Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marines, Puppies, and Mental Health

Recently, GWBlogspot has brought to light the petition to punish the marine who threw a puppy off a cliff in Iraq. GWBlogspot also broke that justice had been served, and the Marine was being expelled from the Marine Corps.

Ian's comment regarding the Marine was "but wouldn't making the marine stay in Iraq be a better punishment than making him come home?". Now, yes I agree, what this Marine did was awful and punsihable, and so far from the ideals of the Marine Corps and this Marine deserves to lose his benefits and his job. But could this act of violence be evidence of the mass epidemic of mental health issues in the military today? And if so, should we help the Marine (and all his fellow Marines and soldiers) rather than punishing him?

TIME Magazine ran an article regarding the rise of antidepressants being issued to soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan:
While the headline-grabbing weapons in this war have been high-tech wonders, like unmanned drones that drop Hellfire missiles on the enemy below, troops like LeJeune are going into battle with a different kind of weapon, one so stealthy that few Americans even know of its deployment. For the first time in history, a sizable and growing number of U.S. combat troops are taking daily doses of antidepressants to calm nerves strained by repeated and lengthy tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. The medicines are intended not only to help troops keep their cool but also to enable the already strapped Army to preserve its most precious resource: soldiers on the front lines. Data contained in the Army's fifth Mental Health Advisory Team report indicate that, according to an anonymous survey of U.S. troops taken last fall, about 12% of combat troops in Iraq and 17% of those in Afghanistan are taking prescription antidepressants or sleeping pills to help them cope. Escalating violence in Afghanistan and the more isolated mission have driven troops to rely more on medication there than in Iraq, military officials say.
The article goes on to discuss the theory that prescribing antidepressants to soldiers helps keep the soldier already deployed to the Mideast deployed longer:
Military families wonder about the change, according to Joyce Raezer of the private National Military Family Association. "Boy, it's really nice to have these drugs," she recalls a military doctor saying, "so we can keep people deployed." And professionals have their doubts. "Are we trying to bandage up what is essentially an insufficient fighting force?" asks Dr. Frank Ochberg, a veteran psychiatrist and founding board member of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies.
While the rates of mental illness and antidepressant drug use are on the rise in the overall population, the fact that these drugs are being used and perhaps over-used in the military is cause for concern. And how is mental health affecting individual soldiers? Maybe there's more to the soldier who tossed the puppy. Maybe he's suffering, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If this person doesn't know right from wrong at such a degree of violence they don't deserve to be in the military. It doesn't matter if it has to do with their upbringing or being in the war; there should be no excuses for this action and he should not be given another chance.