Letters to the Editor
Answer Obvious?
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 3 page 26-26

I am writing in response to the article "Army Trying to Solve Puzzle of Rising Suicide Rates" in the December 4, 2009, issue.

I was the sole psychiatrist stationed at Fort Stewart, Ga., during the Korean War, from October 1951 to July 1953. We had about 40,000 troops on post. In addition, National Guard troops trained there in the summer months. I can't recall one suicide on post during that time. The camp was relatively free of stress. We did have some problems, and they included high rates of AWOL and sexually transmitted disease. I was also on the Stockade Clemency Review Board.

I believe it is unnecessary to research the cause of the high rate of suicide cited in the article, as the cause is a "no brainer"—it is obvious that it is the repeated tours of duty in combat zones. With soldiers returning home with concussion syndromes, posttraumatic stress disorder, and multiple other physical and emotional problems, we should not be surprised that the suicide rate has increased. Stop rotating these troops again and again and the rate will drop.

If we are going to continue these wars, it is immoral to demand that this small group of soldiers defend our country at their psychological peril. If we must defend our country, all should share in the burden, and a draft should be established. This will not happen, however, as it is politically incorrect. Our politicians want to get reelected so let us conduct another study to make us feel better and assuage our guilt as we return our soldiers to the battlefield.

Port Washington, N.Y.

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