Tag Archive: 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?

Read more: http://nation.time.com/2012/08/16/grim-record-soldier-suicides-reach-new-high/#ixzz23keEkp1k

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.

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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….

Read more: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/07/12/captains-courageous/#ixzz20Q5hXftk

 

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 honestgoodadvice@gmail.com

 

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.
http://www.operationhugahero.org/

Or if you would like one of your own to send to a child you can visit the following link:
http://www.daddydolls.com/

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.
http://www.focusproject.org/focus-world-intro

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.
http://www.operationhelpahero.com/

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

http://www.operationhomefront.net/

http://www.operationgratitude.com/

http://troopssupport.com/

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 honestgoodadvice@gmail.com

Happy 4th to all of those who serve!!!

Earlier this week I was out getting coffee for a meeting at my workplace and I saw something that made me completely choke up! They have bags of coffee (Support from Home Blend) that you can buy and add a personal message to send out to our troops who are serving. I read quite a few of the messages some were a simple “Thank you” others were quite long and sweet. However, one really stood out for me. A 7-year-old had written “Thank you for saving our world”  That pretty much did me in! Here is a pic of just a small section of the stack of coffee donated by the generous people in Fountain Valley, CA:

If you would like to donate a bag here is the link:
http://www.coffeebean.com/Support-from-Home-Blend-P558C58.aspx?UserID=29423520&SessionID=5iHwnxm22vzF8mI10mip

A dollar from each bag will be donated to the Fisher House. (See website for more details)

Another store that is doing their part is Old Navy. You can buy a t-shirt or tank top and they will send one free to a service member for FREE!! Here is a pic of one of the shirts:
http://oldnavy.gap.com/browse/product.do?pid=752875022&tid=onfr1r

In honor of their contributions and dedication to defending our nation what better way to thank them by giving back!

Citizen Support (Scroll down to the bottom to see lists)
http://www.ourmilitary.mil/help.shtml

Adopt a military unit:
http://www.asa-usa.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AdoptaUnitInfo

If you know of a great website or store that is doing their part for our men and women who serve please feel free to post a comment below!

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