Surge — Send In the Sick Soldiers

Trauma ward: George Bush’s plan to pour more troops into Iraq will likely mean sending some soldiers who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s a recipe for disaster, but can’t be helped because the all-volunteer army ain’t got depth. This is a story the Pentagon does not want you to know:

Between Christmas and New Year’s 2006, five U.S. soldiers committed suicide after being informed they’d been ordered to serve an additional tour in Iraq.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can emerge after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. A person experiencing PTSD can lose touch with reality and believe that the traumatic incident is happening all over again.

Pentagon doctors estimate that 12 percent of the 1.5 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Newly revised Defence Department guidelines for service-members with “a psychiatric disorder in remission, or whose residual symptoms do not impair duty performance” say they may be considered for duty downrange. It lists post-traumatic stress disorder as a “treatable” problem.

Many believe President George W. Bush’s newly announced plan to send 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers to Iraq will involve the redeployment of soldiers suffering from severe trauma. Press reports indicate Bush wants to implement his “surge” by speeding up previously scheduled redeployments and extending the tours of soldiers already in the field of battle.

That reality has increasing numbers of soldiers taking matters into their own hands.

Between Christmas and New Year’s 2006, five U.S. soldiers committed suicide after being informed they’d been ordered to serve an additional tour in Iraq. In Iraq itself, the military announced on Dec. 30 that soldier Michael Crutchfield of Stockton, California killed himself north of the capital, Baghdad.

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