Time magazine tells us in its July 23 cover story that one U.S. soldier commits suicide each day. The magazine notes that “more U.S. soldiers have killed themselves than have died in the Afghan War” and then it asks, “Why can’t the Army win its war on suicide?” Part of the text of the article (for those who do not subscribe to Time) is available courtesy of Florida State University.
The article interviews two widows of men who committed suicide. One man sought help and were turned away. One story also examines a Army doctor in Hawaii who faced depression and who was rebuffed by Army mental health. Military officials told her it was “a family problem.” Soon, the doctor hung himself in the Army hospital in his full uniform. The Time correspondent concludes in this video that the “knocks on the mental health doors often go unanswered.”
Stigma is only one of the problems those who are depressed or struggle with PTSD in the military face. According to a 2010 New York Times article, the Army has 3,800 therapists and psychiatrists, two thirds more than it had in 2007. In the Times article, the author notes that too few soldiers are screened for mental health problems when they return from theater.The number of mental health professionals is too low and many are devoted to the security clearance process, the disciplinary process and “force readiness” (which means, in part, making sure people complaining of mental health problems return to the field of battle).
“The military still blames the soldier, saying it’s financial stress or family stress, and it is still waiting for the service member to come forward,” told Paul Sullivan, the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense.