I just listened to the National Public Radio story about the federal suicide prevention hotline for veterans. Faced with a growing suicide rate of veterans and active duty personnel, President Obama called for increasing the telephone support available. we were losing more active duty troops to suicide than the number being killed in combat.
When I visit the VA the signs are everywhere promoting the hotline. Veterans are encouraged to Call the Veterans Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255 and Press 1) or chat online. Suicide has emerged as a greater threat to our military than terrorism as people weary from repeated deployments and family stresses take their own lives.
In a very real way this can be seen as blowback from the global war on terror which includes the longest war in American history. I know that the blowhards in the Bush administration who championed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars never gave a second thought about the impact of these wars on the troops and their families. They were brazen in their ability to ignore cries from across the globe to stop the wars before they began.
And now, after 4 years, these are President Obama’s wars. We have the low grade occupation in Iraq with so-called advisers and then there is the increasingly unpopular Afghanistan War that he thought that he could win. He too ignored the maxim of never fighting a land war in Asia. (The night shift arrives and the calls keep coming)
I think about the despair that must have carved holes in dozens of lives from returning combat veterans who were horrified by what they had done and witnessed. The upcoming battle over the nomination process for the secretary of defense will provide another opportunity for those who seek to continue the bloodbath to voice their opinions. They will say that the president must be prepared to back up the feverish rhetoric on Iran with the very real threat of launching an attack on people who pose no threat to Americans. And the secretary of defense must share that same passion for war.
At work last night in the mental hospital I heard Bob Dylan’s song Blowin in the Wind. There were those chilling words “too many people have died” referencing the wars we had fought up to that time. And yet a new generation has come and the wars keep coming and so do the calls to the suicide line.
The center piece of the NPR story was that the night shift had arrived and began taking calls but the real center piece is the failure of American foreign policy to negotiate, understand people in other countries and the limits of our ability to impose our way of life upon them. Those who suffer the consequences are the soldiers and their families. we can reduce the number of calls by ending the wars.
- Suicide Hotline Fights To Keep Vets And Troops Alive (wnyc.org)
- Veterans Administration Still Ignores Needs of Deaf Vets Considering Suicide (pattidudek.typepad.com)
- Military Suicide Report Shows Majority Non-Combat Related (offthebase.wordpress.com)
- Silent Night: Another American Suicide In Afghanistan (news.firedoglake.com)
- Sister of suicide victim says more resources are needed (ktvb.com)
- Nine Iraq, Afghanistan War Veterans To Join Congress (huffingtonpost.com)
- Governor General says even one soldier’s suicide is ‘too many’ (canada.com)
- Veterans Dealing With Suicide Crisis (wreg.com)