By Vincent Aldazabal
This is dedicated to the memory of thousands of U.S. soldiers who have died as a result of combat and thousands more who have committed suicide.
When I attempted to ask Mr. Rove after he spoke here on campus about suicides in the U.S. Army, he claimed to have felt a rain drop and began to depart, leaving a very crucial question unanswered.
What about suicides in the U.S. Army?
Simply put, our troops mustn’t be expected to assume responsibility for this as a risk involved. It shatters logic and makes scapegoats of the very heroes that should’ve desperately needed rescuing.
According to a statistic put out by the Navy Times in August 2012, at the time, there was a suicide amongst returning U.S. soldiers every 27 hours.
Time Magazine was perhaps the only major news outlet to give a fully transparent look into the suicides of U.S. soldiers, which at the time in August stood at 2,676, surpassing the death toll of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan of 1,950.
Now, to return to modern American history, we can see that the tragic deaths of American citizens as a result of 9/11 has shaped our perception of not only the loss of life on a national level but how we grieve as a whole.
These thousands of deaths of American heroes weren’t and are not a result of combat but Post Traumatic Stress due to combat. Furthermore, the families of the heroes who have taken their own lives are the last people who should have to be experiencing this tragedy. The assertion must be made that these suicides are not simply a byproduct of war and perhaps this is the point I wanted to make to Mr. Rove. While in August it stood that $2 billion have been allocated to mental healthcare by the military, it simply isn’t working. More importantly, our current president and elected officials aren’t setting enough time aside to present this issue before congress.
Every year on the anniversary of 9/11 the flag is raised at half mast and proper ceremonies are given to commemorate the fallen heroes and everyday American citizens. As a nation, I believe we must make a more deliberate effort to allow these suicides to be a part of our national level of consciousness, one that was evident in the aftermath of the Civil War and 9/11 terrorist attacks. Once more, a day will come when the nation realizes the trauma of these suicides and in the future may be more hesitant in supporting further assertion of military authority around the globe. In considering this one might look to Romney’s and Ryan’s calls for further increases in military spending.
In addition, to make a pertinent political point, why hasn’t President Obama addressed this as a major and effective piece of his healthcare plan? Furthermore, why are Governor Romney and his running mate more concerned with affording major tax breaks for the incredibly wealthy and not funding a comprehensive bill that would bring relief to the families grieving and preventive measures against suicide?
It will not be until the United States as a whole becomes effectively conscious of this tragedy, and that our politicians make this a top priority, that justice and closure can be brought to these families. Until then my heart breaks for these heroes and their families and I am sure so do the hearts of many other Americans. All that I can hope for is that they are as willing to fight for those who pay the ultimate price in a most disheartening manner.