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9/21/2012 10:54:00 AM
We must address soldier suicides
Catholic News Service photo
Soldiers take part in a re-enlistment ceremony
Catholic News Service photo
Soldiers take part in a re-enlistment ceremony

America lost more troops dead by suicide in July than actual combat deaths. What can be done?

This tragic story has been developing for years, in spite of initial efforts by the military establishment to suppress the facts. Now that the shocking details are coming out, no one seems to have an answer as to how to eliminate these deaths.

One theme running through most of the analysis points to the continuing deployments and the effects these have on troops and families.

Many of our warriors have rotated back and forth into combat zones upwards of five or six times so far in their careers. That is a high burden for the men and women who make up our professional military.

Other explanations include post- traumatic stress, misuse of prescription medications, personal financial problems and exposure to violent combat and roadside bombs.

Efforts by military authorities to provide counseling and other resources for the returnees have failed to stanch the sheer number of suicides, 38 in July alone.

Another factor contributing to the despair experienced by some returnees is the monumental challenges of finding jobs after the end of their service commitment.

For example, one university-educated, former active-duty Marine expert marksman, an Afghan war returnee, can fire three rounds in a dinner plate more than 10 football fields away. But this young man cannot find work in law enforcement; he is  competiting with hundreds of applicants for each opening. Surely some of his esoteric military skills ought to be able to be transferrable to the civilian workplace.

By hiring veterans we can help stem the suicides killing our warriors.

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