Spc. 1st class Patrick henderson was an Iraq combat veteran who spent the last few months of his life as an Army recruiter which entailed cold calling dozens of people each day in an effort to sign up young men and women to serve in an increasingly unpopular war. If he complained about the 13 hour work days or the difficulties trying to persuade young people to join the armed forces, his superiors snarled back that Sgt. Henderson should be grateful he was in the United States and not serving in Iraq. Less than a year doing the recruiting, the sergeant went into his backyard shed and hung himself. He became at age 35 the fourth member of the Army’s Houston Recruiting Battalion to commit suicide in the past three years. His wife, Sgt. Amanda Henderson commented in despair: “Over there in Iraq, you’re doing this high-intensive job you are recognized for. Then, you come back here and one month you’re a hero, one month later you’re a loser because you didn’t put anyone in.”
There are 38 Army recruiting battalions and only one other surpasses Henderson’s in the number of suicide deaths. His mother said her son never complained but felt his work just sucked and he felt like a complete failure. Paul Rieckhoff, of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America said recruiting “is arguably the toughest job in the military” and the recruiters are constantly under great stress.
Sgt. Henderson saw extensive combat during his tour in Iraq and witnessed the death of several friends. However, once back home in the safety of America he was under constant pressure to produce and had to account for every minute of his time and face complaints he had not recruited enough young men and women. Is this the way American treats its brave men and women?