Three Hours

President Obama recently stated that sending more troops into harm’s way in Afghanistan is a solemn decision—one that he would not rush. As a veteran, I find the decision to send troops into harm’s way without an effective military mental health program in place beyond solemn. It’s deeply disturbing. Keeping soldiers mentally fit should be as important as keeping them physically fit.

Since the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq started, nearly 2,000 active-service soldiers have killed themselves, according to a report by the San Antonio Express-News earlier this year. Even more alarming is the fact that every day, five active-duty service members attempt suicide. In the past eight years, that means up to 14,000 have felt their life is not worth living.

The government doesn’t want you to know this. In spring of 2008, CBS news journalist Armen Keteyian exposed a Veterans Administration cover-up of suicide stats. The reporting revealed that every day, eighteen veterans kill themselves and roughly 1,000 attempt suicide each month. The VA’s head of Mental Health had claimed there were only 790 attempts in all of 2007, a far cry from the reality.

Among all veterans, over the eight years we’ve been at war in the Middle East, the statistics point that roughly 50,000 have committed suicide, with upwards of 44,000 attempting suicide. These figures only represent data gathered since 2001; this has been an ongoing and persistent problem since Vietnam—and the numbers go up each day.

Recently, the Army made a big deal about giving $50 million to fund a five-year research project on military suicide. In their book, The Three Trillion Dollar War, Linda J. Bilmes and Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz figured the cost of the Iraq war at $12 billion a month. That means we spend more than $16 million an hour. If you do the math, the $50 million that went to suicide research is what we spend every three hours in Iraq.

The day after Christmas this year will mark our 3,000th day at war. At this point, we’ve heard a lot about suicide bombers, but what about suicide? Regardless of anyone’s feelings about our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, these soldiers deserve much more than three hours of our time.

SPC Michael Anthony is the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception and Dishonor in Iraq (Adams Media, October 2009). The book is drawn from the personal journals of SPC Anthony during the 1st year he spent serving in Iraq. It is a non-partisan look at what really goes on within the military. Read other articles by Michael, or visit Michael's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 16th, 2009 at 11:40am #

    ?Every prez, pol, ‘educator’, priest, ‘editor’ makes mostly tacit or explicit promises.
    Thus far it had always worked for US warlords and lords of the serfs-dependencies.
    Obama tacitly promises that he wld “not rush” with the decision to send more soldiers into afgh’n.

    However- of what a discovery!- “not rush” may mean what? U name the date of sending the soldiers to afgh’n? Will u please?
    How ab next weak? next month, year, decade? Certainly, waiting a decade wld not be rushing, wld it?

    And he says that the decision to send soldiers to affgh’n is “solemn” one.
    Ok kids, i am now entering his brain [one cannot scan a mind]. I am scanning and scanning it.
    OK, i give up. I don’t see a thing. I also scanned uncle sam’s brain in 1800s, 1917, 1950, 1965, ’01, ’03 and once again i gave up my probings.

    Folks, i am not rushing my judgments. I also am not solemnly thinking, either. When i do think solemnly, i get confused. So i think just like peasants and unschhooled do.
    So don’t believe anything i say. tnx

  2. Annie Ladysmith said on November 16th, 2009 at 1:35pm #

    THIS IS WHAT EVERY US SERVICE PERSON SHOULD KNOW! Your government is in the process of putting you in harm’s way BECAUSE they want to kill you. If you live to make it back you will then die of toxic vaccines or DU exposure, like thousands of US personel are finding out.

    THE TRUTH IS YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED TO TURN ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHEN OBAMA DECLARES MARTIAL LAW! There are already ‘UN’ troops training in our country that will have no qualms about taking on the militias.

    Many in the Airforce Reserves have declined duty rather than take the devil’s brew of toxic ‘vaccines’ that will render your immune system useless to fight off even their “SWINE-FLU’ or whatever other crap they concoct.

    The planning for our destruction has been insidious and relentless. It is trully BEYOND TREASON (get this video) and the entire government is guilty by association. They should be incarcerated and tried as war criminals on behalf of the CONSTITUION and the AMERICAN PEOPLE, who are so obliged as to keep, and to fight for, their guaranteed constituional freedoms.

    YES! All you petty TYRANTS and would be DICTATORS out there. In America it is not just our opinion to fight FASCISTS, but OUR GOD-GIVEN RIGHT WHICH IS NOT ONLY EMBEDDED, NEVER TO BE REMOVED, IN OUR CONSTITUTION, BUT ALSO EMBEDDED, NEVER TO BE REMOVED, IN OUR HEARTS AND SOULS! Take our freedoms away at your own risk.

  3. Sam said on November 16th, 2009 at 4:09pm #

    I was on a website the other day and I read a comment from some Dem kool-aid drinker Obamabot apologist disciple. The person was essentially saying that the Repugs are entirely responsible for where we are today because they vote “no” on “everything” the person said. (What a generalization!) While reading the person’s comment I thought: as a Dem “team” disciple you take no ownership or responsibility for your own Bush-enabling Democratic Party helping (with their yes votes, the silence and complicity) the Cheney/Bush regime accomplish nearly all of their goals since 2000? The Repugs and the Bush regime could not have accomplished their goals and agenda without the help of the Bush-enabling Dems. Period. Were the Bush-enabling Dems required to vote yes repeatedly to help the Cheney/Bush regime? Hell no. They did so willingly. The person didn’t say a word about their precious D “team.” It was all about the Repug “team.” Then they went on to say that “give Obama at least 3 years to clean up the mess.” I thought: So now one is supposed to give him 3 years and are you speaking about the mess that the Bush-enabling Democratic Party HELPED TO CREATE along with your “savior” Obama as a Bush-enabler when he was in the senate? But again, not a word was spoken about this person’s D “team” and their role in helping to create the mess we’re in. Then the person went on to say “look at how much Obama has accomplished in 9 months.” The person gave absolutely no specifics whatsoever. Clearly the person wasn’t talking about the continuation of the USA Patriot Act, rendition, 2 illegal wars/occupations (Iraq & Afghanistan), droning Pakistan, escalating Afghanistan, illegal spying, torture, mountain top removal, (well I could keep going on with what Obama has “accomplished” in 9 months but most of the people on here already know the long list of Obama continuing the Cheney/Bush neocon agenda).

    I don’t know if the person whose comment I am relaying will ever come out of their Dem “team” denial/stupor and deprogram their D “team” brainwashing (which is no different than the R “team” brainwashing), but I found their comment pathetic because the person refused to take no ownership or responsibility for his own “team’s” role in creating the mess, but the comment was so very typical of the brainwashed D “team” mentality and those D “team” suckers who still trying to make excuses, apologies and defenses for these D (in this case) millionaire scum of the Earth war criminals in congress and in the White House, specifically war criminal Obama. And there’s usually one of these Dem “team” apologists/suckers/denialists on most message forums.

    If war criminal Obama had a R behind his name, would these D “team” suckers be making excuses for him and saying “you have to give him at least 3 years?” And why do these suckers feel the need to rush to the defense of millionaires? Rhetorical question. It’s because these millionaires are from their “team.” Pathetic. Yet when Cheney/Bush were doing the same thing Obama is doing, these suckers were screaming about it, but when their “savior” Obama does it, they are now making excuses and instead saying, “you have to give him at least 3 years.”

    I ain’t giving him anything. I didn’t vote for the war criminal to begin with because I (and others) knew what he was about because we examined his Bush-enabling voting record from the senate. He’s a fraud with a smile, and at times he’s good at reading from a TelePrompter and giving lofty but empty feel-good speeches to dupe those gullible sheep who allow themselves to be duped repeatedly.

  4. Annie Ladysmith said on November 17th, 2009 at 12:53am #

    Dear SPC, none of the Marxists that blog here give a shit about US forces or the US. They are only interested in being a thorn in the Zionists flesh. It’s all they EVER blog about, round in circles, like the Zionists could care less what ANTBODY thinks about them, but i digress–, the world will watch with glee as the stars and stripes burns for good, i say, lets go out with a bang. **** all the rotten, bitter Marxist trash and there will be a day when the carrion feed on their carcasses. So have your day, you Marxist, globalist pigs, you know that there was never a country who had such a flag and such an anthem, your grubby little countries groveled in the dirt when that great flag was unfurled in your good-for-nothing nowhere places. Your world will not be better without that grand flag, it will be lost. We were betrayed from within, no foreign country could ever take down America, remember that in your glee you crappy little nothings. It was the greatest country the world has ever had and with Supreme help we hope for a holy remnent to be left that will tread on the serpent and trample the young lion. Manasseh, the great nation. Joseph, who all his brothers bowed down before.

  5. Hue Longer said on November 17th, 2009 at 1:07am #

    It’s really weird watching “Constitutionalists” on one hand think they hate their government for mixed up reasons but then hearken to a day when it was bitchen and beautiful and slaves picked the cotton and Indians were shot for squatting on Masta’s land. I don’t see any reason for them to hate the government—it’s really the same thing as the country now and then-and has nothing to do with their fantasies of it being a socialist state

  6. kalidas said on November 17th, 2009 at 7:47am #

    Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

  7. Deadbeat said on November 17th, 2009 at 11:56am #

    Nationalism is nothing more than a cult used to divide people and to serve Capitalism.

  8. Annie Ladysmith said on November 18th, 2009 at 12:35am #

    Hue, is that a name? What hue do you come in you punk,RED. Your stupid opinion dosn’t even make sense. Can you understand English?
    Try this: Fuck off.

  9. Annie Ladysmith said on November 18th, 2009 at 12:42am #

    DEADBEAT, do you have worms eating your brain you stupid Fuck.
    There is a time coming when nationalism will not exist and you will see THAT IT IS ONLY THROUGH NATIONALISM THAT THE LIFE AND LIBERTIES OF THE PERSON ARE PROTECTED. But being the rotten little commie you are you could give a shit about personal liberty. But don’t worry, they are not interested in promoting deadbeat punks, you’ll end up in a gulag for sure and then you can meditate on your own lack of personal liberty.

  10. Annie Ladysmith said on November 18th, 2009 at 12:43am #

    Kalidas, yes, some are more ashamed than others, you should know.