Showing posts with label military. Show all posts
Showing posts with label military. Show all posts

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Military Suicides...and Ultrarunning

Via Skippy, here (on 1 Dec), I got rerouted to McClatchy, where I read that 20% of all military deaths last year were from suicide (301 known self-inflicted deaths). 

That's a staggering fact.

That item was an incidental statistic in the article, whose main discussion centered on whether service members who fail in a suicide attempt should then be prosecuted for bringing discredit to the service.

From the article:

Active-duty members of the military who succeed in killing themselves are treated as having died honorably. Active-duty members who try and fail may be prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice if the suicide attempt is deemed conduct that causes “prejudice to good order and discipline” or has a “tendency to bring the service into disrepute.”
 

Yes, that's the answer: throw the book at somebody who is so desperate that they attempt suicide.  That'll stop the problem.

I am just thankful that my family has never faced this issue personally.  I am thankful that my circumstances and personality are such that suicide never occurred to me as a solution to anything.  And perhaps this is a stretch--but I really think it's not--I credit Ultrarunning for helping keep me grounded and away from the abyss.

 

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2012/11/27/175710/in-suicide-epidemic-military-wrestles.html#storylink=cpy

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Military Suicides

Via Corrente, where DCBlogger points us to Military Times:


The Army’s biggest failure: Losing the war on suicides

Facing an enemy it can’t seem to defeat, the Army continues to lose more soldiers to suicide than to combat in Afghanistan.

So far this year, the Army has reported 212 suspected suicides — 132 active-duty soldiers and 80 National Guard or Army Reserve soldiers who were not on active duty when they died.

During the same time period, January through August, the Army lost 171 soldiers in Afghanistan. In FY2011 there were more than 1,000 known suicide attempts.

Army leaders don’t know why the service is seeing a spike in 2012, Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno told Army Times.



DCBlogger sadly observes, "Clearly they are being asked to do things that they cannot live with. We need to end the war now."

Note that the numbers above do not address suicides in the other services. 

I'm one of those people who think that "where there's life, there's hope," and I can say this with the experience of having been to some very dark places in my life.  But obviously the epidemic rates of suicide among the Army family is indicative of some very dark places indeed.

The double whammy is not just the victim is gone...forever after, the person's family and friends will always carry the burden that somehow they failed, they didn't do enough, they missed something that would have somehow made a difference.  

And that's a terrible legacy.

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

“War to me is an Oblique Place"…and Ultrarunning

Nearly two years ago I did a post on Emily Dickinson and how she, in 7 words, in a marvelous use of spare language, managed to sum up the meaning of war.


Not much has changed since I wrote that post in 2010, nor since she wrote her letter to a friend some 140 years ago, puzzled, saying "War to me is an oblique place." 

War still is an oblique place, and we keep going there.  Violence seems to be the first resort and not the last one.  I think it’s because we are armed to the teeth, and when all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.  Our military budget is equal to about half of the world’s military expenditures. Put another way, we spend around $700 billion annually on our military, plus or minus…and so does the rest of the world put together.

So when the Very Serious People who run this country say that we can’t afford Medicare or Social Security, what they really mean is that those programs get the crumbs from the table after we’ve fed the military.

See here, here and here for some representative data sources.

Oh, and the link to Ultrarunning?

When I’m running on a trail, the world gets small.  It’s me—the body aspect consisting of my heart, lungs and legs—but mostly my mind, just savoring the solitude.  I don’t wish to dominate the trail or anything I see.  I don’t care to fight with any creatures, great or small.  I have no desire to compete for resources, or deny anything to anybody.

All I wish is to be left alone in the pursuit of happiness.

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cause and Effect = Hard, I Guess

As usual, the Earth-Bound Misfit gets it right on our obligations to those who served in America’s armed forces.  She is commenting upon reports that the White House is sending out feelers about possible budget-balancing cuts to military retiree benefits (profanity left in for emphasis):

If we, as a nation, are unwilling to shoulder the financial burden of caring for our military retirees and veterans, then this is what we should do: Stop making so many veterans by getting into wars. When the shooting starts, there are going to be maimed veterans who will need care for the next eighty years. If that cost is unacceptable to the politicians, then stop sending men and women off to fight. No fighting, no combat veterans to care for-- that should be a simple enough equation for even most politicians to grasp.
 
If we don't want to pay for so many military retirees, then cut the size of the armed forces and cut back on the global presence that we have had since the end of the Second World War. If, on the other hand, you want to have that global presence, then suck it up and realize that when someone on active duty completes a twenty-year career and retires, you're going to be paying him or her retirement benefits for possibly another sixty years. Shut the fuck up and pay for it.


Simple cause and effect seems to be a difficult concept for The Very Serious People in DC to grasp. 

   

Friday, June 3, 2011

REPOST: U.S. Military Spending vs. the World

While I am down after arm surgery and can't type, I am recycling some posts from a year ago.

This from 3 June 2010, here (you'll need to click back to see any images, I could not easily or quickly insert them in this re-post):



(image credit here, where there's lots of good stuff)


Take a look at the pie chart above. Take a good look. Let it sink in.

In other words,

•US military spending accounts for 48 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending

•US military spending is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined

•US military spending is 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran.

•US military spending is almost 55 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $13 billion, maximum. (Tabulated data does not include four of the six, as the data only lists nations that have spent over 1 billion in the year, so their budget is assumed to be $1 billion each)

•US spending is more than the combined spending of the next 45 countries.

•The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.

•The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together account for about $205 billion or 29% of the US military budget.

Surely we could scale back our global military mission to refocus on domestic priorities? I think we have confused our defense wants with our defense needs.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Math is Hard

Jill over at Brilliant at Breakfast (scroll down to Monday 18 Oct) had a great economics post that pretty clearly lays out the math of federal deficits and revenue.  She writes:

Paul Krugman pointed out yesterday that when you have a recession and people are out of work, government revenues drop vs. expenditures:




The Republicans would have you believe that if we "cut spending" and reduce tax revenue even further, the budget will be balanced. According to this graph, spending right now is about $5.3 trillion. Revenue is about $3.95 trillion. I wish someone would ask Republican candidates how they plan to cut over $1.3 trillion in spending. The Republican so-called "Pledge to America" pledges to cut spending back to 2008 levels, which still puts us at about $4.7 trillion. This pledge also comes with promises of FURTHER tax cuts, reducing revenue even more.

Not even the most radical Republican plans, such as eliminating the Department of Education, will make a dent in that gap. Only dramatic cutbacks in military spending (which we never hear about, not even in the context of trying to find the billions that went missing in Iraq) AND the elimination of Social Security and Medicare (which ARE part of the Republican agenda) will.
 

Economics is a difficult subject, but I try valiantly to dig deep enough to understand it.  I do know this: repeating the phrase "tax cuts" and "reduce spending" won't cut it--such statements MUST be accompanied by specifics, not platitudes. 

The reduction in spending absolutely MUST must look hard at the Defense budget.  I've previously posted here about how the U.S. spends its military dollars; I'll include the 4 most shocking points again below:

US military spending accounts for 48 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending.

US military spending is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined

US military spending is 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran.

US military spending is almost 55 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $13 billion, maximum.

Do you think that maybe, just maybe, we could beat some those swords into plowshares and provide health care and quality education to all Americans, plus take care of our crumbling infrastructure?

 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Matthew Yglesias at Think Progress posts on 21 July:
With the Pentagon prepping to survey America’s soldiers about how they feel about allowing their gay colleagues to have equal rights, my colleague Igor Volsky took a trip to the National Archives to examine the last time they attempted this charade:

Today [i.e., yesterday], I traveled to the National Archives and recovered some of the surveys the military conducted about the troops’ attitudes towards black people between 1942 and 1946. At the time, the military — along with the overwhelming majority of the country — opposed integrating black servicemembers into the forces and preferred a ’separate but equal’ approach that would have required the military to construct separate recreation spaces and facilities. One month before Truman’s order, a Gallup poll showed that 63% of American adults endorsed the separation of Blacks and Whites in the military; only 26% supported integration.


These surveys show that the same attitude pervaded the military: 3/4 Air Force men favored separate training schools, combat, and ground crews and 85% of white soldiers thought it was a good idea to have separate service clubs in army camps.

Sometimes you’ve got to do the right thing.

A sentiment I echo unreservedly.  We don't need any more handwringing and studies.  Prseident Obama just needs to issue the appropriate Executive Order and say, "Make it so."  And then we'll see that the sky did not fall, the world did not come to an end, and that gay service men and women pose absolutely no threat to military readiness.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

U.S. Military Spending vs the World

(image credit here, where there's lots of good stuff)

Take a look at the pie chart above.  Take a good look.  Let it sink in.

In other words,

•US military spending accounts for 48 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending

•US military spending is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined

•US military spending is 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran.

•US military spending is almost 55 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $13 billion, maximum. (Tabulated data does not include four of the six, as the data only lists nations that have spent over 1 billion in the year, so their budget is assumed to be $1 billion each)

•US spending is more than the combined spending of the next 45 countries.

•The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.

•The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together account for about $205 billion or 29% of the US military budget.
 
Surely we could scale back our global military mission to refocus on domestic priorities?  I think we have confused our defense wants with our defense needs.