We’ve heard the stories before. Soldiers in Iraq have committed suicide, others have attempted. The Army is prosecuting, according to The Washington Post:
In a nondescript conference room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside listened last week as an Army prosecutor outlined the criminal case against her in a preliminary hearing. The charges: attempting suicide and endangering the life of another soldier while serving in Iraq.
Her hands trembled as Maj. Stefan Wolfe, the prosecutor, argued that Whiteside, now a psychiatric outpatient at Walter Reed, should be court-martialed. After seven years of exemplary service, the 25-year-old Army reservist faces the possibility of life in prison if she is tried and convicted.
Military psychiatrists at Walter Reed who examined Whiteside after she recovered from her self-inflicted gunshot wound diagnosed her with a severe mental disorder, possibly triggered by the stresses of a war zone. But Whiteside’s superiors considered her mental illness “an excuse” for criminal conduct, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.
At the hearing, Wolfe, who had already warned Whiteside’s lawyer of the risk of using a “psychobabble” defense, pressed a senior psychiatrist at Walter Reed to justify his diagnosis.
“I’m not here to play legal games,” Col. George Brandt responded angrily, according to a recording of the hearing. “I am here out of the genuine concern for a human being that’s breaking and that is broken. She has a severe and significant illness. Let’s treat her as a human being, for Christ’s sake!”
I can’t even begin to comprehend what is happening here. Our fighting men and women are placed in extreme danger, in Hell. Their time in Iraq is extended. Some are sent back for two or three tours of duty. And some simply cannot take it any more.
This is not at all an article advocating suicide, nor an admission that this is the only alternative for those fighting in Iraq. If any of our veterans or soldiers currently serving read this, I have the utmost respect for you and your service to this country. I cannot imagine what you have gone through, or what you are going through if you are serving now.
This country is far too punitive, in every respect. We can’t build prisons fast enough. We have a problem, and our only solution is, “Lock-em up!” But prisons do not build a healthier society.
We all get one shot at life. Some have chosen to serve the United States of America in the Armed Services, and our Coward-In-Chief has put them in harms way. The Coward-In-Chief has yet to attend a single funeral for one of the fallen. The Coward-In-Chief never served, and neither have his children.
The Coward-In-Chief has damned these young people to Hell-on-Earth.
Those who command should spend more time with those who know something about the so-called “psychobabble”, and realize what they are doing to our young people.
Prosecution for an attempted suicide? This is a solution only for those who have ceased thinking, or those who have given up looking for solutions. We need to ask the big questions, and cease the clichés. Soldiers attempting suicide is a real problem, and these petty, simplistic prosecutions are no solution for those trapped in Hell.