6000 US Veterans Killed Themselves In 2005
Your New Reality
Friday November 16, 2007
More American US veterans are dying by their own hand back home in one
year, than have died in battle in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
It's impossible to comprehend the horror that these men and women
experienced, and witnessed, that made them unable to keep living once
they were home from the war. But the story of the 'Malboro Man', James
Blake Miller (see below) provides some insight into life during and
after the war in Iraq for American soldiers.
A report from CBS News exposes some of the appalling statistics of the
homeland carnage :
* In 2005, more than 120 American war veterans took their own lives
each and every week. That is more than double the national US suicide
rate. As a rough rule, for every successful suicide there are usually
three or four who try and fail to kill themselves.
* More than 100,000 vets are seeking help for mental health issues.
* More than 52,000 were trying to get help for PTSD alone. And that's
only the veterans who have come forward.
* Of 90,000 vets returning from Iraq, 28% had mental health problems.
* Vets are 11% of the general population, but make up 25% of the
United States' homeless people.
Note : this story has been corrected after more research and a third
viewing of the CBS News story made clear that it was 6000 veterans of
America's wars since World War 2 who took their own lives in 2005, not
6000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. On a first viewing of
the CBS News story, the introduction gives the mistaken impression
that the 6000 veteran suicides figure was related to only veterans of
the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Regardless, it is still a shocking
number of post-war suicides, and considering the high rate of PTSD in
Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, it is only likely to climb higher
unless more help is made available to these veterans.
The infamous 'Malboro Man', James Blake Miller(above) is just one of
the hundreds of thousands of American 'War on Terror' veterans whose
life has fallen apart since returning from the warzone.
Once hailed by the American media, particularly Fox News and
conservative bloggers , as a true American hero, he has now been
abandoned by those who used him as a recruiting tool. He suffers from
PTSD, his marriage fell apart, he has battled the urge to take his own
The lives of the 'Malboro Man' and his photographer, Louis Sinco, who
captured the iconic image image during the Battle Of Fallouja, have
become intertwined once more , years later.
It's a truly remarkable story of survival, slow recovery, the horror
of war and PTSD, and the bond formed by two men who were thrown
together by the rough tide of American history.
Some excerpts, and quotes from Miller, from the story written by
photographer Louis Sinco :
Miller told...how empty and confused he had felt when combat
ended. How he had placed the barrel of an M-16 assault rifle in his
mouth on the outskirts of Fallouja one day, taken a deep breath and
reached for the trigger.
"What made me so special that I deserved to stay here and my
buddies didn't?" Miller asked, speaking of friends who had died. "At
one point, I was almost mad at them. How could my buddies leave me
like that? We came together. We were supposed to leave together. I
don't know how you can disconnect that feeling."
He told us about an event that haunted him. From an observation
post in Fallouja, he had seen a head pop up amid the wreckage of
several cars. It was a free-fire zone. He squinted into his rifle
scope, saw a patch of dark curly hair and squeezed the trigger.
Later, Marines advanced on the scene and found a dead boy, 6 or 7
years old, his curly hair mottled by bits of brain and blood.
There was more, he said -- terrible things he couldn't divulge.
Not now. Maybe never.
As Miller and I drove back to West Virginia, news crackled over
the radio. The Democrats had routed the GOP in the midterm
congressional election. Public sentiment about Iraq had soured, and
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, the architect of the war, was
Miller had mixed feelings. "That's good news, I guess," he said.
"But it should've happened a long time ago. Everybody that's dead now.
I mean, what's the point?"
It was Nov. 9, 2006 -- two years after I took the famous picture
of Miller and a year after he left the Marines.