CNN reports on the grim story of a disproportionate number of Houston based army recruiters committing suicide. There have been four in the last three years.
"The United States Army Recruiting Command is deeply concerned by the instances of suicide within the Houston Recruiting Battalion," said a statement released by the Recruiting Command. "The board's objective will be to prevent future suicides, increase suicide awareness, analyze trends and highlight additional tools and resources to combat suicide within the Recruiting Command."
The Army's examination comes after a sergeant first class, a member of the Houston Recruiting Battalion and an Iraq combat veteran, killed himself at his home earlier this month.
It seems strange to me that recruiters would be particularly hit. Their work doesn't seem to be especially stressful. It begs a larger question: what is the suicide rate at large among service men and women and veterans of recent wars.
Due to the recurring deployments that have proven necessary to sustain operations in the Middle East, it is likely that a large majority of our recruiters are also veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The recruiter suicides come at a time when the total number of suicides in the Army's ranks has been growing, Army officials said. Through August there had been 93 active duty suicides in the Army.
Last year there were 115 active duty suicides, the highest for the Army since the Vietnam War, according to Army statistics.
Why do you think this would be happening? My first thought is that, not unlike Viet Nam, these engagements have become extremely unpopular. Perhaps that awareness has filtered through and has infected the troops themselves, like it did forty years ago. On the other hand, that may be too complicated a theory.
A simpler theory is this: the stresses associated with war are perhaps heightened by a number of factors. The continual fear of suicide bombers, although this did exist during Viet Nam, in recent years it's become a major concern. I guess we can thank the Israeli / Palestinian conflict for that. Another interesting thing I read is the number of battlefield casualties who live is at an all time high. This is due to improved medevac equipment and procedures. The result is a higher number of damaged individuals returning to society. I'll bet they make up a good percentage of the suicides.
What do you think? Part of my solution is to get out of Iraq, a war we never should have been involved in in the first place. I'd get our foreign combat activity down to a bare minimum. Isolationism might be preferable to the breath-taking costs of sustaining these wars.