Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Iraq: making it out alive but not for long

The war in Iraq may be off the radar screen for many of us, but not for U.S. military personnel and their families.

In the month of April, 51 servicepeople died in Iraq, the highest number since last September. April injury numbers aren't out yet, and we know the military bigwigs do the best they can to obscure the real numbers, but documented physical injuries, serious enough to cause evacuation from Iraq, stand at at 29,395. Emotional injuries accompany the physical also, but you don't have to be bleeding on the outside to be in a world of trouble and pain.

Suicide is the final symptom of emotional distress, and apparently the Department of Veterans Affairs and its Secretary James Peake have been deliberately underplaying just how high veterans' suicide rate, especially Iraq veterans, really is.. Today Peake testified at the House Veterans' Affairs Committee where he was accused of criminal negligence in the cover-up of the suicide crisis.

One age group among veteran suicides really stands out: the 20 to 24 year olds. Their suicide rate is two to four times higher than the same age group among civilians.

In November, 2007, CBS News broke a story on veterans' suicide rate.
At a December Congressional hearing, Director of Mental Health Services for Veterans' Affairs Dr. Ira Katz said that CBS's numbers weren't accurate.
Today, the CBS numbers were confirmed.
More than 120 suicides a week; more than 1,000 attempts a month.

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