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No Suicides Allowed
"Thousands of soldiers, their bald eagle shoulder patches lined up row upon row across the grassy field, stood at rigid attention to hear a stern message from their commander.I quote from an article written on April 24, 2010 by Kristen M. Hall of the Associated Press. She goes on to tell the story of twenty-one-year-old Adam Kuligowski upon his return from Afghanistan. Adam loved the Army and his job, but he became increasingly depressed and angry. Finally,
"Brig[adier] Gen[eral] Stephen Townsend addressed the 101st Airborne Division with military brusqueness: Suicides at the post had spiked after soldiers started returning home from war, and this was unacceptable.
" 'It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our Army and our country and it's [sic] got to stop now,' he insisted. 'Suicides on Fort Campbell [Kentucky] have to stop now.' "
"Adam wrote a note telling his dad, [Mike], 'Sorry to be a disappointment.' Then he shot himself inside a bathroom stall with his rifle.What kind of leadership is that? Off the top of my head and in one word I would say, typical.
"When the Army closed their investigation into the soldier's suicide, his father said an investigator told him that Adam's problem was that he was unable to conform to a military lifestyle. Mike Kuligowski did receive a personal note from the general who was commanding the division at the time: 'We don't know why this happened,' he wrote.
"Kuligowski was not appeased. 'It reminds me that officers know absolutely nothing about the plights of the soldiers who are under their command,' he said. 'What kind of leadership is that?' "
The plight of these soldiers was called "shell shock" in WWI. In WWII and Korea, it was called "battle fatigue." Since Vietnam, the psychiatric diagnosis is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. But disregarding the labels, the symptoms are the same. For military leaders and investigators to scratch their heads over the increase in suicides is ludicrous, and General Townsend's proclamation "to stop now" is way beyond asinine.
According to Hall's article, Fort Campbell is responding to the crisis.
"The number of patients being treated at the behavioral health clinic has increased by 60 percent, from 25,400 in 2008 to nearly 40,000 in 2009. To handle the expanded need, they've also increased the number of counselors in that clinic to 60 last year, compared to 36 in 2008. In all, Fort Campbell has about 100 counselors, some of whom work in areas like social work, family advocacy, substance abuse and children's behavioral health."40,000 patients and 60 counselors equals a caseload of 667 to 1. It cannot be done. Furthermore, who is writing psych med scripts and monitoring 40,000 people?
We train our soldiers to defend our country from a hostile invasion. We train them in all types of weaponry, to kill to protect the civilian populace. And then we send them to fourth-world countries like Korea and Vietnam and Iraq and Afghanistan that don't want them there in the first place, and our soldiers kill to protect themselves from an enemy they cannot distinguish from a non-enemy. Amid the chaos they see atrocities no human should ever have to witness, including the bombing of innocent children and infants.
Eventually the soldiers come home and are discharged from service. Most of them adjust to their old lives again, but many don't—the ones who need help.
As someone whom I can't remember said, "We make them into killing machines, but unfortunately there is no 'off' switch." Yes, yes there is: it's called suicide, a very effective off switch. But not at Fort Campbell, Kentucky because suicides are not allowed.