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U.S. soldiers are committing suicide at an alarming rate. NBC News reports that through November 2012, 177 active-duty soldiers had committed suicide. In all of 2012, 176 soldiers were killed in action while serving in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Russia Today reports the suicide rate is much higher when you take into account soldiers who have returned home from combat. According to their report, nearly 500 American troops and veterans took their own lives last year.
Many soldiers feel they will be looked at as being weak or denied promotion if they seek mental health aid. Families of some suicide victims blame the military for not doing enough to help troops deal with the stress of combat.
“The Pentagon hasn’t spent the money that it has for suicide prevention for this year — and that money wasn’t nearly enough money to reach all the soldiers who need help. Now we are hearing about bureaucratic technicalities at the Pentagon that are preventing them from acting. This is unconscionable,” Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Washington, told NBC. “The Pentagon is funded to help soldiers and needs to do much more on the epidemic of suicides."
The Department of Defense says that they are working on this growing epidemic and that "anti-suicide programs installed throughout the armed services soon will curb military suicides — and that such initiatives already have helped douse mental-health stigmas."
"We have seen several programs that we are optimistic are going to start making a dent in this issue," said Jackie Garrick, acting director of the DOD suicide prevention office. "We’ve asked all of the services to use the same messaging, the same talking points. So the Army, included in that, is trying to adapt and promote those same messages because we realize that this is an across-the-board problem."
Tim Kenney of the Army National Guard says that he battled suicidal thoughts when he returned home from the war, but was able to overcome them. He thinks many servicemen have a hard time adjusting back into civilian life.
"What these guys end up doing is I think is they feel 'I can't cope anymore with civilian life.' A lot of guys end up killing themselves because they don't think they will ever fit back into normal society," Kenney told Russia Today.
Do you think the military is doing enough to help U.S. soldiers with this growing problem?