Why Are Army Recruiters Committing Suicide?

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?

  • journeyer58

    I have a friend who was an Army recruiter for many years. He was typically at any event where there was young people and they were receptive to him on a personal level.
    However, he spent many hours away from home doing a thankless job and sometimes as is the case, telling “white lies,” to get younger men and women to join the military.
    While I agree that the military needs representatives to showcase the careers that are
    available to those so inclined, in a time of war/conflict, the recruiters job is the most reprehensible of all the jobs in the military.
    Should someone approach any of your children,
    or any young person, regarding the joining of them to the military, shout, scream, and let it be known that you are against the military’s tactics of persuading young people to join.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    Of course, army recruiters stay away from high schools in high income areas of America.

  • Margaret

    My son was a recruiter who committed suicide about 6 months into the job. He failed to make mission the first couple of months mostly for reasons like kids who hid their rap sheets or couldn’t make a minimum score on the test, etc. He tried to get reassigned back to his or another infantry unit. But then he made it one month and the next so he realized they weren’t gonna let him go. He worked hard at it. But the comment that stuck out for me was that in Iraq it was “one for all” and in recruiting it is “every man for himself”. He could tell an 18 year old boy what he wanted to hear but it was harder to talk to their mothers. Finally, with the long hours, lack of friends, a break up with a girl and being really sick with the flu he took a TheraFlu hot toddy and more vodka on top of that, took out medals and a commendation and put his revolver to his head. When that grey sedan pulled up to my home the next Monday, when he had not reported to work and some poor soldier had to go to his apt, I told them they must be wrong. My life has been a deep hole ever since.

  • http://www.theimpudentobserver.com Fred Stopsky

    My sincere condolences for what you have experienced. God bless you and your family.