An Epidemic of Military Suicides

by TOM McNAMARA

Box me up and ship me home

Pin my medals upon my chest

Tell my mom I’ve done my best

– Marine Corps Cadence

Rennes, France.

On June 10th of this year, Daniel Somers, a veteran of more than 400 combat missions in Iraq, killed himself. One more name to be added to the list of US veterans who have committed suicide.

It’s a very long list.  And it is growing at an astonishing rate. Just about every single hour, of every single day, another name gets added to it. What America’s enemies could not accomplish in hostile zones, American society appears to be able to do with complete abandon; facilitate the death of US soldiers.

It’s quite an impressive accomplishment when one thinks about it, really. In 2012, the number of active duty soldiers who killed themselves was greater than the number killed in combat (about every other day a US soldier committed suicide). The same was true for 2011.

The family of Daniel Somers agreed to make his suicide note public. It can be found here.

In his final letter Mr. Somers says that he “was made to participate in things, the enormity of which is hard to describe. War crimes, crimes against humanity.” He says that to return to society and to “move on in life after being part of such a thing would be the mark of a sociopath” in his mind.

He goes on to talk of being sick and injured, and of having been abandoned by his government in his time of need. Furthermore, he tells us that he is fully aware of the crisis currently going on in the US with regards to veteran suicides, citing the statistic that the number of veterans who kill themselves per day is greater than the number of children killed at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

Think about that for a minute. The suicide epidemic among US soldiers and veterans is the equivalent of one Sandy Hook massacre every single day.

Finally, Mr. Somers talks of the freedom and peace that suicide will bring him, no longer having to be subjected to the pain, nightmares, flashbacks or hallucinations caused by what he saw and took part in Iraq.

It has been estimated that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a direct result of the US led invasion of 2003. According to the principles put forth at the Nüremberg War Crimes Tribunal and the founding charter of the United Nations this is clearly a war crime that borders on being a crime against humanity. The war in Afghanistan and America’s use of targeted drone strikes (in what can only be described as a terror campaign) can also be considered as war crimes.

One lowly US soldier found it impossible to live with himself due to his perceived complicity in America’s war crimes.

How President George Bush and President Barack Obama can unapologetically live their lives knowing the deeds they have engineered, committed and are responsible for is unconscionable.

Tonight President Bush and President Obama will sleep quietly in their beds. If we lived in a correct and just society they would be on trial.

For murder.

Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, and a former Visiting Lecturer at the French National Military Academy at Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan, France.

Notes

 

655,000 Iraqis killed since invasion” by Sarah Boseley, October 11th, 2006, The Guardian.

“I am sorry that it has come to this: A soldier’s last words” Suicide note of Daniel Somers, Published in Gawker. Accessed at: http://gawker.com/i-am-sorry-that-it-has-come-to-this-a-soldiers-last-534538357

“More U.S. soldiers on active duty committed suicide than died in combat last year, shocking new figures reveal” January 4th, 2013, The Daily Mail. Accessed at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2256924/More-U-S-soldiers-active-duty-committed-suicide-died-combat-year-shocking-new-figures-reveal.html#ixzz2XJi6Nz7P 

“Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nüremberg Tribunal and in the Judgment of the Tribunal, 1950” Report of the International Law Commission covering its Second Session, 5 June – 29 July 1950, Document A/1316. Accessed at: http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/390

“Suicide Rate Among Vets and Active Duty Military Jumps” – Now 22 A Day by Melanie Haiken, February 5th, 2013, Forbes. Accessed at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/melaniehaiken/2013/02/05/22-the-number-of-veterans-who-now-commit-suicide-every-day/

“The Charter of the United Nations” June 26, 1945. Accessed at:  http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/intro.shtml

 

Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, and a former Visiting Lecturer at the French National Military Academy at Saint-Cyr, Coëtquidan, France.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal