Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Still doing nothing to address military suicides

The things that I have done that I regret
The things I seen, I won't forget
For this life and so many more
And I'm trying to find my way home
Child inside me is long dead and gone
Somewhere between lost and alone
Trying to find my way home
-- "Trying To Find My Way Home," written by Jason Moon, from Moon's latest album Trying To Find My Way Home

Jason Moon served in Iraq and his new album is Trying to Find My Way Home (which you can download from Amazon for $8.99).

Pamela Burton writes the Seattle Times
, "Hearing that 18 soldiers are killing themselves a day," about the huge number of suicides within the military. By contrast, Michael Schindler's piece for the Seattle Post Intelligencer demonstrates why that publication is no longer in print: "The Army has a new threat – and unfortunately it is an ongoing one that seems to grow regardless of the resources they throw at it – and that is service member suicides." What resources, Schindler?

They haven't done a damn thing except prints some pamphlets, put up some posters (bad posters and pamphlets) and tag onto the already existing (for civilians) suicide hotline. Only in the ___ed up minds of so many enablers would this qualify as doing a damn thing.

We noted Ashley Joppa-Hagemann in the August 15th snapshot. Her husband, Sgt Jared Hagemann, took his own life in June. Drew Mikkelsen (King 5 News -- link has text and video) reports:

She claims after he served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, drank too much and became violent.
His widow said the military knew of Hagemann's problems and did not do anything to help him.
"He was a problem and they didn't want to deal with him," said Joppa-Hagemann.
She said the Army is not being very helpful after his death either. She said she was told her husband will not be receiving a military memorial service.
"They said because they didn't want media coverage," said Joppa-Hagemann.

Kirsten Joyce (Q13 Fox) also covers the suicide of Jared Hagemann:

Twenty-five year old Ashley Joppa-Hagemann saw the change in her once charming and outgoing husband, staff Sgt. Jared Hagemann, after his very first deployment to Iraq.
"He came home, he was quiet, wouldn't look people in the eye, wouldn’t look anybody in the eye, he wanted to remain hidden, he didn’t want to be around people," Joppa-Hagemann said.
He shared with Ashley and his superiors his reservations about the mission. He was even diagnosed with PTSD, but Ashley said it fell on deaf ears.
"What they do is tell you it's normal, 'Man up,' everybody goes through it," she said.

Keith Eldridge (KOMO News -- link has text and video) speaks with both Ashley Joppa-Hagemann and Karrie Champion (Champion's son, Iraq War veteran Spc Jonathon Gilbert, took his own life) and Champion declares, "They may have all of these fancy-dancy little programs over there, but the guys have to go and find the help" while Joppa-Hagemann explains, "If you're going to ask for help, no matter what you're going to be, they're going to chastise you, no matter what."

The Secretary of Defense is supposedly responsible for overseeing the military (and above that office would be the president's). So why wasn't Robert Gates judged on his inability to lower the suicide rate? Why isn't Leon Panetta being asked monthly by Congress about the suicide rate and what he's doing to address it?

Why hasn't Barack Obama noticed the situation and grasped that the military doesn't seem able to address it and therefore brought in a civilian with suicide prevention training to implement a new program to address suicide within the military?

Nobody wants to do anything but, if put on the spot by being asked a question, pretend like they're just shocked and saddened by the suicide rate. Throw out a bunch of meaningless words and everyone nods and moves on to a different topic.

Congress needs to be offering oversight, the president needs to be addressing this.

Leon Panetta, the current Secretary of Defense, needs to be informed that the Congress and, more importantly, the American people will judge his success or failure in his current post by whether or not he's able to significantly decrease the rate of suicide within the military.

The fact of the matter is, it's currently so high that any real health care professional would consider reducing it a breeze. It's not as if it's 5% and you're thinking, "How can I cut it down to four?" Results should have been seen long ago. But, as we noted last week, "DoD is not serious about nor addressing military suicides."

And no one in government apparently is. Because if they were, the Secretary of Defense would have a set of goals to meet regarding this issue. Those goals would be reviewed publicly before the Congress regularly. And failure to meet those goals would mean resignation or termination.

How many more have to die, what is the magic total, before the Department of Defense and the White House are expected to address this issue and to solve the crisis? Or does everyone just get to keep collecting a pay check just because they showed up for work?

The following community sites -- plus Antiwar.com, Cindy Sheehan, Watching America and Adam vs. The Man -- updated last night and this morning:

News From Antiwar.comAnd Ruth's "Friends With Benefits" and Mike's "Isaiah, Third, Libya, 2012" went up last night but aren't showing up on the links. We'll close with this from Nick Meyer's "Prominent attorney who refused to betray Arab and Muslim clients speaks on civil liberties, life on terror watch list" (Arab American News):

The attorney-client privilege assuring confidentiality between the two parties is one of the most cherished rights of the American law system, but according to internationally recognized lawyer, author and professor Francis A. Boyle of the the University of Illinois-Champaign, government agents violated that privilege in a jarring summer 2004 visit.
Speaking to The Arab American News, Boyle confirmed recent reports that he was visited by two agents from a joint FBI-CIA anti-terrorist fusion center located about a 90-minute drive away in Springfield, Ill. in his office in Champaign, who attempted to persuade him to become an informant on his Arab American and American Muslim clients.
He said he repeatedly refused their requests to violate his clients' constitutional rights, only to find himself placed on the U.S. Government's terrorist watch list.
"There's five or six of them, and my lawyer informed me that I'm on all of them," Boyle said
"I filed an appeal but they told me, sorry, I would stay on the watch list forever until the agencies that put me on there took me off."
Boyle, who has represented several high profile Arab and Muslim clients in the past, also said the agents repeatedly questioned him about interviews he has given in various international media outlets that were critical of U.S. foreign policy towards Arab and Muslim countries.

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