By MARK THOMPSON / WASHINGTON Mark Thompson / Washington – Tue Apr 13, 4:45 pm ET
From the invasion of Afghanistan until last summer, the U.S. military had lost 761 soldiers in combat there. But a higher number in the service - 817 - had taken their own lives over the same period. The surge in suicides, which have risen five years in a row, has become a vexing problem for which the Army's highest levels of command have yet to find a solution despite deploying hundreds of mental-health experts and investing millions of dollars. And the elephant in the room in much of the formal discussion of the problem is the burden of repeated tours of combat duty on a soldier's battered psyche.
I can't help but think it: If you kill someone else, for whatever reason, you kill a bit of yourself. It is unavoidable and has little or nothing to do with hand-wringing or religious posturing. And I can imagine, but don't know, that the same effect is achieved, though to a lesser extent, when serving in combat conditions -- whether as a combatant or as one threatened as a potential bit of 'collateral damage.'
And I can imagine soldiers who have been wounded in this way facing a grating mental scenario in which one of the viable options might be stated as "Why not just finish the job?"
How politicians or anyone else manages to elude the directly-linked responsibility for this situation is, in my mind, insanely unbalanced.