Suicide in our military ranks has become more common than any of us want to admit. The cause could be PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), depression, or failure to readjust to civilian life.
The fact is that suicide among our returning soldiers is occurring at a rate that is not acceptable to those of us in the US who have a high regard for our soldiers. We view these brave young men and women who are serving our country as heroes who are willing to keep our country strong by putting their own lives on the line.
It seems, however, that these brave individuals struggle with civilian life after returning home from one of the war zones. Seeing these soldiers’ unsuccessful attempts at returning to society, the US Army is attempting to find a cure for this erratic behavior. Some of its efforts have turned to various medical drugs, including a nasal spray that might help those soldiers fight the depression that drives them to thoughts of suicide. But are drugs the answer to the problem, or will they merely mask or exacerbate the condition? Are there other solutions available to assist our troops?
How Bad is the Suicide Rate for Returning Veterans?
Let’s look at the facts:
- In July of 2012, 38 soldiers took their own lives.
- Suicide is the number two reason for military deaths.
- In the first half of 2012, 116 military deaths have been attributed to suicide.
- Veteran soldiers are more likely to kill themselves than new recruits
What We Didn’t Learn from the War in Vietnam
Given these statistics, it should not come as a shock to any of us that there is such a high suicide rate among our troops.
Let me pause here to affirm that I am not a politically motivated person, so my views are mine and mine alone. However, I believe that the reason we study history is so that we will not make the same mistakes again and again. Unfortunately, this theory has not worked well for our country since we seem to fall into the same military predicaments over and over again. In fact, I recall thinking to myself when we started to bomb Iraq that I hoped we were not getting ourselves and our troops into another Vietnam situation. Having served during that time period, I truly believe that, in Vietnam, victory eluded us and was only seen as a necessary campaign in the minds of warmongers. I know I hoped that, when we elected to bomb Iraq, we wouldn’t find ourselves in the same predicament.
Unfortunately, it seems like we are seeing the same results, even though our current military is far better trained and armed than the troops who served in Vietnam. Sadly, however, one thing that doesn’t change from one war to the next is that the people we send into battle are the boys and girls who lived on our streets. They are our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. These same sweet kids are being taught to kill. No matter what your religious, political, military, or personal beliefs are, killing is killing and has a way of undermining the human spirit. Sadly, our innocent children aren’t prepared for the ravages that this does to their souls and, as a result, their psyche can be tortured to the point that they can’t handle the nightmares that were their reality when they were stationed in one of the war zones. So again I ask: Should a high suicide among our returning troops be a shock to any of us? I personally don’t believe that it should.
Medication or Meditation?
So how can we help them? Should our troops be provided with medication to blur their memories of that horrible time in their lives, or should they be encouraged to give meditation a try? In other words: Should we rely on heavy doses of dangerous medicines to control their suicidal behavior, or should we help them find God?
I am realistic enough to know that there is a balance that must be met, and that some of our troops will need medications and therapy to overcome their depression problems. For these troops, I believe that something like a nasal spray may be warranted. But for others, maybe a good dose of counseling, with a dose of God thrown in, wouldn’t hurt and could have a more healing and lasting effect.
However, there is one thing that we can all agree upon. Our troops deserve the best care that can be provided to them, and no cost should be spared. Remember: They were willing to give us all they had to give in order to protect us and we, as a country, owe them all we can give back to them.
Source: USA Today
Source: The Christian Post
CC licensed Flickr photo above shared by US Army