall after he came back from Iraq, and, in the three days before he died, vainly sought help six times from the Army. McCaddon‘s gloom had been growing for seven years, but he tried to hide it for fear it would ruin his career. His wife asked for help from an Army that told her that his depression was homegrown and not really its problem.

(MORE: Military Suicides: Help for Families Worried About Their Service Member)

These are always tough stories to report and write, which may explain why they are so rare.

The Army declined to discuss the two cases. The Pentagon said this week, once again, that there are no easy answers. “Unfortunately, there are not well established and clearly effective interventions to prevent suicides – in general or specifically in a military population during wartime,” Tuesday’s report says. “The findings should be and are deeply concerning to military, medical, and political leaders at the highest levels of the U.S. government.”

We make clear in the story that the military….

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Unfortunately, I see it a lot more often than I wish I could admit to it. Young men and women signing their lives away to a the military. You are told that you will make a difference in the world {you will or at least you will try}. You are told that you should stand up and be proud of your country and be willing to fight for it. {You will and very few will follow in your footsteps.} You will try and do what is right…and you might not be recognized for your efforts unless you literally give your life, a limb, or any other body part(s). As honorable as this may sound you probably won’t receive the recognition nor the support that you derseve. It’s sad, it’s pathetic, and in many ways it’s wrong. But unfortunately it’s the truth. The positions themselves are glorified and turned into a symbolism of self sacrafice and honor. But again, you’ll have to give up your life or a body part to receive that regocnition. So does that make you brave? Or maybe absolutely insane that you would run into the gun fire instead of away from it? I do not envy those that serve, I freely admit that I would never be brave, nor “crazy” enough to run towards danger. I have the utmost respect for what the positions themselves stand for. I will say however how sad I find it as of late how many young people are deliusioned by the meaning of what thier actually signing up for. You get to see the world….you get to do your part, you get to be a hero….{you will get your ass kicked, your brain will be completely scrambled so that you can function in times of high stress..but this is not guaranteed, you will be “voluntold” to do things, you will work your ass of off and get paid less than minimum wage, you will return to “normal” civilian life without any structure and be expected to function like everyone else, etc (yes there is more…)}. I think what is crazy is that you have people joining at such a young and impressionable age. For the life of me I cannot imagine trying to function with stressors that most of us cannot imagine, regardless of age. We put so much pressure and burden them with the safety of a nation and that of their fellow military members. One wrong move and you could kill someone…literally. Supposedly, there are many times where fellow military personnel are shot by thier own members by accident…ironically they refer to this as “friendly fire” It’s amazing the terminology that is used to “soften” the harsh reality of each situation. I would ask that if you do decide or want to join the military ask someone who is already in, ask their friends and family about how this person has changed and how this new way of life has affected them and the person serving. I am not knocking those that serve. Again it takes a lot of courage to do what many of us cannot. But I believe a lot of times those that serve or intend to serve  do not have the full picture of what this life entails. You give your life away to serve someone else’s purpose. You will be told that it is for the greater good, it might be or it just might be fulfill someone else’s political agenda. This life might be perfect for you, it might not. Just know that there is always more to every story and don’t be afraid to do your research.

*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at


I had an experience within the last few years that was rather traumatic. In 2010 while my husband was deployed I had a cervical cancer scare. And was also told there was a high chance I would not be able to get pregnant on my own. (Since childhood I have been taking steroids for my asthma so this has always caused issues with my cycle). On top of all of this my parents were traveling through China to teach English when my step father suffered a stroke. (Let me tell you in less than a 24 hour period this is a lot of information to process at once.) My step father was able to return to the US and receive the medical care that he desperately needed and is doing quite well today (thank goodness). As for my experience it was a bit different. I was told that I needed to have a biopsy completed to clear out any potential of cancerous tissue. I had never had a biopsy so this was a bit scary and overwhelming at the time. During the procedure I will admit it was uncomfortable and painful. Not to be overly graphic but it literally felt like I had scrapped the crap out of my lady parts. It’s an odd thing to suddenly realize what touches what inside your body when you walk, sit, etc… Anyway, the point of this extremely personal post is I want to make others aware of the knowledge that has come to light for me within the last few months. After having the biopsy completed I was sent home and told to wait for the results. The results were “clean” of cancer but that I was not out of the woods yet.  I needed to come back every 3 months for a year to be examined. I did this…fearful of what they might find each time. The doctor had told me before we started the regular screens that I had a choice. I could either see if my body would fight off the infection or they could freeze it. I choose to let my body do whatever it could before we went with the frost option. Luckily for me I was able to fight off the infection and have been in the clear for almost 3 years now. However, in the middle of all of this I learned something very valuable. And that is, you should always get a second opinion. The same doctor who preformed the biopsy also decided to change my birth control 3 times in less than a year! The last set of pills being the worst option- my hormones were  so out of whack someone could say “hello” and smile at me and I would want to hurt them. (This is by far not the normal, cheerful, and happy go-lucky self , I and everyone else for that matter was used too) So at this point I decided I needed someone new and a second opinion. I found a doctor and was informed the following:

-The suggested visits for a cancer screening pap smear is every 6 months. If you still test clean after one year you can return to your regular schedule of screen annually.

50% of the population is infected with the virus that can cause cervical cancer- that’s pretty freaking scary! Men who carry it show no symptoms and have no cancer related illness, only women are at risk.


What I also realized:
– Birth control options are in abundance. If something is working just fine…don’t change it. And if your doctor suggests you switch methods ask why and if you don’t want to it’s ok to say no. Your body, your homones, your choice.

-That I probably can get pregnant on my own, I’ve been on birth control since my mid-teen years to help regulate my cycle. This means tons of homorones being pumped into my system for over 15 years! I have a feeling if I were to give my body ample time to cycle out I will be ok. And if not, my husband and I have no quams about adopting. 🙂

-Sadly, not all health practioners are not honest and looking out for thier patients best interest. I realized the first doctor that I saw was only in it to bill the insurance company and help new drugs get onto the market.

-Lastly, you can do something about it. You can file a complaint against the doctor with your state medical board. If you are unsure on how to do this you can always use a search engine and there should be a government funded website to provide steps to take action.

*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at

Military & Marriage

I’m 17, my boyfriend is 18. It’s set in stone…we want to get married. One big problem? How to break this to my parents. I think his probably won’t care for the idea too much, but I have a feeling mine will handle it badly. We are waiting until I’m 18 to break the news, that way nothing can be done on their part. How should we tell them? Also, he is in the Army. I have considered signing a two year contract with the Navy to help pay for my schooling, as I want to be an RN. If we are married, will we be able to live together with me in the Navy and him in the Army? I’ve also considered the Air Force… all answers are appreciated. Thanks!  Also, we have considered this very carefully. His benefits are part of the reason we are getting married. My parents want me out of the house when I’m 18, but they won’t like the idea of marriage. He and I agree that divorce will never be in question. We don’t believe in it.


If you sign up for any military branch you won’t have the option to decide when and where you will be living. You sign your life away to the government and they will send you where you are needed. It is my understanding that the Air Force can be a little bit more flexible when it comes to these things but that has only been what I have been told, so not 100% sure. What I can tell you is that the divorce rate is extremely high within the military (regardless of branch) because most of those who are enlisted are young and also going through a lot of traumatic and life changing events. I understand that you are in love and I understand their are health coverage benefits as well as financial in marrying someone in the military. However, there is a lot more than just goes into that. Marriage isn’t always easy in it’s own right but then adding on long periods of separation, emotional and psychological stressors, it can be very difficult. I would honestly wait until he or you have both been in for a while to get adjusted to military life or until you have gone through school. (They need medical aid for the military as well so you could offer your services once you graduate)  If you are planning on joining a military branch you will receive benefits as well and don’t need to rely on him for coverage. It’s your life however if I were you I would highly recommend letting this play out until things are settled a bit more.

*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email me at

I just need some advice and I don’t want to talk to family and friends about this until I know what’s going on and I can’t talk to my husband cuz he’s the one that did it. Me and my husband have been together for over 5 years and married for over 2. I saw texts on my his phone on Friday from girls. After looking into it, I found out they are girls he met on dating sites that he created. He was talking to them about sex, saying he wanted friendship and a relationship, sending pics back and forth, asking for half-naked pics of them, talking about hanging out and getting together soon, not mentioning me or our 10 month old son, and a bunch of **** like that. I confronted him about it right away. He said he had no intentions of doing anything and he doesn’t know why he was doing it. Well, he’s in the army and he did all this while he was at work from his phone. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. He’s done similar stuff a lot. A week before we got married, he was talking to girls on MySpace about being friends with benefits and yes I found out and still married him. Then, he did it twice while I was pregnant through dating sites again and texting. He then deployed when our son was a month old. A week after deploying he was going to dating sites again and talking to girls on yahoo. He got back in November. 3 months ago he was sending emails out to the personal ads on Craigslist. So he was basically sending emails out to hookers. And now this. I know I have forgave him far too much. I just don’t know what to do. It’s basically like he had intentions of cheating but I caught him before he could cheat. And it’s hilarious that after I caught him this time, I was asking questions that I already knew the answers too and he lied about every one of them. Me and him have talked since then and he just says he doesn’t know why he gets doing it and that he’s a piece of **** and was actually crying which never happens. And I told him a good start to fixing this if possible would be to change his number.He doesn’t want to, he says it too big of pain to give everyone at work the new number.I just need some advice. I’m so confused, pissed, upset, disgusted, and scared.
And I don’t have a problem leaving. As soon as I found out I told him I want a divorce. It’s not like if I leave I’ll have nothing. I would easily be able to start a life on my own.
It sounds like you husband has issues with committment and a sex addiction. You need to remove yourself from this relationship as well as the child. If he is sleeping with other women he is putting you at risk for STDs. And the safety of your baby is compromised if he does this while he is watching the child while you are out. You need to tell him that he needs to seek counsel. I understand this will be difficult given the stigmata with the military to admit that you have a problem and getting treatment. (I am a military wife as well) If you are ok with moving on then this needs to happen sooner than later. I would also suggest that you seek counsel. It isn’t healthy that you held on for this long and it would help you in the future from repeating the same mistake.
*If you have a question or would like to submit a topic please email at

I need some advice on how to deal with this and my friends’ advice has, in general been pretty poor and unhelpful. I just need a different perspective to sort my head out.

I’m 18 and I’m living with my parents until I leave for University, this summer, so only a few more months until I’m gone, I want to sort this out quickly.I’ve been dating an Officer in the forces for the past year and a half. She’s 8 years older than I am, and we’re really happy, things are getting slightly more serious, we’re moving in together as the Uni I am attending is near her base. I hadn’t moved in previously because the College I attend is closer to my home, about an 1 hour and 15 mins from my house, it’s about 2 hours away from her base.

She proposed to me about a month ago. I was nervous at first- getting married young, but I’m much more confident about that now. Why wait any longer? Age is a number.

But my parents have been kicking up a massive fuss. I want my parents to like my girlfriend, but they really hate the age gap. (Which I find a bit rich as there’s a 6 year age gap between my parents.)
They want us to finish, completely break up, and for me to “focus on University”.

Several of my friends have said the “Why not move out” and one of them even agreed. But I refuse to be the teenager who says “My life, my choice” and leaves. I spent ages not talking to my parents when I was younger and I learned from my mistakes. I don’t want to fall out with them. I want their blessing. I want them to come to my wedding. I *need* them to support this.

I want some advice on how to deal with this. I am *not* going to end this with her.

Also, my Grandparents have been kept in the dark about my relationship. I have no idea how to break this to them and then ask if they’d come to my wedding. They’re very old-fashioned and religious.

Ugh. My head is all over the place. I really have no idea who to ask!

I don’t know the full story and back ground of your relationship but I think you both are moving too fast. If you really do love this girl I would compromise with your parents. Tell them that you understand their concern and are taking it into consideration. Promise them that you are willing to go to and complete college, keep your grades up, and in exchange you will move in with your girlfriend with the condition that you will live together for a minimum of 2 years before you will proceed with marrying this girl. If your girl truly loves you she will wait it out. Living with someone is a major life change and a big adjustment. But it will also show you both if it’s truly a good match. Good luck!
*If you have a question of topic please email me at

Help A Hero

Well it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything military related…sometimes when we live it on a daily basis we prefer to blog or talk about everything else! And sadly, as of late there have been a lot of negative stories specifically about the Marine Corps. The thing is that these people are young and put in situations that most wouldn’t be able to handle. I am not excusing their actions…but most of these men and women are only 17-22 years of age. Think back to your teenage/young adulthood memories and I can assure you bad decisions were made. Only difference is most likely your life or someone else’s wasn’t on the line. I honestly can’t imagine that kind of pressure at that age.

Anyway, I’ve had a few people reach out to me in regards to wanting to know how they can help support the troops and the families of those that serve. I want to remind people, yes I am a military wife…that does not mean that myself nor my husband or all those that do serve agree with the political bs that comes with war and being a military member. These people sacrifice their lives, their sanity, time with their family/friends and many times their young adulthood to serve and protect us. I know that I could never have the courage to do such a brave thing, but I do support those that are willing to give their lives for our freedom. You can support those that serve without supporting the war nor the politics involved. So here are just a few of the resources available:

Parents & Children Links:

Daddy/Mommy Dolls- for children while their loved ones are deployed. My sister-in-law used these for her kids and said they were wonderful. This is a non-profit that you can make donations to which will in turn provide the dolls to kids in need.

Or if you would like one of your own to send to a child you can visit the following link:

An online interactive website that can be used by parents and children as a tool to help develop skills on how to deal with deployments of loved ones.

Helping Heros & Loved Ones Links:

This is a wonderful charity that provides numerous support on all levels from the home front to overseas. They dabble in a bit of everything if you would like to know more click on their  “How We Help” tab at the top of their home page.

Other great websites that provide a multitude of options and ways to show your support:

If there are more sites that I might have missed please feel free to add them in the comments below! And thank you for supporting our troops! 🙂

*If you have a topic of question please email me at

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