In late August, Army Sgt. Joshua Barber, 31, of Lacey, got in his pickup - a gift from his wife after he returned from Iraq - drove to the parking lot at Madigan Army Medical Center, and shot himself in
the head with a revolver. Three weeks earlier he'd asked his wife, "Do you think that God's going to send me to hell for killing innocent people?"
We've long known some war-shocked vets have a harder time adjusting to the battlefront and the home front than others. But now it's an epidemic, as The Olympian points out in a Sunday takeout on military suicides.
The suicide rate for active-duty soldiers, including members of the
National Guard and the Reserves, reached an all-time high last year and
might be surpassed this year, according to the Army. If this occurs, the suicide rate for active-duty soldiers would top the suicide rate for U.S. civilians for the first time.
Among this soldierly generation's unique stress contributors on the battlefield is e-mail, no less, says Col. Elspeth Ritchie, an Army psychiatrist. "You can get bad news very quickly in theater," Ritchie
said. "That can lead to a sense of helplessness and frustration." Major stress factors include multiple deployments, he says, and the inadvertent killing of civilians during
combat, the apparent driving force of Josh Barber's demise.