The number of troops committing suicide just keeps growing as does the number of devastated families and communities. At the same time the Army announced record high numbers of suicides in June, it also released a video, “Shoulder to Shoulder,” which the Army hopes will create awareness and help prevent suicides.
This is a growing tragedy, but not a new one. At COP Callahan in Sad’r City in Baghdad, Terry spent time with a soldier on suicide watch — he had no weapon, could not leave the base. Later, during the two weeks we were based out of Al Taqaddam in Iraq in 2007, Terry flew on two separate medevacs with troops who had attempted suicide. Lee, meanwhile, went to at a nearby post, arriving two days after a Marine had killed himself while standing guard.
Combat stress doctors at the time were loathe to see this as a rising trend. They pointed to a hasty vetting process in order to get the numbers the Army needed; to the pressures of deployment exacerbating underlying (and often undetected) conditions; and the cumulative stress of multiple deployments.
Just recently we spoke to the family of the Marine who committed suicide in 2007. The pain has not gone away. It never will.
Their loss will always be our loss.