Stephen Colbert agreed to guest edit Newsweek to raise attention to the men and women in Iraq. We may need to recruit Colbert to publicize another problem: American soldiers are killing themselves in alarming numbers and a top commander (Army vice chief of staff Peter Chiarelli) says, "We have not found full solutions to this yet."
Colbert wrote in Newsweek:
"Isn't the Iraq War over? That's what I thought, too. I hadn't seen it in the media for a while, and when I don't see something, I assume it's vanished forever, like in that terrifying game peekaboo. We stopped seeing much coverage of the Iraq War back in September when the economy tanked, and I just figured the insurgents were wiped out because they were heavily invested in Lehman Brothers. Turns out there are still 135,000 troops in Iraq, which I don't understand because we've already won the war.”
The scandalous amount of suicides among U.S. soldiers is another buried story. The Army yesterday reported there have been 82 reported active duty suicides through April 2009. There were 51 in the comparable period of '08. Among reserve component soldiers not on active duty, there are 16 confirmed suicides and another 21 under investigation this year. The Army determined 23 non-active duty soldiers took their lives in the '08 period.
There is no doubt the military is doing everything it can to help soldiers. But as Colbert stated, America still has 135K troops in Iraq. Why? For what glory? There will be no Bunker Hill, Gettysburg, D-Day, or Iwo Jima stories coming out of Iraq and into the warm embrace of their countrymen. Extended tours, economic hardships, hostile locals and deployment to a place where Americans should not have been sent to begin take a powerful toll.
Colbert, who just finished a tour of Iraq, did his job well. It would be a shame if Colbert is forced to tour Army psychological and trauma centers to stir the mainstream press into reporting the suicide problem.