Last year, up through November, more active-duty soldiers killed themselves than were killed in battle: 177 to 176, respectively.
One of the great difficulties of war is the post-service operation of reintegrating soldiers. Most return home to families that can’t fully grasp what they been through. The loneliness & the horrors of war stay with them, & for some, the emotions & memories never dissipate to a point that can be reconciled, & lived with. I’ve known people with PTSD, & each would say it’s a horrible thing to wake up with each morning. We cannot forget these people. If we turn away they will disappear down the rabbit holes of their own misery. It’s our responsibility to help them acclimate to the culture that is theirs, to find the mental & medical help they need, & to prevent any service person from taking from themselves what they put on the line in the name of duty. I am a big believer in personal freedom, which includes the right to die, but I also understand that certain pain, though it may not be remedied completely, can be controlled & cared for, & that one’s mental health might often depend on the willingness of those around to help.
Sometimes people are embarrassed by the idea of needing help. I know because I’m one of them. It’s never a good lesson to learn the hard way. Sometimes it takes another person to take the first step & start the process. I’d encourage anyone who knows a soldier having difficulty adjusting to contact the Defense Center of Excellence (for Psychological Health & TBI Issues) at: http://www.dcoe.health.mil/Families/Help.aspx. They’re available 24/7, & have information ready for anyone who calls, from family members to educators. There is also of course our military’s suicide prevention hotline (1-800-273-TALK) who may be of assistance.
I hope 2013 is a better year for all of us.