Today, the Army Times reports that a sergeant has been charged with five counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault in the shooting deaths of four soldiers and a naval officer at Camp Liberty’s Combat Stress Control Center in Iraq.
Two of the victims were doctors; three were enlisted soldiers. The accused, age 44, was on his third Iraq deployment.
The issue of repeated deployments has been addressed by military who worry about the growing suicide rate and high levels of post-traumatic stress disorder seen in returning troops.
Of course, this particular situation has a unique set of circumstances, and the loss is painful. The Army Times article is worth a read to understand what took place — though there is no understanding of the how or why, and maybe never will be.
The physical, neurological, mental and psychic health of those who serve our country is paramount. (Add to this sad situation that those who were helping others, or those who were seeking support themselves, were put in harm’s way.) Our troops are all due the best medical support at all times, during active duty and for the rest of their lives.
As Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Army Times:
It does speak to me for the need for us to redouble our efforts in terms of dealing with the stress [of combat]. It also speaks to the issues of multiple deployments [and] increasing dwell time.