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FOR VETERAN'S DAY: An HBO Special—And a Shocking Rate of Soldier Suicide | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

FOR VETERAN'S DAY: An HBO Special—And a Shocking Rate of Soldier Suicide

Tonight HBO will air Wartorn, a documentary focusing on PTSD and other mental trauma, and soldier suicides, starting with the Civil War but focusing on the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. With James Gandolfini as a key helmsman, it's gotten extra publicity, plus great reviews.

From all accounts, a central part of it is the "war torn" post-Iraq struggles of Noah Pierce, and his eventual suicide, with haunting commentary by his parents. His name was familiar for me, as I had written about him briefly in one of my countless stories on this subject back in 2007.  

Today, despite renewed efforts by the military to combat the problem, the tragedy of soldier, and veteran, suicides has only escalated, with some calling it an epidemic. So I thought, on this special day, that I'd put together some new links to help bring attention to it.

Here's a great piece by the noted photographer Ashley Gilberston from VQR on the life and death of Noah Pierce.

Current, troubling statistics here. Plus a chart showing, by age group, how the suicide rate for veterans outpaces that for those who did not serve.

There's a new book Lethal Warriors: When the New Band of Brothers Came Home. Reviewed by The Atlantic here.   The author of that book has guest piece at The Washington Post today.

Another controversial suicide that I've written about, LaVena Johnson, also is the subject of a new film.

The Army has just assigned $17 million for a new study of why the suicide rate remains high and how to bring it down.

Disturbing new claim from soldiers in Washington State  that an Iraq vet colleague hung himself last March after being mocked by his peers for displaying PTSD symptons.

Parents of son who led a unit in Iraq that suffered two losses by suicide decide to start a faith-based effort to help others in Houston.

Op-ed about interesting innovation:  a separate justice system, called "veterans courts," to treat differently the troubled personnel who come back with PTSD and wind up in prison for one reason or another.

Another

An NPR report on those left behind by suicides. And a CBS story on one tragic case and the need for "better leadership."

A vets group claims far too many soldiers already with severe problems are deployed or re-deployed.

A case that still haunts me is suicide of a young female medic in Iraq. Plus the case I wrote about here and elsewhere not long ago of the woman who killed herself in Iraq after refusing to take part in torture. My book on Iraq and the media, "So Wrong for So Long," is filled with such stories.

 
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