Posted by Curt on 25 August, 2007 at 9:48 am. 3 comments already!

This is a perfect example of an article written with no real facts, just innuendo. Other then speaking to one young soldier, reading one entry in a soldiers blog, and checking the walls of a latrine, this writer at the Democrats Times of Los Angeles, Tina Susman, comes to the conclusion that the morale of our soldiers in Iraq is dipping:

In the dining hall of a U.S. Army post south of Baghdad, President Bush was on the wide-screen TV, giving a speech about the war in Iraq. The soldiers didn’t look up from their chicken and mashed potatoes.

As military and political leaders prepare to deliver a progress report on the conflict to Congress next month, many soldiers are increasingly disdainful of the happy talk that they say commanders on the ground and White House officials are using in their discussions about the war.

And they’re becoming vocal about their frustration over longer deployments and a taxing mission that keeps many living in dangerous and uncomfortably austere conditions. Some say two wars are being fought here: the one the enlisted men see, and the one that senior officers and politicians want the world to see.

“I don’t see any progress. Just us getting killed,” said Spc. Yvenson Tertulien, one of those in the dining hall in Yousifiya, 10 miles south of Baghdad, as Bush’s speech aired last month. “I don’t want to be here anymore”

That Specialist is the ONLY one she quotes who has a “get me outta here” attitude. She then quotes a sentence from a blog, and then reads some latrine writing.

Sometimes the signs are to be found even in latrines. In the stalls at Baghdad’s Camp Liberty, someone had posted Army help cards listing “nine signs of suicide” On one card, seven of the boxes had been checked.

This is reporting at the LA Times?

She tries to make a correlation with Iraq and suicides of course:

The Army’s suicide rate is at its highest in 23 years: 17.3 per 100,000 troops, compared with 12.4 per 100,000 in 2003, the first year of the war. Of the 99 suicides last year, 27 occurred in Iraq.

Or written another way 72 suicides DIDN’T happen in Iraq. From an report a few weeks ago on these suicides:

About a quarter of those who killed themselves had a history of at least one psychiatric disorder. Of those about 20 percent had been diagnosed with a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder Of those, and/or depression; and 8 percent had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, including post traumatic stress disorder – one of the signature injuries of the conflict in Iraq.

Tina’s article fails to mention the fact that the suicide rates of the general population of the USA, when adjusted for age groups and sex, are larger than that found in the military. So in reality there is a lower risk of committing suicide if you are in the military.

This great comment left at Newsbusters gets into the details of the different suicide rates:

It would also be nice for the media to detail how our military compares with other countries concerning suicide rates. It so happens at least one study on this found that military suicide rates were demonstrably lower than the general population of a number of industrialized countries, including the USA, even when adjusted for age and sex.

Concerning the general US population, suicide is more prevalent in the Mountain and Western regions of the US. Californians and Texans do NOT commit suicide at increased frequency compared to the reast of the country, a fact probably dispelling myths on either side of the political spectrum. Florida is an exception in the East/Midwest, I’m assuming because the state has a preponderence of elderly population with the highest rate of suicide of any age category. Lastly, is it any wonder that the paradise of Hawaii is not a suicidal haven?

To see death rates including various data concerning suicide for the nation click here. To see how individual states stack up against national parameters click here.

Another factor in the equation could be socioeconomic and educational issues when studying suicide data. Changes of socioeconomic issues (downward) have been reported as a risk factor for suicide as has lower educational level achievement. Could our all voluntary military, reported as better educated, be a part of the reason prevalence of suicide in the military is lower than in the general US population? Could the camaraderie and pre-enlistment screening (sociological factors) be another reason for the lower suicide prevalence? Could it be that military training may also modulate the impulsivity involved in suicide and attempted suicides?

Lots of data there, something Tina must of overlooked in her “extensive” research for her article. Check out how she spins another study:

The latest in a series of mental health surveys of troops in Iraq, released in May, says 45% of the 1,320 soldiers interviewed ranked morale in their unit as low or very low. Seven percent ranked it high or very high.

Or put another way once again, a majority of those surveyed ranked morale as average or high.

Tina then goes on to detail the rough life of fighting in Iraq, which tells the reader what? I highly doubt that those troops who enlist and go to Iraq were expecting to sleep at a Holiday Inn. I remember my days in the Marine Corps and we all bitched about this or that. It’s a part of being a in the military I’m afraid. We bitch, but we fight if asked to fight.

But you know what was left out of this article? Retention of those serving in Iraq:

Multinational Corps Iraq met its command retention goals yesterday, more than six weeks ahead of schedule.
We’ve actually exceeded the goals, said Army Master Sgt. Connie Davis, the commanders career counselor. Traditional categories for re-enlistment are initial (first re-enlistment), mid-careerist and careerist soldiers.

Meeting and exceeding re-enlistment goals is a powerful message about the commitment of today’s force and how our soldiers feel about the Army and their mission, said Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Multinational Corps Iraq commander. When soldiers re-enlist, I consider it a vote to stay with the family, the Army family. These are incredible men and women who understand the importance of their service and know they are making a difference. I’m proud to be a member of their family.

The overall goal for the commands retention counselors was for 16,510 soldiers to re-enlist by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year. As of yesterday, the command had re-enlisted 18,721 soldiers, Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Gardner, a Multinational Corps Iraq career counselor, said.

Yeah, sounds like the morale is really dipping there Tina.

Continue checking latrine walls, sounds like a perfect occupation for you and your quite inept reporting.

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