Army in DenialWell done, Congress.
Meanwhile, the Army denies any connection between combat and PTSD? You've gotta be kidding me:
On November 6, the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill became law. The bill was named for a 22-year-old Iowa reservist who took his own life eleven months after coming home from Iraq. Though Josh is one of hundreds of combat veteran suicides since the wars began in 2001, it is his name that has become symbolic of the campaign to get the military to take the mental health of America's vets seriously.
With the exception of the unspeakable images of Abu Ghraib, which were e-mailed home by soldiers themselves, for six years Americans have been effectively insulated from the human cost of our wars. This insulation is not an accident; it is policy. Images from the Vietnam years, like the naked child trying to outrun her own burning skin, or the anguished women and children waiting their turn to be executed at My Lai, were catalysts that helped turn public opinion against that war. This time, the government wanted to ensure that would not happen. On the eve of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Pentagon issued a directive to the media forbidding any coverage of returning American coffins. No coffins, no funerals, no wounds, no tears. No empathy.
Randy and Ellen Omvig's success in drawing long overdue attention to the issue of veteran suicide in an environment that has dismissed or derailed other worthy causes, can be explained, I believe, by their insistence on going public with the most intimate details of their tragedy. They complicated and humanized a debate that has been stalled for decades in a morass of misinformation, disinformation and other evasion tactics.
They described how his tour in Iraq had changed him, how he suffered all of the symptoms they now recognize as classic PTSD: the nightmares, the shaking, the dark moods and consuming fears. They admitted that they had failed to convince him to go for counseling, accepting his argument that the stigma would wreck his career plans. And then came the morning when Ellen discovered him locked in his pick up truck. He had a gun. As she tried frantically to reason with him, he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger. It's a horrific image: she, banging on the window, terrified, pleading, while, on the other side of the glass, her son tells her he will always love her, but that now she must leave. "Go!" he says, and when she refuses, he raises his gun, angles his head so the bullet will not hit her, and fires. She was powerless to stop anything, the hand, the gun, the bullet, the blood. There must have been a lot of blood.In spite of a suicide rate among solders that has now reached a 26-year record high, and contradicting the evidence of their own increasingly ominous studies, the Army continues to insist that they have yet to find a connection between combat stress injuries (PTSD) and suicide.