Patti and I are both deeply saddened by the tragic shooting event at Camp Liberty, Baghdad, Iraq on Monday. Patti and I understand all too well the many stresses of combat facing our troops. Separation from family and friends, constant danger and fear, guilt and self loathing from the actions of war, financial struggles, sleep deprivation, grief from the loss of comrades, and more all weight heavily on the hearts, minds and souls of the troops. These stresses combined with the negative stigma associated with seeking psychological support can, and unfortunately do, push our soldiers to the brink and beyond.
Angry, frustrated soldiers in every war have turned on each other in even the tightest circle of friends. From arguments, to fist fights, intimidation, threats and assault, sometimes soldiers succumb to conflicting emotions and harm fellow soldiers. So many of our volunteer soldiers in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are in combat because their contracts have been involuntarily extended, stop-lossed, effectively 'drafting' many of our soldiers to serve in combat. This frustrating reality plays out over and over again, sending soldiers back to combat who never planned to return.
According to the US Military, 20% or more of soldiers deployed to Iraq suffer from PTSD. This statistic cannot be ignored, and I believe it will increase dramatically as more and more soldiers leave the military and try to return to a 'normal' life despite the hauntings of war. Many hide their feelings so that they aren't labeled as troubled.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the soldiers' families, including the family of shooter Sgt. Russell.