Swampland has a post today about Adm. Mullen’s unpublicized comments to a group of journalists during a breakfast meeting.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was talking of the military’s ability to fight future wars Wednesday when he suddenly changed gears. “We had five suicides in the Army last weekend,” the nation’s top military officer abruptly volunteered. And, he warned, such horrors are only going to grow.
He almost seemed to spit out these words, unbidden – as if to push them out quickly might temper their sting. “I think we’re going to see a significant increase in the challenges that we have in terms of troops and our families,” Mullen continued. As the demands for troops in the war zones eases, problems are going to rise as war-weary soldiers return home. “Things that have been pent up, or packed in, or basically suppressed or sucked up — whatever term you want to use — we’re going to start to see that as well,” he warned at a breakfast meeting with reporters.
“Dealing with PTSD, dealing with the injuries, dealing with just the overall pressures that so many have dealt with for so long,” Mullen said, “I think we’re going to see a growth in that before we see a decline.” But there remains one challenge that trumps all others. “The emergency issue right now for me is the suicide issue,” Mullen conceded. “It’s a very difficult problem.” Suicide in all the military services “has gone up dramatically since 2004.”
His distress is understandable, and I have little doubt the things Adm. Mullen lists are contributing to the problem. In the back of my mind, however, I think the problem is much deeper that he admits.
Consider the condition of America after nearly a decade of wars. The economy’s in the dumps and some claim defense spending is slowing the recovery. Congress is in gridlock. Infighting among the most senior levels of the chain of command has broken onto the public stage. American foreign policy is in disarray. The Commander in Chief appears to be indifferent to victory and playing politics with the conflict. And if one believes the hype, America is losing its place in the world to China.
What sane person who stepped up to defend America and its ideals wouldn’t despair? I can’t help but think many of these troubled men and women have asked themselves, “Have I been fighting for this?”, and don’t like the answer.
I know I’ve asked that question.
And I don’t like the answer.