And story about Sgt. Brian Rand helicopter mechanic and casualty of dubya's war. His time in the Green Zone could not have been easy:
According to the Army, more than 2,000 active-duty soldiers attempted suicide or suffered serious self-inflicted injuries in 2007, compared to fewer than 500 such cases in 2002, the year before the United States invaded Iraq.
A recent study by the nonprofit Rand Corp. found that 300,000 of the nearly 1.7 million soldiers who've served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from PTSD or a major mental illness, conditions that are worsened by lengthy deployments and, if left untreated, can lead to suicide.
In spite of all that, the Pentagon sent him back to Iraq. He returned, according to the article, sometime in 2005 - and went back in November of that year. He finally made it back out in August, 2006 and killed himself 6 months later.
Once while wounded soldiers were being evacuated by helicopter in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, Rand waved at a man he knew. The man turned and Brian saw that half of the man's face was ripped off.
Brian later told his sister he was shocked by how white the bones looked under the flesh.
Then one day, while standing guard near the Green Zone, Rand killed an Iraqi man.
"The spirit of the man that he killed didn't leave him, it kept harassing him," Somdahl said of her brother. "He said this guy is following me around in the mess hall, he's trying to kill me. I told him to leave me alone but he says he wants to take me with him.'"
Then there's the story from the Fort Worth Star Telegram:
On July 11, 2007, in a violent Baghdad neighborhood, Master Sgt. Jeffrey R. McKinney killed himself. He put his M-4 rifle to his neck and pulled the trigger.
There was no Purple Heart, and the Defense Department announced it as a "non-combat-related incident."
But Jeffrey McKinney, 40, a company first sergeant and a 19-year Army veteran, is no less a casualty of the war in Iraq than the thousands of young men and women who have been killed by sniper fire and roadside bombs.
Some injuries just can't be seen.
Senator McCain, by the way, says we're winning in Iraq.
Suicides hit a record high in the Army last year, and attempted suicides are up dramatically, most certainly because of the hardships of long and frequent tours away from home, the psychological stresses of guerrilla warfare, perhaps even the prevalence of traumatic brain injuries resulting from repeated concussions.
The Army and the Marine Corps have put in place numerous mental health programs, in Iraq and at bases stateside, to help troops deal with the fallout of combat. But Jeff McKinney and the 120 other soldier suicides last year are proof that the measures are falling far short of their intentions.
Dubya, in his Memorial Day speech, only mentions three troops killed much earlier in his war:
- Marine Captain Ryan Beaupre, killed 3/21/03
- Marine Lance Corporal Darrell Schumann, killed 1/26/05
- Army Sgt Michael Evans, killed 1/28/05
This is how dubya discussed Sgt Evans:
Army Sergeant Michael Evans of Marrero, Louisiana, felt the same way. He was killed on January 28th while on patrol in Western Baghdad. In his own farewell letter to his family, the 22-year-old reminded those he left behind to stay strong. He said: "My death will mean nothing if you stop now. I know it will be hard, but I gave my life so you could live. Not just live, but live free."
Notice anything interesting? He doesn't mention the year Sgt Evans was killed (2005) and so anyone listening or reading the transcript would assume that dubya was saying that Sgt Evans was killed this year.
It's a small point but the Sgt's message to his family (and by extension, the rest of us) would invariably mean something different if we knew it was made 4 instead of 40 months ago. Without knowing the Sgt was killed in early 2005, we're left to assume that he's imploring us all not to stop now. Now, after more than 4,000 dead rather than about 1,500.
No one knows what Sgt Evans would think about the war now. But without the inclusion of the year of his death, we're left with the impression that he'd want the war to continue now.
Dubya's speech writers had to know this (as for dubya himself, who knows?) and yet allowed this subtle manipulation of the truth to enter this speech.
I wonder how they sleep.