Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Real US Military Death Toll From the War in Iraq

The Bush Administration is not supporting our troops and as a result thousands upon thousands are dying both at home and abroad.

Let’s put two and two together, and in the process demonstrate that the US military fatalities resulting from the War in Iraq are much greater than previously reported. First off, let's look at the number of military personnel dismissed from the Army, without subsequent support or benefits, for so-called personality disorders. According to NPR:

“New Pentagon figures … show that since the United States invaded Iraq, officers have kicked out far more troops for having behavior issues that are potentially linked to post-traumatic stress disorder than they did before the war.”

“… an Army chart, which NPR recently received, shows that since the United States invaded Iraq:

— Commanders have discharged almost 20 percent more soldiers for "misconduct" than they did in the same period before the war;

— Commanders have discharged more than twice as many soldiers for "drug abuse" (a subset of the "misconduct" category);

— Commanders have discharged almost 40 percent more soldiers for "personality disorder."

In all, the Army has kicked out more than 28,000 soldiers since the war in Iraq began on the grounds of personality disorder and misconduct.”

(Click here to read the entire NPR Report)

These soldiers are basically given what amounts to a dishonorable discharge and are not eligible for VA medical care or other benefits. They are almost uniformly misdiagnosed and actually suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and as a consequence of their dismissal are not able to get proper psychological treatment. It can be assumed that such soldiers would be very susceptible to major psychological distress including an increased potential for suicide.

Next, let’s add in the following ingredient, the actual incidence of suicide amongst vets who served in Iraq versus earlier pre-war vets and the public at large. As CBS reported on Veteran’s Day there is a suicide epidemic amongst Iraqi War vets. What CBS found was that:

“In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.

Dr. Steve Rathbun is the acting head of the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at the University of Georgia. CBS News asked him to run a detailed analysis of the raw numbers that we obtained from state authorities for 2004 and 2005.

It found that veterans were more than twice as likely to commit suicide in 2005 than non-vets. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000, compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.)”

(Click here to read the entire CBS Report).

We can extrapolate that over the five years of war there has been an excess of at least 15,000 service related suicides relative to pre-war numbers, certainly a direct consequence of the trauma these vets have suffered in battle and the lack of concern or care for them after their “homecoming” The real death toll of the Iraqi War is therefore more like 20-25,000 rather than the 3700 acknowledged battlefield fatalities. These delayed deaths are just as tragic and even more inexcusable, since they could have been easily prevented with proper counseling. For all their pious pronouncements about "supporting the troops," the premeditated mistreatment of these vets and their resulting deaths, must be laid at the doorstep of the criminal Bush Administration.

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