Coming to Grief

The tally of suicides among U.S. troops in Iraq has climbed to
29, which raises questions about how accurately troop morale is
being measured. So far, military press officers have kept talk of
depression and suicide among service members to a hush, but
soldiers’ families are continuing to push for release of an Army
Surgeon General’s report that details the incidence of mental
health problems among troops in Iraq and Kuwait.

According to a study conducted by Stars and Stripes, 34
percent of 2,000 troops deployed in Iraq report low or very low
morale while nearly 1,000 troops have been sent to Landstuhl
Regional Medical Center in Germany for mental health treatment. In
a recent public appearance, Army Col. Thomas J. Burke cited the
official rate of suicides among troops as 20 percent higher than
the recent average. But why are behavioral health issues among
troops on the rise?

Some activists are correlating troop suicide attempts with the
rising inclination of American soldiers to ditch their duties in
Iraq. Le Canard Enchaine recently reported that 1,700
individuals have abandoned their military posts, many disappearing
after their stateside rotation. U.S. activist Carl Rising-Moore
urges conflicted troops to flee to Canada, and plans to work with
Canadian armed forces veterans in an operation entitled, ‘Freedom
Underground’ that will aid AWOL U.S. service members in crossing
the border into Canada.
Andi McDaniel

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