twenty-two u.s. troops committed suicide in iraq last year. nearly one in five of all noncombat deaths. the highest suicide rate since the war started. service members who committed suicide in 2004 or 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring.
col. elspeth ritchie, the army’s top mental health expert has this to say:
“the challenge for us … is that the army has a mission to fight. and, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge,” she said. “and so we have to weigh the needs of the army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers’ personal needs.”
thirty percent of the marines returning from iraq have serious mental problems. more than 200,000 prescriptions for the most common antidepressants were written in the last fourteen months for service members and their families.
how many iraqi veterans will eventually join the ranks of the 400,000 homeless vets on the streets of american cities ?