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Posted by on May 12, 2009 in War | 1 comment

U.S. Soldier Kills Five Fellow Soldiers in Iraq

There’s really nothing I can say about this that isn’t totally obvious, so I’ll just post it without comment:

An American Army sergeant shot and killed five fellow soldiers following an altercation at a counseling center on a military base in Iraq Monday, officials said. The attack drew attention to the issues of combat stress and morale among soldiers serving multiple combat tours over six years of war.

The suspect had been disarmed after an earlier incident at the center but returned with another weapon, according to a senior military official in Washington, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation into the shootings was ongoing.
A brief U.S. statement said the assailant was taken into custody following the 2 p.m. shooting at Camp Liberty, a sprawling U.S. base on the western edge of Baghdad near the city’s international airport.
President Barack Obama, who visited a base adjacent to Camp Liberty last month, was shocked by the “terrible tragedy,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Obama planned to discuss the shooting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

After a meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama said he would make sure “that we fully understand what led to this tragedy” and will do everything possible “to ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected as they serve our country so capably and courageously in harm’s way.”

Okay, I’ll say one thing that doesn’t come up in the article, but it’s crucially important. The problem of suicidal depression, war-related stress, and mental health problems in general among U.S. troops in Iraq is made much worse by the macho culture within the military that communicates to veterans, in every way possible, that only wusses have emotional and psychological problems related to war service. Obviously, money needs to be spent on making sure the services these soldiers need are available. But as long as the “Buck up and be a man” attitude continues to be the prevailing one in the military, men and women for whom these services are literally a matter of life or death are going to find it very difficult to reach out for help when the stigma against being “mentally weak” is so strong.

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