Mentally Ill Troops Reportedly Forced Into Combat
Posted on May 14, 2006
Combat troops in Iraq are being kept on duty even after exhibiting signs of psychological distress. Eleven such members of the military killed themselves in Iraq in 2004-05, according to the Hartford Courant.
Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.
Once at war, some unstable troops are kept on the front lines while on potent antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, with little or no counseling or medical monitoring.
And some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone, increasing the risk to their mental health.
These practices, which have received little public scrutiny and in some cases violate the military’s own policies, have helped to fuel an increase in the suicide rate among troops serving in Iraq, which reached an all-time high in 2005 when 22 soldiers killed themselves - accounting for nearly one in five of all Army non-combat deaths.
The Courant’s investigation found that at least 11 service members who committed suicide in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite exhibiting signs of significant psychological distress. In at least seven of the cases, superiors were aware of the problems, military investigative records and interviews with families indicate.
From the Hartford Courant
Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn, 25, a young father and third-generation soldier who committed suicide last year while on his second tour of duty in Iraq. His superiors “knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice, according to Army investigative reports and interviews,” reports the Hartford Courant. Henthorn is shown here in Iraq with a young girl he befriended. He told family members he was tormented by memories of having shoved a boy off a moving tank and watching the boy?s limp body slip under the wheels.