War & Peace
U.S. Army Report: Suicides Down; Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Way Up
A new U.S. Army report released Thursday reveals a drop in soldier suicides but a dramatic rise in sexual assaults, domestic violence and other “destructive behavior.”
The Associated Press reports that a decade of war has taken a heavy toll on our nation’s soldiers. While suicides among active duty soldiers, National Guardsmen and Reserves last year fell by 9% from 2010 levels to 278 individuals, violent sex crimes and domestic violence soared by more than 30% since 2006. Child abuse is up 43% in that same period.
“There’s a lot of good news in this report, but there’s also some bad news,” Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli said at a Pentagon press conference. “We know we’ve got still a lot of work to do.”
“After 10 years of war with an all-volunteer force, you’re going to have problems that no one could have forecasted before this began,” he added.
The 200-page report was released to commanders, health care providers and other military leaders to help them assess the Army’s physical and mental health as well as disciplinary trouble zones and how the Army deals with them.
The report follows a 2010 report that said the Army could do much more to spot signs of trouble, and that Army brass turned a blind eye to problems in order to meet tight deployment schedules and the demands of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Chiarelli claimed that commanders are referring more soldiers to substance abuse programs and booting more misbehaving troops from the ranks. He also said the Army is tightening enlistment standards, which had deteriorated to the point where convicted violent felons and gang members were welcomed into the ranks in the 2000s, to preclude individuals with drug and alcohol convictions from joining.
Also from the report:
* Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now being called an epidemic, with as many as 472,000 service members suffering from the condition. Half of these are in the Army.
* There were more than 126,000 diagnoses cases of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) in the Army from 2000-2010. Chiarelli said that the military has taken “a huge step forward” in how is screens and deals with troops with TBIs, with longer rest periods after injuries occurred.
* There were 24,000 soldiers referred to substance abuse programs during the 2011 budget year.
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