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No Suicides Allowed

14 May

“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.

“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.’ “

I quote 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,

“Adam wrote a note telling his dad, [Mike], ‘Sorry to be a disappointment.’ Then he shot himself inside a bathroom stall with his rifle.

“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?’ “

Off the top of my head and in one word, I would say typical.

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 and have been around for a long, long time—perhaps from the beginning of war itself.  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.

But 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.”

If all 100 counselors worked directly with the patients, that would equal a caseload of 400 men and women each. Since some of the counselors work in other areas, that makes the caseload even higher. It cannot be done, especially if proper charting (case write-ups) is required and if meetings are frequent (the military bureaucrats live for meetings to justify their existence).

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 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.”

Posted from Chandler, Arizona May 14, 2010



Tony Benn to BBC "If you won’t broadcast the Gaza appeal then I will myself"

26 Jan

Unlike the BBC I don’t have to be impartial, so here’s the appeal address:

Disaster Emergency Commitee (DEC)
Gaza Crisis
PO BOX 999

New Poll: Troop withdrawal timetable

23 Nov

Margaret Becket, the UK foreign secretary announced this week that British troops could be withdrawn from Iraq as early as next spring. What do you think? Is it too soon? Not soon enough? Should it include Afghanistan?

Vote in the poll which you will find in the sidebar, and air your opinion by leaving a comment here.

ps: you can find the result of the last poll (Labour leadership) in the post below.

Self awareness

22 Oct

According to the BBC

A senior US state department official has said that the US has shown “arrogance and stupidity” in Iraq.

Oh really? Do you think? This at least shows the beginnings of hope flickering. Acknowledging one’s mistakes is the first step on the road to putting them right.

Darfur – it must not become another Rwanda

16 Sep

In 1994 the world watched in horror as approximately 800,000 Rwandans were massacred in less than three months. Tragically, watch is all the world did, and little attempt was made to actually bring about an end to possibly the worst case of genocide in recent memory. You would think we would have learnt something from those days, but sadly it seems we haven’t, and a similar scenario is playing itself out in Darfur, with little intervention from the outside world.

We can not stand idly by and let a man made tragedy of this magnitude happen again. Up until now, troops from the African Union have managed to keep some kind of grip on the situation but due to a lack of resources and manpower they will be pulling out of the region at the end of the month, leaving many, many vulnerable people at risk of rape, robbery and murder. The UN have agreed to send in a peace-keeping force, but only with the permission of the Sudanese government – the very people who are responsible for the atrocities! This is a ludicrous idea, to use an analogy, it’s comparable to asking Hitler’s permission to liberate the concentration camps!

Tomorrow is the Global Day for Darfur, if you visit the site you can find out details of events in your area, even if you can’t attend such an event, visit anyway and add your name to the petition which will be sent to your elected representatives and also the UN. You could also pop over to Pip Wilson’s blog and read about an interesting idea he has for using technorati to raise awareness of the situation.

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A point for discussion

4 Sep

The War in Iraq is illegal. Millions of people marched against it.

But by definition the Nato action in the former Yugoslavia was illegal. It had no UN mandate.

So why were there so few complaints?

Point for discussion?

Oh and Spadgers Chirps is now open for business.

The al-Jazeera report.

4 Sep

I must have been napping because this one slipped right past me and didn’t even get a mention at the fix the law wiki.

PRESIDENT Bush planned to bomb Arab TV station al-Jazeera in friendly Qatar, a “Top Secret” No 10 memo reveals.

But he was talked out of it at a White House summit by Tony Blair, who said it would provoke a worldwide backlash.

This raises fresh doubts that the suspicious US claims that previous attacks against al-Jazeera staff were “military errors” are anything more than lies.according to blairwatch

After Blair’s threat to jail any editor who reports the Bomb Al-Jazeera memo, we thought there would be an outcry. Who would stand up for press freedom, or at least the freedom not to be bombed to buggery?

Not really surprising then that I learn that requests for the publication of the memo have been turned down.

And so if Mr Blair is threatening jail time for publication of this document just get me a copy. I’ll sign my full name to the bottom and publish it to every free hosting server on ever continent in the world. I’ll use every free portal so that Blair has to suppeona Google, Yahoo, AOL, Slashdot, BoingBoing and Godaddy. I’ll (ab)use my opensource development access to upload copies to servers of every university in the world and future participation be damned.

I’ll post it in every forum I can get to so that the UK must address companies big and small to get a takedown from definitive-hosting to Microsoft themselves.

While I’m at it I’ll post it to everyone in my address book and ask that they hide a copy too. While that’s sending I’ll add it to bittorrent and as many peer-2-peer systems as possible.

If I have time I will then foobar the PC so that they can’t even track where it might be.

When they come to drag me away it will be too late. Far too late.

Blair has broken too many laws and breached too many human rights in his quest to a police state and I, for one am now one really pissed off blogger.

They can torture me for all I care and I will never say who leaked the document to me.