An internal Army report obtained by the Washington Post shows that the suicide rate among soldiers in 2007 was almost 20 percent above the rate in 2006 and that the number of self-inflicted injuries and attempted suicides has increased six-fold since 2001. In 2007, 121 soldiers took their own lives and around 2100 soldiers injured themselves or attempted suicide (compared to about 350 who did the same in 2002). The report found that the main reasons that caused soldiers to seek to end their lives were failed personal relationships, legal or financial problems, and the frequency and length of overseas deployments. David Rudd, a former Army psychologist and chairman of the psychology department at Texas Tech University, notes that these rates raise “real questions about whether you can have an Army this size with multiple deployments.” In VFA’s opinion, the evidence clearly indicates that you cannot.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has determined that, months after Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson promised new screenings for traumatic brain injury (TBI), the department has still not determined how to gauge the accuracy of these screenings. There are also problems with patients who receive positive screens not receiving follow-up appointments. These, among a list of other problems, are just the first inklings of the scope of the problem veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will face as they return in ever greater numbers.
Finally, a report led by Gen. James Jones (USMC, ret.) has found that NATO forces and the Taliban are in a “strategic stalemate” in Afghanistan. The level of violence in Afghanistan has been steadily rising over the past year.
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