|Suicide and Medals of Honor|
|Tuesday, 24 August 2010 10:53|
Translated from an arabic article
By: Jassim AL Shammari
The 21st of August 2010
It is said that Hitler in the Second World War, as he was pointing to a piece of copper, he said that he would conquer the world with it. And truly enough he did a great deal of what he said. He even devoted a factory only to manufacture medals of Honor, which greatly increased the eagerness of his officers and soldiers to carry out his invasions. So many the medals were in quantity on the uniforms of some officers, that another story says at one point Geuring a German General, had so many medals that he no longer could fit on the front of his uniform, so he had to put an arrow pointing to the side, and in one of the public events, a woman asked him, why do you have an arrow pointing to the side of your uniform, Geuring replied, it means that the remaining amount of medals will be found on my back, we don't know if this really happened, but the awarding of medals of honor continues in armies worldwide to this hour.
This little introduction brings us to today's armies, mainly the US military which is deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The activities and tasks which are carried out by the US military in Iraq, starting with basic violations of human rights to criminal activities against the people of Iraq, have resulted in thousands of casualties between these forces either killed, injured, and mentally disturbed personnel at the best.
Despite all the efforts of officers and psychiatrists, they are not able to reduce the fears in the psyche of their soldiers, because of the brave resistance, which has caused so many casualties, amongst the occupying forces. This resistance was triggered by the American behavior and persistence in the occupation of Iraq, the officers of the occupying forces know very well before anyone else, that the amount of crimes they have carried out against the people of Iraq, against the civilians, against those who have been detained while walking in small alleys or residential areas and were held under suspicion, others who were being victims of the US forces daily raids, or were in the detention camps and secret torture chambers run and supervised quietly and away from the eyes of Media, by the US intelligence agencies. They know that this is the Iraqi people’s response to these crimes.
A month ago the failed suicide attempt of a British officer Johnson Beharry, raised more fears of the negative implications of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan especially after the combatants return to their home environment and societies. Mr. Beharry was a highly decorated officer who served in Iraq since 2003. One of the medals he received was the Victoria Cross, which is only presented to those who have served their queen and country and was awarded the medal by the queen herself in 2005 for his claimed heroism in Iraq. With a little research we can find out that he was on the receiving end of the battle most of his time, and tried his best to save himself and fellow soldiers and officers twice from imminent death. Mr. Beharry also came under light when in November of 2009 when a ceremony was held to commemorate the fallen; he refused to shake the hand of Gordon Brown for his belief that the Late Prime Minister "Did not respect the Armed Forces". He also added that he contacted the new Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron and his minister of defense Mr. Liam Fox and offered his help to assist in relieving the mental strain of the soldiers coming back from the two occupation wars, as the figures of returning soldiers with mental disorders is on the rise.
Mr. Beharry also added that he himself suffered great depression as he attempted to take his own life because of what he experienced. He still experienced Back pains and other parts of is body to unbearable extremes at times. He also said that most soldiers returning from the two conflict zones suffer from similar symptoms, and asked the new government to address this problem before some may attempt to take their own lives or the lives of those around them.
On the 15th of April 2010, the Time magazine unveiled a story about a similar increase in suicide attempts among their soldiers as well. The Story goes back for five years and has caused high-ranking officers a great deal of inconvenience. It Also mentioned that the number of confirmed suicides of soldiers serving in Afghanistan reached 817 people from the beginning of the survey five years ago to the summer of last year. The number of suicide attempts kept increasing despite all the funding that was spent on the extra psychiatric help being provided. The Times also mentioned that the increase was caused by the continued redeployment of units that had already served and suffered tremendously. General George Casey was very disappointed by this news and has expressed this disappointment in front of a congressional hearing. Senator John McCain’s comments in front of the armed forces committee of the US congress were not so optimistic either, when he stated that overcoming the suicide rates will not be a problem that will be solved so quickly.
The Times also added that despite the fact that disappointing and uneasy are not words that can be used by US military high ranking officers in the norm, the two were forced to use these terms to express the situation. Between 2001 and 2006, 160 Soldiers attempted suicide, and for 2008 alone, the number was 140, and in 2003 it was 77 soldiers.
Lance Magazine also carried out a survey, which included 10,000 soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They found out that 20 percent of the soldiers had mental issues and the number of heavy consumers f alcohol amongst them has also increased tremendously. And that this will be a problem that needs to be dealt with by the new British government.
On the 17th of July 2010, the Pentagon Records showed record high figure in the number os suicide attempts in the US armed Forces. 32 Soldiers committed suicide in the month of June alone. This figure was the highest since the Vietnam war.
In 2009 the number of suicides was 244 attempts, The Pentagon also circulated videos of the effects that lead to suicide to its soldiers in an attempt to raise awareness. In these videos fellow soldiers who also suffer from their depressions discuss their symptoms and how they overcame their tendency to commit suicide.
It is also noted that the percentage of suicide rates is now 22 cases for every 100,000 soldiers. Which is a rise from the 18 attempts for every 100,000 soldiers previously known. This will be a new challenge to be added to the list of challenges facing the new Obama Administration and the US Congress.
General Chiarelli who heads the suicide task force in the department of defense, said that the army allocated large resources to combat this case but unfortunately the new programs set up did not really put a cap on the number of suicides.
Another study conducted previously and was acquired by CNN revealed 128 suicides took place in 2008 in addition to another 15 cases still under investigation, if these cases are confirmed then the total suicide cases for 2008 will increase to 143. These figures cover the National Guard members of active duty and other reserves.
Finally on the 17th of January 2009, USA Today stated that the number of soldiers who commit suicide increased from 52 in 2004 to 110 in 2006.
This is only the declared picture of the situation with suicide rates of these soldiers. These same soldiers who commit war crimes and atrocities in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of fighting terrorism. The same soldiers who attack civilians day and night and are called heroes, we don’t know till when do these double standards exist in the Western side of this planet. Till when does the rule of the jungle rules this world. This Terrorism which is a term yet to be defined after a decade of this war still people do not know what defines terrorism and still with no definition to what constitutes state sponsored terrorism like that carried out by the US on daily basis.
As for the real Medals of Honor; they are awarded by the innocent and poor, to those who defend them and their right to decent life. They are awarded to the free men who refuse the dark forces and their aggression. They face the thieves who set sail in the high seas to steal the resources of nations and exterminate their peoples. Those Medals should be awarded to the truly free who will be cherished by future generations to come, as they never rest till they force out the last occupying soldiers from their land and country.