As Bush destroys our military, Army desertion rates skyrocket

According to the Associated Press:

Soldiers strained by six years at war are deserting their posts at the highest rate since 1980, with the number of Army deserters this year showing an 80 percent increase since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.


As DWG diaried, on Wednesday, a new study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports that:

The prevalence of reporting a mental health problem was 19.1% among service members returning from Iraq compared with 11.3% after returning from Afghanistan and 8.5% after returning from other locations (P<.001). Mental health problems reported on the postdeployment assessment were significantly associated with combat experiences, mental health care referral and utilization, and attrition from military service. Thirty-five percent of Iraq war veterans accessed mental health services in the year after returning home; 12% per year were diagnosed with a mental health problem. More than 50% of those referred for a mental health reason were documented to receive follow-up care although less than 10% of all service members who received mental health treatment were referred through the screening program.

Now, let’s be clear about something: anyone who makes it through basic training is pretty damn tough. Tougher than most of us can imagine. It is not easy to break a soldier. It is not easy to drive a soldier to desert. It takes a special breed of irresponsibility and failure to drive up desertion rates. A special breed of irresponsibility and failure from above. Like from the very top of above. Like from the ostensible Commander-in-Chief.

As CBS News reported, in July:

About 38 percent of soldiers and 31 percent of Marines report psychological conditions such as brain injury and PTSD after returning from deployment. Among members of the National Guard, the figure is much higher – 49 percent – with numbers expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments.

And this list of links explains why:

Overused and over-extended.

Christian Science Monitor: As of the beginning of 2006, Stop-Loss policy had prevented at least 50,000 troops from leaving the military when their service was scheduled to end.

USA Today: Multiple deployments are adding to the troops’ stress.

United Press International: Nearly two-thirds of polled veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars consider the military over-extended.

Spiegel Online: Troops stationed in Germany are increasingly going AWOL rather than be cannon fodder for Bush’s insanity.

New York Times: The army had to revise updwards its understated desertion rate.

Boston Globe: West Point graduates are leaving the military at the highest rate in three decades, as repeated tours of Iraq drive out some of the army’s best young officers.

Los Angeles Times: Both Republican and Democratic governors warned Bush that using National Guard troops for his escalation was overburdening units already stretched to their limits.

Associated Press: Two army brigades had to forgo their desert training to accomodate Bush’s escalation schedule.

Associated Press: Deployed single parents are having to fight to retain custody of their children.

CNN: In April of this year, tours of duty were extended from 12 to 15 months.

New York Times: Republicans killed Senator Webb’s attempt to give troops more down time between deployments

Inadequately protected

New York Times: A 2006 study showed that eighty percent of marines killed from upper body wounds would have survived, if they’d had adequate body armor.

Newsweek: Troops have been having to improvise their own vehicle armor, because the military hasn’t been providing the real thing.

Washington Post: Even as the escalation began, thousands of Army Humvees still lacked FRAG Kit 5 armor protection.

Inadequately cared for, when wounded or scarred.

Salon: The Veterans Administration knew as early as 2004 that there were serious problems with the conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center- and did nothing.

Salon: The Department of Defense also knew about the problems long before public exposure and the resulting outcry forced them to actually do something about it.

National Public Radio: Veterans are receiving fewer medical disability benefits now than before the war.

MSNBC: Up to twenty percent of Iraq Vets may be suffering Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Washington Post: A Pentagon task force concluded that the available medical care for those troops suffering psychological problems is “woefully inadequate.”

Actually being sent back into battle, when medically unfit.

Salon: Wounded soldiers classified as medically unfit for battle were being reclassified as fit, so they could be sent back into battle.

Salon: These reclassifications were done to provide enough manpower for Bush’s escalation.

Salon: Even soldiers with acute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder were being sent back to Iraq.

Anyone who makes it through Basic Training is both physically and psychologically strong; but the abuse suffered by our troops at the hands of the Bush Administration is too much even for many of them. It is unprecedented. How unprecedented?

As Stacy Bannerman wrote, in Foreign Policy in Focus:

Pentagon statistics reveal that the suicide rate for U.S. troops who have served in Iraq is double what it was in peacetime.

Soldiers who have served — or are serving — in Iraq are killing themselves at higher percentages than in any other war where such figures have been tracked. According to a report recently released by the Defense Manpower Data Center, suicide accounted for over 25 percent of all noncombat Army deaths in Iraq in 2006. One of the reasons for “the higher suicide rate in Iraq [is] the higher percentage of reserve troops,” said military analyst James F. Dunnigan.

This isn’t just a humanitarian issue. It’s not just about abusing the very people who willingly put their lives on the line in case we and this nation ever actually do need protection from an actual threat. This is also about undermining our national security. This is why Congress needs to stand strong in opposing him. This is how they sell it to the public: George W. Bush is breaking our military personnel, and destroying our military. Defending America means stopping Bush.


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  1. military healthcare and specifically, mental healthcare needs of active and medically discharged military.

    Tangentially, remember when Major General George Weightman was the first to be shitcanned from Walter Reed after Priest and Hull reported for the WaPo?  My bullshit detector went off because he had only been there 6 months, and in healthcare, No huge overall systems changes happen in just six months.  As I investigated, it appeared that he had, in fact, made enormous and rapid changes to bolster the number of case managers there, and that staff, patients and families, all loved the guy. Well, finally, the AP reported this week, that he’s been given a decent command of Army medical research at Fort Detrick.  At least he’s one person who isn’t going to suffer a career-ending fate due to being – competent. /rant

    • psyched on November 16, 2007 at 21:27

    Putting all these factors together in one diary shows how incredible and appalling the situation is.

    What incentive would a person have to join the military now if statistics show that he would have nearly a 50% chance of returning with mental problems (if he indeed returned alive)? Mental problems aren’t “all in your mind”–something you can overcome with will power. They are genuine medical problems and won’t disappear easily. And the chances the government will get you actual help for them are small.

  2. To ask a human to go against all the mores that keep us from descending into the the swamp of degradation of our lowest instincts, to cloth this in security and patriotism is truly the height of tapping into the worst of humans. Why wouldn’t they dessert? This is inexcusable.

    They all did it the Germans, the Russians, US, the Ottomans, the Romans,any old nasty group run amok, all who wish to bring us to killing for Empire. No thanks, security does not rest with killing and Military might. On the other hand mercenaries are worse. Why are our choices left to supporting the killing and on the other side supporting the killing. I chose neither and hope some day there will be a war in which no one shows up. Nowadays we have the hired guns to worry about, jeez it’s insanity all around. The ‘troops’ are played like the emotions that call for blind support.      

  3. my way through this.  It’s a super sucking bummer of a ginormous degree and howling to four winds hasn’t helped me much with it.  I have wanted the Iraq situation to end and this is how it really is going to end even if the Republicans will deny it until they can’t anymore…….it will end because we don’t have the forces to go on any longer. And if the idiots had tried to draft the serfs would have risen up and smote their WMDless asses.  It is a NATIONAL SECURITY ISSUE though and so much of our equipment is in all honesty sort of just barely hanging in there and there isn’t much that we are really going to want to haul back home but we will.  The military is broken, many of their minds have been broken, many of their families have been broken, the equipment is broken, the bank is broken, the Geneva Conventions have been broken Om Mani Padme Hum!

  4. why kill or threaten in the name of security? why are these people enemy? As Mohamed Ali said (or paraphrased) I got nothing against the Iraqis, or Iranians or Syrians or Russians or Afghanistans and on and on until we own the world ? And kill the world? No more right through might, stick flowers in the guns.    

  5. contacting John Carr?  I have been essentially lifting and cross-posting his most excellent work from his blog, The Main Bang, to several posts here.  

    Today in the comments on his blog, he expressed interest in crossposting to DK (in a generic sense). So I natch suggested Docudharma as a new crossposting group blog home.  

    John is the past president of NATCA – the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (the entity after PATCO’s shootdown by RayGun). His writing is so wonderful that it would be a coup in a good sense to have him on your contributing editors roll.  Plus, the guy writes a lot – and it’s all top-notch, hair-on-fire reading.

    His email addy is on his blog: john at teamcarr dot org.

    Hope to see him around these parts, real soon.

  6. Now, let’s be clear about something: anyone who makes it through basic training is pretty damn tough. Tougher than most of us can imagine. It is not easy to break a soldier. It is not easy to drive a soldier to desert.

    Gushing at those manly men.

    They aren’t “tough” they are moral degenerates and weak willed sheep.  They are trained to be weak willed sheep.  Their training makes them mentally fragile — and let’s face it most of them were marginal at best to begin with.

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