Now here's a touchy subject -- recently there's been spate of suicides by Marines who have just returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan. But here's the really touchy part: These suicides have all taken place on stateside Marine bases. One Marine recently escaped from a hospital at Camp Lejeune, got hold of a gun somehow and shot himself right there on the base. And another Marine at Quantico jumped in front of a train.
However, the Marine high command at these bases is fully aware of this problem and is doing something about it. According to one official Marine publication, "Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the Marine Corps. Even one death by suicide is too many. It is a tragic and preventable loss, causing untold grief to loved ones and units, and is of highest concern to the public, legislators, the Commandant, and all Marines. In addition, suicide and suicidal behavior at all levels can take a tremendous toll on the readiness and resources of the unit involved. For all these reasons, suicide awareness, prevention, and intervention must be of highest priority to all Marines, and especially Marine leaders." Returning troops at the major stateside Marine bases are now being routinely shown training films and PowerPoint presentations regarding how to deal with suicidal tenancies -- but still. You gotta be pretty damn desperate to jump in front of a train. How many more of our Marines are that desperate? And if so, how did they get that way?
Here's my personal opinion, based on time spent in Iraq embedded with the Marines. I may be wrong about this, but here it is. "American Marines compose the finest fighting force EVER. Forget about Romans and Spartans. Our guys are the best." So what happened? Why all the suicides? "Because our Marines are being stretched far too thin. American Marines are being asked to defend the interests of an international corporate structure that has its octopus-like tentacles spread out all over the entire globe. That's far too much territory to expect even our fabulous Marines to defend."
But what inflames me even more is that the international corporate structures that our Marines are so gallantly defending aren't even American corporations! Perhaps one day long ago they USED to be American corporations -- but that was back in the days before outsourcing.
Our Marines are being asked to stick their fingers in [dams] all over the world so that wealthy international corporations all over the world can reap the profits. It's not even Americans who are reaping the profits any more. No wonder our Marines are so stretched. They are daily and constantly fighting the never-ending battles of Endless War so that men who owe NO allegiance to America -- or American workers or American Marines either -- can make grossly disproportional profits off of others' pain.
Our Marines are being ridden hard and put away wet so that corporations who don't even pay taxes in America can still have their billionaire bottom lines protected.
And our Marines do this, day after day, year after year, serving hard time in places like Iraq and Afghanistan and Kenya. And WHY do they keep doing it? Because they are Marines -- the best fighting force EVER. And our Marines' abilities are not only being wasted by being spread too thin throughout the world to the point that when (not if) we will someday need them here at home, there may well be too few of them left to defend America proper and it will be too late.
The international corporations benefit from our Marines' presence. And the Marine Corps pays the price. And, apparently, individual Marines are paying an even greater price. This fractured practice of using and misusing our Marines has just got to stop.
PS: According to the Jacksonville Daily News, "Camp Lejeune Marines...in the aftermath of the death of a colleague who shot himself during a police chase aboard base Monday said instead of the needed psychiatric treatment they sought they were given a cocktail of antidepressants and sent back to work." Yes, nine long years of constant war does have a tendency to grind our troops down. Even World War II didn't last that long.
And we may have unearthed just the tip of the iceberg here. According to Jacksonville's www.jdnews.com, "A total of 48,086 mental health related visits for all Naval Hospital clinics aboard Camp Lejeune were recorded in fiscal year 2009. In fiscal year 2010, there have been 26,609 mental health related visits through March 31, said Lt.j.g. Tony Skrypek, department head for TRICARE Operations at Naval Hospital."
Also, according to Salon magazine , PTSDs may still not be getting properly treated at Camp Lejuene -- despite all the recent PowerPoint presentations going on. "Internal documents and e-mails show that Navy officials unfavorably doctored a psychiatrist’s performance record after he blew the whistle on what he said was dangerously inept management of care for Marines suffering combat stress at Camp Lejeune, N.C."
PSS: And here's a quote from my usually reliable Marine Mom source: "I've heard several Marines say that Afghanistan is the 'Worst place on earth'. So instead of sending our Marines out to fight in the countryside over there, let's start sending out the Afghan Army and Afghan police troops that we have been training for approximately 10 years -- and leave the U.S. troops back on base."
Marine Mom also sent me this videoabout the recent Nashville flood disaster: "Shouldn't some of our money have gone to help Nashville -- instead of pouring billions into Afghanistan?"
PPPS: The Marines aren't the only ones being ridden hard and put away wet. The American people are too. While corporatist lobbies are happily siphoning America's wealth off in order to protect their own interests, we could have used all that money on preventive infrastructure measures back here at home, so that the Nashville flood could have been prevented -- not to mention the Ohio flood and Katrina.