A study by the Department of Veterans Affairs concludes that Reservists and members of the National Guard who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq comprise a majority of all suicides by veterans between 2001 when the invasion of Afghanistan took place and 2005 when the United States was actively involved in Iraq. Soldiers from these two groups constitute 53% of veteran suicides from this period. Of the 144 suicides during this time, 24% were from those who served in the Reserves and 29% from members of the National Guard.
Paul Riedhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes there has been inaequate counselling available to these veterans and the continued pressure of being away from families over an extended time period, has been damaging to many who served. “National Guardsmen and reservists are literally in Baghdad one week and in Brooklyn the next, and the transition is tough.”
The nation has asked tremendous sacrifices of those in the National Guard or Reserves. They are deployed for 18 months from family and their careers, and, all too frequently head back for anothe 18 months. The United States of America has failed these gallant individuals by refusing to either curtail such military ventures or obtaining the necessary manpower to carry them out. This is simply another legacy of Bush’s tragic mistakes in the Middle East.