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Buddhism in the News


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Suicides Account for Majority of U.S. Military Deaths; Surpassing Battlefield Deaths.

For the second consecutive year, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide, than it has to combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. That doesn't even include all the reservists. End the wars and improve mental health for our soldiers AND civilians. For too long, mental health has been the "dirty lil' secret" in America--it's time to speak out and be brave.

It's really easy to slap a yellow ribbon magnet onto your gas guzzling Hummer and lull yourself into a delusion that you're supporting the troops. Of course, everyone supports the soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, but how about when they come home? All too often they fade from our memories and they are left to disappear into the shadows of loneliness, isolation and mental anguish. Our soldiers did their fighting abroad, and now that they are at home, it is up to us, the civilians they fought for, to stand up and fight for them. It is up to us, to support them, and to gain the top-notch, mental health care that they have earned and deserve.

I refuse to stand by and let our tormented veterans be ignored and shunned because of the battle wounds that have scarred their minds. I hate war and dislike that they have to go through war in the first place, but I love those soldiers more. We need to put our money where our mouth is on this issue--literally. Is it so hard to give of our wealth, so that these heroes will be given every bit of assistance they need, earned in blood and deserve? Or, is our support for them limited to those yellow magnets on our cars that are literally, "the least we can do" for them?

~Peace to all Beings~

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Photojournal53 said...

As a veteran myself I agree wholeheartedly with this. As someone who suffers from a mental illness I can tell you that the author is correct. We have an absolute obligation to care for those who have gone to war on our behalf, regardless of the nature of their wounds.

Jayarava said...

Hi James,

Do you have a source for the suicide statistic - I'm interested in following up.


David "Shinzen" Nelson said...

It's frustrating as a therapist to see the suffering...I have worked with Viet Nam vets, Gulf War and Iraq vets. Encourage your vet to seek counseling...not just medications. Meds just mask symptoms and don't work alone...counseling, therapy, support from family and the community is needed...and you are right James...bring it out in the open and stop hiding the true cost of war.

They call him James Ure said...

@Photo...Thank-you for your service and thank-you for sharing your experience. You are so right that it is an obligation--I can't believe there is even a debate about it in some circles.

@Jayarava...Oops, I forget to add the link!! Sorry. Here's the link:

Twice as many troops lost to suicide as battlefield deaths: Click here for source.

@Shinzen...I bet it is frustrating as a therapist. I can relate to them only in the sense that i too struggle with suicide. Thanks for reminding us that therapy is crucial--I will add an edit about it in the post.

BD said...

I was a member of the Canadian Forces, I have lost buddies over in Afghanistan, and now work in the last Veteran's Hospital in Canada. I can tell you that I am surprised from time to time to see guys younger than me being treated for PTSD and other issues. I say guys meaning to include women as well, as women are starting to climb up in the stats as well, although I would imagine that most suffer in silence afraid to come across as weak. A problem still for the guys too.

Jayarava said...

Thanks for the link. Quite a shocking statistic.

erathora said...

That statistic is amazing and really sticks with me. So many of the soldiers want good treatment, and are being denied. This is so preventable, and as you said, a way to TRULY support the troops. To support the troops for a lifetime we have to make it okay for them to say how they are feeling. And have the resources available when they need them. Thank you for this.

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