Suicides among Army enlistees at 26 year high.

The following news article more or less speaks for itself:

Army suicides at highest level in 26 years –

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new military report.

The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year’s high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001.

Last year, “Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts,” the report said.

This doesn’t seem to me like it should be a big surprise. These folks are, after all, serving in a war that is pretty depressing even for those of us who aren’t participating in it. I can only imagine how depressing it must be to actually have to fight it. I would also tend to think that suicides would go up anytime there’s an actual war taking place. It just demonstrates how important it is that our troops receive as much health care, including mental health care, as we can manage.

It’s just a shame that more often than not admitting you have a mental health problem is a sure way to have the Army punish you:

As NPR reported last year, numerous soldiers from Fort Carson who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan with serious mental health problems have been kicked out of the Army with few or no benefits. Those reports prompted a bipartisan group of U.S. senators, as well as officials at the Pentagon, to investigate Fort Carson. In turn, the public attention pressured commanders to pledge that returning soldiers would get better treatment.

It is unconscionable that we require our soldiers not only to fight an illegitimate war, but to go through multiple mandatory deployments and then when they show signs of health issues, particularly mental health, we kick them to the curb like so much trash.

Support our troops! At least until they’re broken and no longer useful to us it would seem.