Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Army Cites Drop in Suicides Among Soldiers

The overall mental health of U.S. soldiers in Iraq has improved from the early months of the insurgency, with a significant drop in suicides, but a majority still say morale is low, the Army said Wednesday.

An assessment by the Army surgeon general found that among soldiers interviewed last fall in Iraq and Kuwait, depression, anxiety or acute stress was more prevalent among National Guard and Reserve soldiers, as well as regular Army soldiers in transportation units, than among soldiers in combat units.

The report, dated January 2005 and covering the period from late August to mid-October of 2004, was a follow-up on a similar assessment done a year earlier, when the insurgency was taking hold. The earlier assessment found that mental health services were not adequately available to soldiers in Iraq and Kuwait and that a significant number of soldiers said they had little or no training in how to handle combat stress.

The follow-up report said mental health services have improved, with a higher ratio of behavioral health personnel to soldiers than in 2003. The number of suicides for the full year 2004 had declined to nine from 24 in 2003. Three possible suicides from 2004 are still being investigated.

Sure, I agree that it is wonderful that the numbers of our soliders who are killing themselves is going down. But c'mon now -- if things have gotten to a point that a reduction in the numbers of our kids being killed by their own hands is the closest we can come to good news about The Quagmire, we are in a pretty sorry-ass spot.


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