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I've been deeply disturbed by two trends concerning our military and its soldiers over the past decade. Neither has much to do with my tendency towards isolationism or deep distrust of the military-industrial complex that continually bankrupts our country. Rather, these trends disturb me on a deeper, more personal level.

The first was and is the quiet attempts to cut compensation during a time of war and the continued disrespect it shows to our soldiers dutifully fulfilling their mission.

The second is the epidemic of suicides in our military, often attached to PTSD from dutifully fulfilling their mission on our behalf but not receiving proper mental health treatment.

But could these two trends be intertwined? Follow below the fold to find out what got me wondering and then join me in untying the not.

I was browsing the excellent diary by A Progressive Military Wife earlier about the misinformed Sergeant Major of the Marine Corp Michael Barrett. Give her diary a read for a touching and telling argument that destroys Mr. Barrett's suggestion that military families should tighten their budgets so that the Marines can remain a "warfighting organization" and not an "an entitlements-based and health care provider". Seriously.

But we're used to that kind of ignorance, even from otherwise respected military and political minds. How many different excuses have we heard for cutting compensation - whether one is managing a military or business matters little. In order for the good of the overall mission, in this case "warfighting", the folks at the bottom must sacrifice. And sacrifice they do, often more than they ever should have to in the first place.

This graphic in her diary caught my eye:

Having researched military mental health in the past, I recognized a similar pattern. After searching around a bit, I found this NYT article: Baffling Rise in Suicides Plagues the U.S. Military. In it are these two graphs:
Notice the almost identical increases on each graph from 2006-2012? I was baffled. It looks like at the same time we were forcing many military families to depend on government food stamps to survive, more soldiers were committing suicide. Of course correlation is not causation, but it is curious nonetheless and enough to keep me digging for more info.

It turns out The Guardian put out an entire set of graphs last year to further clarify the growing issue of suicide in the US military. The two that caught my eye are the two that appear to suggest that soldiers who are poorest and least educated are the most likely to take their own lives. The graphs won't embed and there are more worth checking out at the link, but here's the data:

Suicides Per 100K Soldiers by Education (In 2012)
GED Graduates: 42
High School: 18
Bachelors: 12

Suicides Per 100K Soldiers by Rank (In 2012)
Private-Corporal: 21
Sergeant: 19
Officer: 9

So, let me get this straight. There is an epidemic of suicide in the US military (although it may have slowed this year) and those most at risk are the lowest ranking, least educated soldiers. And after over a decade of perpetual war, Republicans and others, including the genius above, have suggested that cutting both benefits and pay for THESE soldiers is the way to balance a bloated Pentagon budget.

Folks, I'm not an expert in this field. I know that war and the associated psychological impacts alone are enough to push suicide rates in the armed forces higher than the general population. But I also know it certainly can't be helping if soldiers dealing with issues like that are also constantly wondering how they'll pay that next co-pay or if they need to go apply for food stamps to feed their family.

I'd love to hear input, both personal and from those in the know on this topic. Does adding more financial stress on top of the stress already associated with war make suicide even more likely? What psychological impact does it have, both on our soldiers (deployed or home) and their families?  

This is an issue that should cut across nearly all political lines, real and imagined. Even if we don't end the war(s), cut the bloated budget, or bring our boys back, we have a responsibility to ensure their benefits aren't cut at home while they're out sacrificing abroad. We should really be expanding benefits, for better mental health systems generally and low-level military families specifically, to fight this epidemic that takes those we've invested millions in away from their friends, families and communities.

Originally posted to UntyingTheNot on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 11:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another issue that requires study (22+ / 0-)

    is the impact of the growing reliance on the National Guard for long and frequent deployments.  They don't come home to a military base.  They're dispersed often in rural areas and small towns which may not have the services necessary to treat them.

    I know in if you are a veteran out in South Dakota you may have to board the VA bus at 3 am to get to clinic appointment at the VA in Minneapolis.  So if you're suffering from depression or PTSD or whatever condition that requires specialized treatment you aren't necessarily closely connected with care for those conditions nor do you have the support structure of the regular military.  You may be pretty isolated.

    •  Great Point (15+ / 0-)

      I have friends in the Guard that do a great deal, then return to a very rural area where VA services aren't exactly easy to get to. I expect there are many similarly isolated guardsmen and other veterans struggling with that reality. On top, I imagine any cuts in pay or benefits would only exacerbate the situation and make it more difficult to access care.

      Thanks for bringing this situation up. Bringing some data to possibly back it up, the Guardian has a chart from 2011 data on location of suicide. 236 were while on US soil, 52 total off and the vast majority at a home residence or barracks. Your concerns about having a group, the Guard, that routinely go to homes well away from services would seem to be very valid.

      I hope they are looking into it, if they haven't already.

      "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." -Keynes

      by UntyingTheNot on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 12:29:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The VA also doesn't or didn't help with childcare (5+ / 0-)

        Military folks move around a lot, and don't necessarily end up in a home town, or perhaps are not on good terms with family. Have some kids and try and use the VA--oh yea that was real helpful.

        They don't want to see you with your kids in tow, but they apparently think that if you are coming to them, that one is rich enough to pay for good childcare.

        That's male and female.

        Male service members not working, the wife surpporting the family now often without a college edu--where do the kids go again?  Oh yea with him.

        "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

        by GreenMother on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:11:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That certainly can't help the situation (5+ / 0-)

          and would seem like another contributing factor in this mess. A factor that flies in the face of a post below that bothered us both, I think. It would seem ensuring families have basic childcare would be a priority in a field with many lower-income soldiers spending time away from home. Then, with the medical issues many face once home it would be similarly useful. I'm guessing, as some cite here, that people just don't want to pay for it.

          It's a shame that in not wanting to pay for simple benefits, we end up paying in much more dear ways. They should certainly work on the childcare issue, while addressing other concerns in the mental health system.

          Thanks for this and all of your great comments.

          "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." -Keynes

          by UntyingTheNot on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:01:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Please note: Paul Ryan's "Roadmap 2.0" plan (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            GreenMother, Oh Mary Oh

            makes no mention of military personnel and veterans.


            And that has been voted on favorably by the Republicans in the House of Representatives.

            "Support the troops" ??? Really?

            "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

            by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:07:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thats because Ryan is a Chicken-Hawk. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              We seem them all the time at my house. My big hens charge them and they fly off squawking indignantly like they were almost mauled to death by a feathered pitbull and not a big fluffy female chicken.

              "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

              by GreenMother on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 05:47:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  The military has before and after school programs (0+ / 0-)

            on many bases, and they have nice community centers too. The main thing right now is the SNAP/WIC issue with lower enlisted and food security.

            The post below that complained as if active duty parents get special treatment--you know I would have agreed with him, when I was 20. But then again, I was 20. As a mom, remembering the women I knew who were pregnant in the service, and then had kids, I felt a lot more sympathy for them after that. Prior to my own children I had a very small frame of reference and not an accurate one at that.

            Believe me someone feeding a baby every 2 hours 24/7 who comes to work, even if watch standing is cut for them or cut back, that's not special treatment. They have to sleep some time.

            I was grateful that when I had my first child, the military gave my hubby Paternity Leave, that was cool! He got to spend weeks with me and our first born. It was nice, but mostly it was helpful since our first child had colic. On good days neither of us got more than 4 hrs sleep per 24 hr period.

            I know guys don't get pregnant so understanding what that feels like is difficult. I didn't have trouble with heavy lifting (although the military tends to limit that for pregnant females across the board) but I was out of breath a lot.

            Depriving members of the ability to have real relationships or start families--well hell, what are they fighting for?

            I would prefer it if people didn't have kids til they were in a stable relationship, but until this country gets over shaming women for using birth control and having pre-marital sex, well that's what we get. And yea, even though BC is available in the service, there is a certain amount of shaming that goes with it. Add to that teen girls joining after their only sex edu has been ignorance only--well what could possibly go wrong with that situation?

            After the fact:

            And if a dual military couple has kids or if a single person has a child, keep in mind they have to make special arrangements with other family members for the child's custody and care in the event they are deployed or if they die. That can be a difficult thing to ask of people who come from broken homes. But they have to do it.

            The VA extends these biases, even when it is inappropriate and unnecessary.

            The nasty attitude I got from the VA was mostly due to my gender. The fact that I had kids--well that was as sin that just couldn't be forgiven.

            Why? I dunno. I can name the mechanisms behind the behavior but I cannot explain it, because it's stupid and it makes no goddamn sense at all.

            "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

            by GreenMother on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 05:46:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Does VA allow use of Community Health (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, greenbell

      Centers in South Dakota ???

      This varies with Region.

      The CHCs are also allowed to make referrals to local hospitals and local doctors.

      VA also has mobile treatment operations, but that is not up to clinic standards for your typical chronic care patients.

      Also, PTSD + living in rural areas = bigger risk of social isolation. Not what you want where recurring combat memories can overwhelm.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 03:55:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's been done to the military--our veterans-- (9+ / 0-)

    in this country is disgusting---it's inexcusable.

    Lately---we seem to have turned into a country where American citizens are undervalued--and  there is no group out there whom should be more valued---than our veterans.

    What's been done to our veterans community is beyond shameful.

    And yet I live in  country where homeless people are killed---young men of color are racially profiled---and cut right down--with little or no remorse at all.

    Why am I even surprised by the neglect of this nation's veterans--shameful as it is--why  am  I even surprised?

    This is a country that undervalues American citizens.

    It is prevalent in the legislation that is passed---and it is the prevailing attitude with those who enforce legislation.

    We're undervalued--and this is a great Diary---and this diary points out the sad truth.

    Any country that undervalues it's nations veterans has right to request their service--in my book.

    Rose Schneiderman (1866-1972). "The life of men and women is so cheap and property is so sacred."

    by lyvwyr101 on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 01:08:24 PM PDT

  •  This Diary resonates with me. My Dear One joined (5+ / 0-)

    the US Army when he was 18. It was a time when we (that is, the USA) really needed an army because we had botched WW I settlements and set up the conditions that lead us now to have  to deal with Hitler.

    One war so often begets another.

    By "botched WW I" I refer to our Prez. W.Wilson--who was all for blame and punishment and was not sophisticated enough to understand that for the Europeans it was a game.  At that time war in Europe was all about exploiting what we now call 3rd World Countries.

    Feminism--the radical belief that women are human beings.

    by Mayfly on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 04:15:49 PM PDT

    •  a game????? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      wtf do you mean?

    •  You have it backwards (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, waterstreet2013

      Wilson with his 10 points and the League of Nations was the antithesis of "all for blame and punishment" as you state. The man did his very best at Versailles to NOT have the Germans made into scapegoats then literally killed himself traveling the country "taking his case to the people" when the Republicans who controlled the Senate refused to ratify the treaty of Versailles which Wilson ONLY supported because he did successfully lobby the Victors to have such an institution included in the treaty. Wilson felt it was the best hope we had to avoid another war.

      Well, Wilson had a stroke and became enfeebled, the Pukes led by Henry Cabot Lodge successfully avoided ratifying the treaty (The US signed a separate peace treaty with the Central Powers a few years later) and thus prevented the US's participation in the League.

      If Wilson was naive it was in the sense he felt the League of Nations would prevent future wars but since it had never been tried before it's hard to blame him for its ineffectiveness, especially when the US didn't participate in it.

      You should actually know some history before you spout off and contribute untruths to the discussion. Wilson was a big thinker with big ideas and unlike the Pukes of his time, he at least tried to prevent a future war.

      "My one hobby is maintaining a Democracy. If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of Fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and lick the hell out of you and we'll have a real war right here at home. - General Smedley Butler, 1933

      by Dave925 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 09:23:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "The Economic Consequences of the Peace" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oh Mary Oh

        in 1919 from John Maynard Keynes (that Keynes) takes a different position.

        The Project Gutenberg online and downloadable formats.

        Keynes wrote with awareness of Dickens, whose "A Tale of Two Cities" also spoke of Paris and the fortunes of mankind:

        THE power to become habituated to his surroundings is a marked characteristic of mankind. Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature of the economic organization by which Western Europe has lived for the last half century. We assume some of the most peculiar and temporary of our late advantages as natural, permanent, and to be depended on, and we lay our plans accordingly. On this sandy and false foundation we scheme for social improvement and dress our political platforms, pursue our animosities and particular ambitions, and feel ourselves with enough margin in hand to foster, not assuage, civil conflict in the European family. Moved by insane delusion and reckless self-regard, the German people overturned the foundations on which we all lived and built. But the spokesmen of the French and British peoples have run the risk of completing the ruin, which Germany began, by a Peace which, if it is carried into effect, must impair yet further, when it might have restored, the delicate, complicated organization, already shaken and broken by war, through which alone the European peoples can employ themselves and live.

        In England the outward aspect of life does not yet teach us to feel or realize in the least that an age is over. We are busy picking up the threads of our life where we dropped them, with this difference only, that many of us seem a good deal richer than we were before. Where we spent millions before the war, we have now learnt that we can spend hundreds of millions and apparently not suffer for it. Evidently we did not exploit to the utmost the possibilities of our economic life. We look, therefore, not only to a return to the comforts of 1914, but to an immense broadening and intensification of them. All classes alike thus build their plans, the rich to spend more and save less, the poor to spend more and work less.

        But perhaps it is only in England (and America) that it is possible to be so unconscious. In continental Europe the earth heaves and no one but is aware of the rumblings. There it is not just a matter of extravagance or "labor troubles"; but of life and death, of starvation and existence, and of the fearful convulsions of a dying civilization....

        Then starvation rumbled across central Europe and White Russia. Millions died. The deal that Wilson signed put the dagger in that civilization's heart.

        The economics of the Treaty follow on. Keynes had represented the English treasury in negotiations; he knew exactly where Wilson had failed.

        Thing is, as well, America standing aside had nothing to do with what the Treaty of Versailles accomplished for destruction. It was an instrument of revenge. It gave the world Adolph Hitler and WW II. And the League of Nations really never had a chance.

        "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

        by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:31:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The Financial Elites who shelter their wealth... (11+ / 0-) offshore tax havens view the citizens who volunteer to serve in our enlisted ranks as disposable losers, rubes and suckers. Emphasis on disposable.

    Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 05:27:08 PM PDT

  •  The SGM isn't misinformed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, chimene

    He's telling it like it is.

    "an entitlements-based and health care provider" is EXACTLY why kids join the military.  It damned sure isn't patriotism.  Sorry, but there it is.

    Most of the kids coming in today don't just have a spouse, they also have one, two, or three kids right along with them.

    The SGM is pointing out that too many of these young soldiers aren't focused on doing their jobs because they are too busy dealing with home drama with household 6 and associated ankle-biters.

    Let me give you an example (this was in peacetime btw)
    I was an instructor at Federal OCS at Ft Benning.  For over a year I was tasked to work every Federal holiday (Friday & Saturday) as either Regimental or Battalion Staff Duty Officer (24 hr mission - no sleep authorised)  Why did I keep getting hung up on the DA6?  Because the Commander felt that it was important that families spend the holidays together (we work 12 - 16 hours a day, 7 days a week in-cycle).  Since I was the only single SFC, I didn't get a day off for almost a year and a half.  And then those married assholes got pissy with me because I wasn't willing to work 3 years worth of holidays (and no, there was never an offer of comp time - Mission First, Mission Always.)

    I lost count of how many additional missions I picked up during my career because of some jackass has family problems at home.

    "Send Sgt Bryan to Honduras to live in a tent for 6 months, he's single."  

    "I can't go to the field right now, my wife is squirting out yet another tax deduction."  

    Post Clean up day - Married people go home to clean up their quarters while the single soldiers are responsible for taking care of every last bit of the unit's area.

    "Hey you" details - Married soldiers NEVER get hung up with those, only the single soldiers.

    "Family Problems"  He or she gets to stay at home to work out their problems while I had to do both my mission AND his mission.  After a while, it has a corrosive effect on the unit and the unit's morale.

    There was a time when a soldier had to get his commanders permission to marry.  That policy existed for a reason.

    •  Interesting, thanks for the input (4+ / 0-)
      “We are a warfighting organization. And if we don’t get control or slow growth, we are are going to be an entitlements-based and health care provider, and not a warfighting organization,” he said. “That’s what I will tell you: we have to remember what we do for a living.”
      Part of being a warfighting organization is making sure the warfighters have adequate physical and mental health coverage, regardless of whether they choose to have a family or remain single like yourself. Pushing financial literacy and being irritated about a system that favors families are both understandable, but neither justifies cutting military or veteran pay, pensions, benefits, etc - In my opinion.

      Sorry you feel so negatively towards military families. I didn't realize this was that big of an issue in the armed forces.  

      "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." -Keynes

      by UntyingTheNot on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 07:02:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You have no idea...... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave925, chimene

        We HAVE been pushing financial literacy

        We have been pushing it for over a decade - we teach it online, we teach it in units, we teach it at the schoolhouse - It is mandatory training that every soldier is required to take on an annual basis,  (I used to teach it) it is an inspectable item - just because we push it, doesn't mean Joe listens.

        Mental health is no different - It doesn't matter how many programs we have (and we have had them ever since the first spike in suicides, almost 10 years ago), if we can't get Joe to USE them.

        All of this shit is expensive, and Americans by-and-large don't want to pay for it.

        As far as military families - the US Military is very, very hostile toward single soldiers.  

        When Congress or DOD leadership talks about "Quality of Life" issues, they are talking about Quality of Life for Married Servicemembers, no one in either Congress or DOD gives a rat's ass about single soldiers.

        •  My impression from afar.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is that a substantial portion of DoD and Congress don't give a rat's ass about much of any soldier. If its even worse for single soldiers, which would seem to make little sense logistically but appears to be the case from your experience, then that is brutal.

          I'd enjoy a diary on it sometime. I was unaware the quality of life of single soldiers was looked upon differently from married soldiers in public policy circles.

          "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." -Keynes

          by UntyingTheNot on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:10:28 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Married soldiers also get paid more (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chimene, waterstreet2013

            That used to piss me off.

            Especially when most of my married shipmates were lazy as hell and I had to do most of the work, because our chief knew that I would get it done and done right.

            Plus, not that it really matters much, but most of these married jerks would become "single" at every port.

            They collected food stamps to feed their families, which just meant that I was paid less than someone who could collect food stamps for doing the same job that they'd screw up on purpose to avoid getting it assigned again.

            Meanwhile, I had to live on the ship and eat the crappy free food.

            In four years, I was able to save a whopping $3,000 (1976 dollars) by living this way. My only real outside expense was booze and my car. Heck, I lived better with part-time jobs plus the GI bill after I got out and went to school.

            Enlisted men are paid really crappy wages married or not.

    •  No Wife No Horse No Mustache (4+ / 0-)

      Boy those were the good ole days!

      There is so much wrong with this post that it's difficult to address it all.

      Funny thing is, I encountered this atttitude AFTER I got out, when dealing with the VA.

      That's right I waited and had kids AFTER I got out and I was married to Sr Enlisted. But you know them crotch crickets didn't come with that sea bag.

      Amazing. Expecting people not have any love in their lives, no kids of their own, nor sacrifice their freedoms temporarily to gain a good life for their children.

      Maybe (and I am just floating potatoes here) IF, the economy didn't suck so bad in the civilian world, then the people you didn't approve of with their reproductive baggage wouldn't feel so goddamn desperate to join the service to make ends meet for their families.

      When you see that many people joining with kids in tow, then look at the regular economy and consider what is wrong with it, to make those people desperate.

      "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

      by GreenMother on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:08:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, I call BS (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene, waterstreet2013, Oh Mary Oh

      Last time I checked the DA 6 didnt include an E category for married.  So either your story is BS or your DA 6 was being run fraudulently.  Thats a leadership problem, not an Army problem.

      The Army G1 would have a beef with your assertion that every recruit comes with a wife and kids.  Overall married rate has gone from over 60% in FY 95 to less than 54% in FY13.  Unless you have been a very unsuccessful SFC the rate of married personnel has gone down every year you have been on active duty.

      It is well that war is so terrible -- lest we should grow too fond of it. Robert E. Lee

      by ksuwildkat on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 07:31:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, it doesn't and yes it was run fraudulently (0+ / 0-)

        I went in and asked to see the DA6.  That is when the SGM gave me the "You single soldiers need to cover down to give the married folks some down time"

        It happens - a lot - it IS a leadership problem and that makes it an Army problem.

        It gets even more fun when the "leadership" decides to merge the FSG (Family Support Group) and the BOSS (Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers) functions.  The FSG gets more money and the single soldiers get to do "family-friendly only" functions.  

        Make the suggestion that a function be without kids and it's Katie, bar the door, the spouses flip out and start "explaining" how the Army is supposed to work with respect to priorities - which never seem to include the mission, for some odd reason.

        Then there is the whole "Spouse out of control" adventures, where said spouse shows up at the place of duty and proceeds to tell the entire chain of command that Joe's home life is more important than the current mission.  

        Or the spouse has managed to get themselves knocked up while Joe is deployed (It happens a lot more than you would think - the adultery rate in the military is double that of the civilian sector.)  And demand that we "fix" the problem.  Suggesting that said spouses keep their knees together while Joe is deployed doesn't seem to have occurred to them.

        Or the "I'm divorcing my husband  - I found True Love at the club with 24 hours of Joe's deployment" racket - which ties directly into suicide issue.

        Did I mention the whole "I deliberately fucked up my dependent care packet so I won't be deployed" game?

        You only need a couple of these fuck-ups to wreck an entire company.

    •  It used to be (0+ / 0-)

      If the Army wanted you to have a wife (now a husband too I would imagine) it would've issued you one. I fully understand your irritation.

      "My one hobby is maintaining a Democracy. If you get these 500,000 soldiers advocating anything smelling of Fascism, I am going to get 500,000 more and lick the hell out of you and we'll have a real war right here at home. - General Smedley Butler, 1933

      by Dave925 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 09:28:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is what "Running like a business" is like (5+ / 0-)

    You know, everything in America should be run like a business. Longer deployments, pay and benefits that don't keep up… This is what the business world calls "increasing employee productivity" - getting more work out of them for less pay. It's supposed to be a good thing.

    It increases shareholder value - more tax cuts for the 1% - who also are the military-industrial-government complex. Although... you never see it applied to the executive suite level for some reason.

    In an economy with a labor shortage, you'd never see this because businesses wouldn't be able to keep people in crappy jobs at low pay. They'd leave to follow the money - and they'd get it too. You'd almost think there are people out there for whom keeping unemployment numbers high is a deliberate policy, to stack the deck in favor of employers.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Apr 16, 2014 at 08:42:03 PM PDT

  •  Why on earth would the people at the top of (6+ / 0-)

    military-industrial-petro-complex cut into their own profits, when they can suck the lower enlisted ranks dry instead?

    Here is an unfortunate truth. The military needs the civilian populations of voters to look out for them in the polls and especially in the legislature.

    That's who determines the budget and where the money goes, they is who determines if we go to war, and for how long and with whom.

    That's who determines funding for VA programs.

    So as long as the civilian population ignores these things, and as long as military are not allowed to protest in uniform together or to strike like other workers then the fat cats in that Military industrial Petro Complex, and the Fat Cats in the system of revolving doors between the Pentagon, Beltway and the MIPC will  pretty much have blank check privileges to screw over, those serving any way they want.

    Throw in a healthy dose of bagger-yellow-bumper-sticker-patriotism and it's enough to make this vet puke.

    And since we are looking at lower rank, and suicide rates, remember that person may think that a pay out of their service members insurance is a better deal for their family, than the red tape of the VA and their personal misery.

    There are all kinds of grenades to fall on in this world.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 05:01:49 AM PDT

    •  It's said that the military reflects (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the mindset of the civilians it serves.

      This is nothing more than the 1% in the armed forces having their way at the expense of the 99% who have to tolerate their bullshit in the name of being called "heroes" at home.

      Just like the 1% in civilian life who treat the 99% as one huge, gigantic money tit that they can suckle 24/7 while nobody says a word.

      Different games, same end results.

    •  These "Top People" want slaves. (0+ / 0-)

      Oh, they've got 'em.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:38:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In the Navy's not-too-distant past , "Steward" (0+ / 0-)

        was a rating which was essentially a servant who attended to line officers aboard ship, doing things such as uniform maintenance, meal service and other general butler-like duties. Not coincidentally, most of the men who served in the Steward rating happened to be black or other minority.

        This is no longer the case, as the rate was changed to "Culinary Specialist" and now includes anybody wanting to sling hash during active duty without being an employee of some over-priced contractor.

        If you want to call that "progress" - or a symbol of what progress is supposed to be - then go for it. But for my money as things now stand, there's probably better overall equality in the armed forces than in most any level of civilian life - because the neocon Rambo wannabees who like to brandish their iron penis envy in public haven't quite figured out that the color of blood is red for all races.

  •  why is the Army so hard hit (4+ / 0-)

    I mean as compared with the other services?

    why so many more suicides...?

    and why until recently do the Marines come close.....what changed for them a couple of years ago??? After a goodish spell around 2006.

    Is it Iraq/Afghanistan?

    •  Good question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      I'd like to see the #s on things like multiple tours, rates of severe injury, PTSD, etc to look for any relationships in the different services. And I'd be curious if personal issues like financial hardship and healthcare access are increasingly heavy psychological concerns, as I cautiously hypothesize here.

      I'm sure Iraq/Afghanistan, particularly the extended and repeated experiences, play strongly in the unfortunate equation.

      "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." -Keynes

      by UntyingTheNot on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 08:19:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Possibly because USMC started washing out (0+ / 0-)

      anybody with clear mental problems in boot camp.

      No more "Do you want to stay?" exceptions.

      The Army stayed in denial.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:41:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A short list of a few reasons for GIs to waste the (6+ / 0-)

    mselves, in addition to what's offered above:

    One of the fundamental frauds soldiers must learn to live with: Exaggeration or outright creation of “threats” --

    How the upper class lives, in the military version:

    Cognitive dissonance from reconciling the Soldier’s Oath and our collective “spreading democracy” myths with “kicking in doors in Kandahar” and “winning hearts and minds by killing some of them so they kill some of us so we kill some of them so they kill some of us…”

    Using the Troops as IED and ambush detectors, despite a hundred billion or more spent on technobureaucracy:

    Training-up local militaries and para-militaries so the trainees can turn around and shoot the Troops:

    Weapons testing on people who pose no threat to the US homeland, only to “US interests” in the form of corporate assets and resource-grabbing, and as part of a Grand Strategy of Global Network-centric Interoperable Babblespace that INCREASES insecurity of all types, all over the planet:

    Noses rubbed in corruption every day, from behavior of their officers and senior NCOs, to watching the Brass pay warlords bribes not to shoot up or burn military supply convoys before the materiel gets to whatever is supposed to be “the front.”

    Making the world safe for bumper crops of opium/heroin:

    And of course it’s not just bribing “the enemy” not to shoot at you: How about all this idiocy?

    How the fuck are “the Troops” supposed to deal with THAT?  

    Seeing “contractors” sitting on their asses and getting paid multiples of what GIs get:

    Awareness of the crappy “care” they will get as “thanks for their service” once they are too damaged to return to their units:

    “How ‘bout a hot breakfast before you send us out to kill some Hajjis and take some casualties on another idiot’s-dream patrol, Colonel?” : Sorry, Troop, they’ve been cut to pay for a wingtip on an F-35 and an hour’s operational cost for the General’s personal C-40 business jet…”  From the link:

    “On January 17, Congressman Bruce Braley wrote to Secretary of the Army John McHugh to express his concern. According to Jeff Giertz, Communications Director for the United States Congressman's office, he was prompted to do so after being contacted by the mother of one of his Iowa constituents who is serving abroad in Afghanistan.

    "I am troubled that the Army would deny any deployed troops three meals per day, regardless of force size," Braley wrote in the release. [TROUBLED, I say.]

    “These men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect the very freedoms we cherish. [This, of course, is total bullshit, but doesn’t it sound so, you know, patriotic and nice?] The exhaustive mental and physical labor that is required by soldiers to fight in harsh and unforgiving conditions is tremendous. We shouldn’t deny our troops something as fundamental as a proper meal."

    Bravo, Congressman! Did you have a hot breakfast today. or your choice of cold ones?

    Life, Liberty and the Purfuit of Happineff…

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 12:16:33 PM PDT

    •  That's one helluva list. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "Using the Troops as IED and ambush detectors" echoes any number of exit interviews out of Iraq.

      The SOB commanders would have troops mount up and drive around, just to ride around and get hit with IEDs and the odd sniper round. No actual mission during daylight hours.

      In Afghanistan it was different. There the troops would bleed for outposts. Then see SOB commanders pull back and give up the whole area.

      Roll of dice? Flip of coin? Certainly no tactical goals, no appreciation of long range objectives.

      No effort to back track the insurgent assassination teams. A prime blunder. That one had been learned in Vietnam and the Philippines -- you have to back track if you're going to locate the source and eliminate it.

      Plus, of course, we were fighting the wrong people. Moving south and killing both Taliban and Paki ISI (instead of giving ISI money) would have been the one and only strategy aimed to win the war.

      Impossible ??? Then fergeddaboudit. That war ain't winnable. So fight a different war altogether. Pick different enemies.

      Bribe whatever to keep a lid on the poppy/opium trade and bribe locals to kill anything speaking Arabic on sight.

      Do things the Afghan way. Which seems finally to be where things are going. Stupidity exhausted itself.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 04:55:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yeah, but just think about all the PROMOTIONS! (0+ / 0-)

        And MEDALS! And tear-jerking funeral exercises! And enough dead Troops to justify More of the Stupid Same! And all the beautiful flux of MONEY! And all the cushy billets for the f___ing officers and senior NCOs!

        If you ain't read "Catch-22," please do -- we got Milo Minderbinder, who'll use US B-25s to contract with the Germans to bomb his own troops for cost plus 15%, who runs the war zone as a Syndicate, where Everyone Has A Share!

        We had a supply sergeant who had custody of the trophy weapons we collected, in Vietnam -- kept under lock and key in part because our Brass was fearful of "friendly fire" AK and SKS rounds splitting their skulls. Sarge was found in a ditch with his throat slit, apparently because he was selling those captured "enemy weapons" back to the "enemy." No one claimed responsibility for the deed, could have been the "enemy," the dudes who now make the nice casual clothes you can buy at Walmart today, or guys from the 7th Cav not pleased with that kind of entrepreneurialism.

        People who pay for it. now and on into the misty dead-end future, just don't have even a tiny inking what the entity we now call "war" actually is... It's too much, too big, too far outside their comfortable patriotic bury-Johnnie-and-proudly-display-the-tri-folded-coffin-flag-in-a-Made-in-China-display-case, up on the home-fire mantel...

        "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

        by jm214 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 07:35:00 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Untreated PTSD issues and veteran suicides (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    represent the new DOD methodology for cost savings so they can build archaic weapons systems like Abrtams tanks, joint strike force fighters that kill their pilots and aircraft carriers that are floating targets for tactical ballistic missiles. It may sound cruel, but if anyone else out there has a better explanation, you're probably getting excited and looking forward to the Easter Bunny visiting your home this weekend.

    And who do we have to thank for underfunding the hell out of the VA? None other than the guardians of fiscal conservatism in the House of Representatives who block every single attempt to fully fund it.

    And yet after 20 years of Middle East wars and multiple deployments, somehow they manage to get themselves re-elected... multiple times, in some cases. Isn't that curious....

    •  We have a couple dozen Vietnam PTSD guys (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      here in town.

      Bad memories. Not much to deal with it. Guilt for killing civilians. Guilt for letting other Americans kill civilians. Lots and lots of bodies and the damn smell.

      2,600,000 dead Vietnamese (mostly.)

      At least you don't remember the smells.

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 05:00:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Respectfully begging to differ... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When an animal occasionally dies under the house and begins to decay, several unpleasant memories do come back.

        Also the odor of spent gunfire at the rifle range, smelling similar to cordite which I no longer visit because of it.

        I guess I was lucky: it took me a few years and a couple marriages to find my way back to humanity, but I did it... and I don't get into arguments with trash cans in the park. However, republicans somehow manage to get trash cans to vote for them.

        How do they do that?

  •  VA woefully understaffed, by design (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wasatch, UntyingTheNot, Oh Mary Oh

    WWII was the last war, IMO, whereby the combatants felt the need was vital, noble and totally necessary. The veterans in most cases did not seek services. The MIC is interested in profit and keeping oil and gas in the Middle East in play for American oil companies in U.S. Petrodollars. Treating wounded, confused, depressed and suicidal people after they come back is not profitable for the MIC corporations. It takes tax dollars they want up front, so our reps. do not budget enough. I worked for the VA and saw it all up close. Overworked and understaffed and top-heavy on the pay. If they budgeted adequate money to care for veterans the way they promise to, it would boggle the minds of Americans how much it cost to do it correctly. and they would never get their wars funded. You have Psychiatrists spending their time managing pills, not providing therapy. MD's have huge caseloads, especially in large cities. About 5% of Americans are directly affected by our wars. Big majority of the rest of them pay lip service and go on about their business.

  •  The money is being sucked away (4+ / 0-)

    By the mercenaries in the private contractors that are getting at least half the budget, without the oversight.

    Courtesy of the Republicans, who started all that.

    Women create the entire labor force.
    Sympathy is the strongest instinct in human nature. - Charles Darwin

    by splashy on Thu Apr 17, 2014 at 04:44:19 PM PDT

    •  imagine stopping that and turning them loose. (0+ / 0-)

      "Bye, guys."

      Gee, 100,000 or so troops who have been out on tours for effing ever. Average what? 1,000 contact days?

      Let's make them cops !!

      "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

      by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 05:04:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pardon my grim cynicism, but dead soldiers (0+ / 0-)

    don't file for benefits.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 07:43:43 AM PDT

  •  suicide and steroid withdrawal (0+ / 0-)

    Studies link steroid withdrawal, suicide

    A study cited by Brower during the hearings stated that 3.9 percent of 77 illicit anabolic steroid users followed by doctors attempted suicide during the withdrawal period.

    “We think of depression within the first three months of that withdrawal period,” Brower said.

    Researchers generally agree upon the mechanism through which depression can be invoked by stopping steroid use. Edward Klaiber, a Massachusetts-based researcher and clinician who studies the psychological effects of hormones like testosterone, said anabolic steroids used in larger than natural doses flood users’ systems with testosterone. The abuser’s own testosterone production is depressed in an attempt to keep the body’s hormones balanced and may not recover in the months after anabolic steroid use is stopped.

    PubMed Anabolic androgenic steroids and suicide

    In Iraq, some soldiers say steroid use was no secret.

    "No one really hid this," said Seth Manzel, an Army veteran who served from 2004-05 in Mosul, Iraq, with the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division. "I walked into a squad leader's room one time, and he was with another soldier who had his pants down around his ankle. He had a needle and was injecting that soldier."

    Manzel said about a half-dozen soldiers in his 35-man platoon used steroids. His roommate and several other soldiers took steroids purchased from American contractors who worked at the Mosul base, and they injected themselves with needles provided by medics, he said.

    Officers, he added, weren't eager to investigate steroid use.

    "If a captain sees his soldiers getting stronger at a quicker rate, that's not necessarily a bad thing," said Manzel, who now operates Coffee Strong, a Lakewood, Pierce County, coffee shop, and has been active in the anti-war movement.

    Some soldiers report steroid use among Army Rangers, who repeatedly cycle through war zones for months of difficult duty.

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