Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Amid gloomy reports of high suicide rates in the US military, a new six-month study reveals what other consequences follow American deployments abroad.
A fact-based report published by The Washington Post in late May estimated that more than 20 percent of the US combat forces deployed to war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan return home psychologically damaged.
The report asserted that American soldiers suffer mostly from major depression and long periods of combat-related stress and show severe symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The trauma induced on American soldiers serving abroad is also the cause of an “exceptionally high rate of criminal behavior” that is, according to a new report, unleashed upon their return to their home towns.
The six-month study conducted by the Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper suggests that former soldiers who have committed “a string of killings and other offenses” attribute their conduct to “lax discipline and episodes of indiscriminate killing” during their deployment in Iraq.
The ex-soldiers stated that the “brutal conditions” in Iraq and the US Army’s “failure to provide proper treatment for stress” were partly responsible for incidents of rape, domestic abuse, shootings, stabbings, kidnappings and suicides.
“During their deployment, some soldiers killed civilians at random — in some cases at point-blank range — used banned stun guns on captives, pushed people off bridges, loaded weapons with illegal hollow-point bullets, abused drugs and occasionally mutilated the bodies of Iraqis,” reads the investigative report.
In December 2007, according to the report, a member of a US brigade wrote to senior Army officials about what he believed to be “war crimes” committed by the unit, including the shooting and dismemberment of a 16-year-old Iraqi boy and several civilians.
While the US Army has told the newspaper that it has found “no evidence to sustain some of these allegations”, it has confirmed that a number of soldiers involved in improper conduct have been dishonorably discharged.
The new report comes as Iraq has criticized Washington on various occasions over US inaction in the face of flagrant cases of US military abuses against Iraqi civilians.
Many Iraqi veterans in the US military have joined advocacy groups in voicing concern that the approach of military commanders and institutions may have contributed to the various mental disorders developed by the soldiers returning from Iraq.
The rise in high suicide rates in the US military — caused by PTSD and their experiences in Iraq — has prompted one senior American commander to go as far as order his soldiers to “tell somebody” before taking their lives.
“If you don’t remember anything else I say in the next five or 10 minutes, remember this — suicidal behavior in the 101st on Fort Campbell is bad,” Brigadier General Stephen J. Townsend told his forces in May.
Although soldiers return to America overcome with violent tendencies as well as feelings of despair and hopelessness, the United States has yet to take decisive action to resolve the crisis plaguing the country.
This article was posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2009 at 4:32 am