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Old 05-14-2006, 08:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Suicidal troops sent into combat

This admin. is starting to really, really Piss Me Off, this is so disgusting and Totally unnecessary! I hope people are seeing this BS, that the powers in Washington are pulling on us!

Make some changes next time you get an opportunity to vote!

Maybe this belongs in politics only because of my comments not the nature of the story. That should horrify generally.


Report: Suicidal troops sent into combat
U.S. military violated own rules on mentally ill troops, newspaper finds
The Associated Press
Updated: 10:04 p.m. ET May 13, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. - U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

‘Chemically active time bombs’
Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 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. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for “extended deployments.”

“I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. “You’re creating chemically activated time bombs.”

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer “persistent post-traumatic symptoms,” the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

“I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country,” said Dr. Arthur S. Blank, Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

‘Recruiting has been a challenge’
The Army’s top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.

“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.”

Ritchie insisted the military works hard to prevent suicides, but is a challenge because every soldier has access to a weapon.

Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in the war zone. Ritchie and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.

“Your average commander doesn’t want to deal with a whacked-out soldier. But on the other hand, he doesn’t want to send a message to his troops that if you act up, he’s willing to send you home,” said Maj. Andrew Efaw, a judge advocate general officer in the Army Reserves who handled trial defense for soldiers in northern Iraq last year.
© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© 2006 MSNBC.com

URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12777489/
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Old 05-14-2006, 08:45 AM   #2 (permalink)
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It's disgusting, yes, but it seems a little premature to go knocking down the administration for something they may not have control of.
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
This admin. is starting to really, really Piss Me Off, this is so disgusting and Totally unnecessary! I hope people are seeing this BS, that the powers in Washington are pulling on us!
Are you smoking crack?
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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This is obviously not the solution to the recruiting problem. Do they really want to create an army of medicated, "potentially suicidal or homicidal" kids? This administration continues to reek of desperation, and in it's desperation it continues to put lives in danger. Who supports our troops? Certianally not our government.

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Old 05-14-2006, 09:44 AM   #5 (permalink)
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If anything, I think this is very sad.

If intentional, it's sad that anyone would force someone to go through that.

If unintentional, it's sad that they know so little about their own troops.
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Old 05-14-2006, 09:49 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Perhaps I don't understand how the system works but why is this the fault of the current administration? Isn't this the way the military has always operated?
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:06 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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"The Army’s top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage."

Ok, so maybe I over reacted, I just was outraged after reading about this.

It seems a top health expert knows about the practice, it should be stopped!
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:08 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I agree with the poster. This is sick, wrong and immoral, but then again, the Bush administration always has been.

My friend has a friend whose brother went overseas, and came back with a lot of mental issues. This is why we need to stop the war NOW. Do we really want mentally unstable citizens?
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Well, we can't really stopt he war now. While I agree we had no business GOING to war in the first place, the position we've put ourselves in is not so easily taken back. Yes, mentally unstable people should NOT be sent into combat, however shorting a squad or platoon can also mean a tragic end for those other people as well. It's a much more complicated situation that this story leads one to believe.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:32 AM   #11 (permalink)
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It's the good old Catch-22.
"They wouldn't send a crazy man into combat, would they?"
"Who else would go?"
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:53 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maximusveritas
It's the good old Catch-22.
"They wouldn't send a crazy man into combat, would they?"
"Who else would go?"
Maybe these guys.
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:10 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Huh?
I was just wondering why what's his face posted this thread in GD and not Politics.
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:13 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maximusveritas
It's the good old Catch-22.
"They wouldn't send a crazy man into combat, would they?"
"Who else would go?"
You may have a point!
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Old 05-14-2006, 03:36 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Oh I'm soo crazy you can't send me into a combat zone!
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Old 05-15-2006, 03:38 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by la petite moi
My friend has a friend whose brother went overseas, and came back with a lot of mental issues. This is why we need to stop the war NOW. Do we really want mentally unstable citizens?
In World War II, you had thousands of men returning to the US with "mental issues" such as shell shock. But I think most people nowadays will support our involvement. I don't believe that mental problems alone are a sufficient reason to leave Iraq. I agree that we should stop the war ASAP, but for different reasons.
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Old 05-15-2006, 04:45 AM   #17 (permalink)
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"Let's see here next question on the army recruitment form is.. Do you have thoughts of killing yourself, and if so would you be willing to take some of the Iraqi insurgence with you?"
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Old 05-15-2006, 05:40 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Old 05-15-2006, 05:58 AM   #19 (permalink)
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I would love the chance to do some Bush Bashin’ (not that the chances are plenty), as a vet I dont see this as really dont see as Bush's fault or even Rummy. This falls directly on the hands of commanding officers of these young men. I sure there is not a policy or memoranda saying to ignore doctors recommendations. My guess is the officers in charge either dont buy that the soldier is suicidal, and just trying to get out of combat. The other reason is that they are stretched so thin that cant afford to loose any personnel for any reasons.

At least when I was in the military took suicide pretty serious. We had a lot of training on the matter. We even had extra training when a member of my squadron took his own life and when the man incharge of the Navy killed himself.
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Old 05-15-2006, 06:37 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Was it wrong that I thought this was a good idea when I saw the topic?

Then again I think "suicidal" is a cop-out for a failure at life with no frame of reference on just how lucky they are. "Waa waa look at how bad I have it.."

If there's any place that gives you a reality check and makes you thank your lucky stars for being alive, it's true combat. You're lucky to have made it out alive, so why in the hell would you kill yourself?

I think we should start recruiting some of the emo "suicidal" kids into the Army, and see how long they stay "suicidal" and not "glad to be alive."
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Old 05-15-2006, 06:52 AM   #21 (permalink)
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It is a tough culture. When the stress gets to you, it is harder than normal society because you have the culture to deal with. From "Suck it up, Buttercup" to "It Don't Mean Nothin'", soldiers are actually stripped of their normal stress coping mechanisms.

Coping mechanisms can be dangerous when the shit hits the fan. Last place you want to be is around guys who are coming apart. They toughen you, mentally and physically, and the emotional vent is closed.

No crying, no whining, no talking about feelings. No hugging, holding hands, cuddling or sharing. You shut the fuck up and deal with things on your own. How is a normal person supposed to react after too much stress gets to them? When you finally realize that there is a problem and reach out for help, you are beat down again. You see guys careers end from getting help. You see the group cast them out. You see the military institution unequipped for these injuries. So you sit there, and get worse. And worse. And then that whole suicide thing starts looking pretty good, because you feel like you are going to die anyway. Hey, at least you are in control when you commit suicide. It is better than getting blown up, or your face ripped off, or set on fire like the buddies who you loved and lost.

How do you change the culture? You don't. It changes on its own. All we can do is support the folks over there the best we can.
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Old 05-15-2006, 01:06 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Very good post Ben, verry good.
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Old 05-15-2006, 01:39 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Ditto, what Seaver said.

JinnKai, my first husband had PTSD following Vietnam. I assure you that he was not a cop out, a whiner, or a coward.
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Old 05-15-2006, 02:35 PM   #24 (permalink)
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An extra ditto, for Ben's fabulous post.

I think more of this stems from the recent wave of unscrupulous recruiting practices than anything. It's hard to pin the blame on Bush or Rummy, especially in this kind of general situation.

The Oregonian had an interesting write-up Sunday May 7th about a young man with autism that had been recruited into the Army. This young man wasn't even a highly-functioning autistic; rather, he was a kid who had required years of special education and attention. Yet the recruiters pushed him into signing up. Now they are investigating the recruiting practices that got this kid signed into the service in the first place.

This is the longest war we've fought completely with volunteers. Think about the pressure that puts on our armed services; they're begging for regular troops. The desperation for recruits is what causes these kind of mistakes, and that happens at the ground level, not at the top.
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Old 05-15-2006, 03:22 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Decisions on troop levels in the American system of government are not made by any general or set of generals but by the civilian leadership of the war effort.

In addition, the generals expediting the war have been pressured not to request more troops because Rumsfeld is afraid it would make the army we have look weak, aside from him saying that the army we have is not the army we want.

Plus, General Tommy Franks told Rumsfeld we would need 250,000 troops to expedite this debacle. Rumsfeld assured him that a coalition of nations would join in to the tune of "tens of thousands".

In response to criticism that we don't have enough troops, Rusmfeld has responded that the criticism is "laughable" and that people making those comments have no idea what's going on in Iraq. He said this the same week that a MEU commanding officer said that the troops were severly depleted.

The generals are doing whatever they can to make Rumsfeld look right. They don't get to specifiy the number of troops, just what they do. Rumsfeld is entirely to blame for this.
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Old 05-15-2006, 10:23 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Hmmm....I think regardless of administration, this seems to be a bad idea. I mean from a practical standpoint. There are many issues her, I will just address one for now.

In response to JinnKai, I don't think it's a good idea to have suicidal soldiers in the squad/unit. Simply, because their suicidal tendencies could endanger the group. That reason alone, in my opinion, is enough to think about removing suicidal soldiers from the unit.

Perhpa one way to deal with potential fakers would be mandatory treatment? If someone is suicidal, they probably need some help. If they are not, then help is probably what they don't want (treatment, therapy etc).

It seems to be wise, to protect the group if one member is suicidal. I would be stressed out if the guy who's supposed to have my back doesn't want to live.

(on a side note, I feel like there is some sort of joke waiting to happen regarding this issue and terrorist recruitment - sorry).
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Old 05-16-2006, 06:37 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by jorgelito
...I would be stressed out if the guy who's supposed to have my back doesn't want to live....
It really isn't like that. You would never do anything to jeopardize the mission, or the people around you that are closer than family.

Even if the soldier doesn't care if they live or die, they still care deeply about the people around them. I know that sounds like a contradiction, but it isn't. Another thing, it isn't about "not caring about your personal safety" either. You care, and you want the mission to go smoothly, for the same reason: you care about the people around you.

Suicide happens when you know that your stress is affecting the team, and the team would be better off not having you around and worrying about you.

You get a Dear John letter, or the CO tells you that your dad died or something.
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