I served in the armed forces during the Korean War and among the most important aspects of being in the conflict was the realization that one only remained in combat for a specific amount of time and then went home at the conclusion of the term of enlistment. Today, there are thousands and thousands of members of the military who are on their third or fourth, and, even in some cases, the fifth deployment in a combat area. In 2008, at this time, there were 51 confirmed suicides in the armed forces. Suicides went up in May to 17 after dropping to 10 in April but he total for 2009 as of this date is 45 confirmed suicides and 37 pending further investigation. Among reservists there were 23 suicides among reserve soldiers as of this time a year ago and this year there are 16 confirmed suicides and 21 potential ones.
There is no question the armed forces are trying to reduce suicide. But, the reality is that 1.5 million men and women are defending a nation of over 300 million people and the emotional cost is horrific for those who serve in combat. Among the obvious solutions is some form of draft, an idea no one wants to mention.