How Many Troops Do You Think We Have Lost?
by James Glaser
May 11, 2007

Our government puts the number of American troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan at 3,382 and 389 respectively. That totals out to 3,771. What would you think if that number were really many thousands more? Well, it is!

CBS News, reports that about "1,000 veterans who receive VA care commit suicide every year, and as many as 5,000 a year among all living veterans. These numbers come from the VA's inspector general report, in which it is also reported that "Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are at increased risk of suicide because Veterans Administration clinics do not have 24-hour mental health care available, and internal review found."

We are now in our fifth year of fighting in Iraq and in our sixth year in Afghanistan. One third of all returning troops show some signs of Post Traumatic Stress, and there are now waiting lists for veterans waiting for help. Here is an example of what happens when a vet is put on one of those lists.

    Told to wait, a Marine dies
    VA care in spotlight after Iraq war veteran's suicide

    By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff | February 11, 2007

    STEWART, Minn.—It took two years of hell to convince him, but finally Jonathan Schulze was ready.

    On the morning of Jan. 11, Jonathan, an Iraq war veteran with two Purple Hearts, neatly packed his US Marine Corps duffel bag with his sharply creased clothes, a framed photo of his new baby girl, and a leather-bound Bible and headed out from the family farm for a 75-mile drive to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

    Family and friends had convinced him at last that the devastating mental wounds he brought home from war, wounds that triggered severe depression, violent outbursts, and eventually an uncontrollable desire to kill himself, could not be drowned in alcohol or treated with the array of antianxiety drugs he'd been prescribed.

    And so, with his father and stepmother at his side, he confessed to an intake counselor that he was suicidal. He wanted to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

    But, instead, he was told that the clinician who prescreened cases like his was unavailable. Go home and wait for a phone call tomorrow, the counselor said, as Marianne Schulze, his stepmother, describes it.

    When a clinical social worker called the next day, Jonathan, 25, told again of his suicidal thoughts and other symptoms. And then, with his stepmother listening in, he learned that he was 26th on the waiting list for one of the 12 beds in the center's ward for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers.

    Four days later, on Jan. 16, he wrapped a household extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself.

Every day there are more and more veterans asking for help at Veterans Administration hospitals and clinics. Nobody is reporting just how many of them are on waiting lists, but every time a returning War on Terror veteran commits suicide, his or her name should be added to the number of troops killed in this war.

If Washington wanted to be honest with the American people about the number of military personal killed so for in these two wars, they would add the thousands who have killed themselves after returning home from their tour in the combat zone.

Post Script:

If the treatment of veterans here at home wasn't bad enough, now we find that the troops we have in Iraq are fighting and dying, while the Iraqi government is planning to take a two month vacation.

George Bush tells us that our troops will be able to come home, when the Iraqis are able to stand up and fight for themselves. It now looks like we are going to have to wait until after their vacation is over before we see any more progress in that direction.

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