Skip to comments.Get ahead of a soldier's killer
Posted on 06/06/2011 5:31:07 AM PDT by Clive
Both were Canadian soldiers.
One died, one didn't.
Eleven years ago, one was found semi-comatose in an Ottawa park, his attempt at suicide through booze and pills thwarted by the police who saved him.
The other was found dead last week at a forward military outpost in a hostile area of southern Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban. Foul play, enemy action and accidental death have all been ruled out by the military.
And that is code for suicide.
The first soldier, then a top general and now a senator, was Romeo Dallaire, a helpless witness to the 90-day slaughter in Rwanda which saw 500,000 Tutsis murdered by extremist Hutus, and which triggered the post-traumatic stress disorder that led to his suicide attempt.
The second was Bombardier Karl Manning, a 31-year-old member of the 1st Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment battle group, and only days away from coming home.
One soldier got lucky, one didn't.
And rank didn't matter, nor did the years that separated them.
The most recent figures from the military indicate 16 uniformed members -- men and women -- took their lives in 2009, almost twice the number reported at the beginning of this deployment to Afghanistan.
Late this summer, Canadian Forces Ombudsman Pierre Daigle is expected to publish a major investigation of mental health among our troops, a follow-up to two previous studies undertaken to question how the miliary monitors and treats PTSD.
"A lot of progress has been made, but there are still some glaring problems," said Darren Gibb, a spokesman for Daigle's office.
As it stands today, the Canadian military relies a great deal on the "self reporting" of mental-health issues, a process naturally steeped in reluctance.
Yet, 25% of Canadian soldiers returning from Afghanistan nonetheless confessed to risky drinking and to suffering from mental issues ranging from depression to thoughts of suicide.
While the military insists its suicide rate is not demonstratively greater than that of the general population, it has no database to actually monitor soldiers after their return from war, and won't for years to come.
A specialized database is a must-get.
PTSD, for one, can be both a stalker and a serial killer.
It must be tracked to be beaten.
PTSD is a serious threat.
I lost a dear friend to it last year, long after the terrorist attack she was tending to during the 1st Gulf War.
"PTSD is a serious threat.Unfortunately too many people don't believe it. I was shocked to read a comment by a woman employed in a senior capacity in Veterans' Affairs to the effect that PTSD was just something for a veteran to claim. In fairness, she was not typical of the attitudes in that department or in Canadian Forces.
"I lost a dear friend to it last year, long after the terrorist attack she was tending to during the 1st Gulf War."
Fortunately Canadian Forces and Veterans' Affairs is taking it seriously.
The Roméo Dallaire occurrence brought the problem dramatically to the public's attention.
BTW Dallaire's book "Shake Hands with the Devil" about the Rwanda job may be enlightening to some.
Shake Hands with the Devil
LGen Roméo Dallaire
Random House Canada
Hardcover ISBN 0-7867-1487-5
Trade Paperback ISBN 0-7867-1510-3
RIP soldier Manning.
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