They all count
One week after Americans marked our country’s most somber of holidays, Memorial Day, the Associated Press reports disheartening war news.
The number of troop suicides, our little-acknowledged casualties of war, is up – way up, outpacing the number of troops killed in action by 50 percent.
Citing an Army document released Thursday, AP reports 154 suicides among active-duty troops in the first 155 days of 2012.
That’s one a day, an unexpectedly high tally that AP calls “the fastest pace in the nation’s decade of war.”
These deaths are an American tragedy.
And those numbers are much worse than they appear.
Not counted among these war dead are non-active duty reservists. The military does not report these suicide deaths among its numbers.
Not counted among these war dead are returning vets under care through the Veterans Administration. The military does not report these suicide deaths among its numbers.
Not counted among these war dead are returning vets who have not enrolled in the VA system. That’s an estimated two-thirds of our troops that have deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, many more than once. The military does not report these suicide deaths among its numbers.
These deaths – unacknowledged, unreported – are an American shame.
Veteran suicides are troop suicides. Even if they were able to withstand their unseen injuries a little longer.
They all count and must be included as we tally up our wounded and our casualties of war.
Only in this way can the full impact of deployment, and of military service, be addressed with proper training, intervention and treatment without fear.
We owe our military personnel – and their families – nothing less.
– Breeze editorial