Suicides by active duty military and veterans are at an all-time high and are now averaging more than one-per-day, more than we are losing in combat (many stats have the numbers as high as 18-per-day, see inset left). Over the past several weeks, I have been working with a group of veterans, advocates and investigators who, to my surprise, were largely comprised of Veterans for Obama leaders. Several of these individuals were Democratic strategists who worked closely with Barack Obama when he was a U.S. Senator and during the President’s 2008 campaign. These men personally developed Barack Obama’s narrative regarding Veteran’s affairs and guided his campaign’s declarations that an Obama Administration would represent a sea-change in Veteran’s health and care, both mental and physical. Shocking as it may be to those among Barack Obama’s cult-like following of mesmerized masses, there are principled Democrats, who are Veterans, who very much happen to care more about the lives of their brothers and sisters-in-arms than they do about propagandizing the otherworldly mystique of the man they once supported. They even accept that, in short order, team Obama will begin to destroy them and their will to continue. To quote the character, Colonel Nathan R. Jessup, United States Marine Corps, played with gripping conviction by Jack Nicholson, “You’re (messing) with the wrong Marine!” These veterans don’t care about Barack Obama. He has lied to them and marginalized them. Problem is, they live their lives for others, not themselves. That’s what separates them from politicians, like the President they once believed in. They (these Democrats), now wax nostalgic about how responsive Republican President George W. Bush was when they blew the whistle on the horrid conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center. “Bush fired people. Bush got engaged, personally. Bush made immediate changes and he talked to us while he quietly visited Walter Reed. The Shalala Committee gave him recommendations and he enacted them, immediately!” This is a quote from a Democratic strategist and Veteran who asked not to be identified and whose work spanned both administrations. These Democrat Vets, whom I have had the honor to work closely with over the past several weeks, feel saddened, betrayed, and disappointed by a complete lack of action by the President whom they personally guided. They also say they have been marginalized, humiliated, and shut out. This all occurred once they began discovering specific abuses among senior military and civilian leaders, to include medical record manipulation and malfeasance to process combat traumatized soldiers for disciplinary discharges, rather than treat their mental, neurotic, and emotional combat-begotten illnesses.
These men have been left virtually shunned by an Administration that once impressed upon them a belief that stories of combat veteran suffering, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), mood disorders, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), night terrors, insomnia, and suicidal feelings… indeed, suicide. I have spoken often with the two principal investigators, Robert Alvarez (the only Republican in the group) and Andy Pogany over the past few weeks and their work is monumental. It has revealed every known cause of combat veteran despair, depression, and suicide. And, it has been not only ignored by senior Army and Administration leadership, it has been treated with obfuscation, denial, and hostility.
Before I continue, I myself am a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and was deployed on several occasions during OEF and OIF as the Chief of Intelligence Operations for Special Operations Command, Central. So, I have familiarity with, and an interest in, that of which my friends are speaking on behalf of our abandoned brothers and sisters-in-arms.
On my program this past Sunday, I had the privilege of hosting for both hours, my guests and friends, Andy Pogany and Robert Alvarez. Their credentials are impeccable and their work has been balance, exhaustive, and tear soaked. I have broken down on a couple of occasions just reading their cases and the rebuke they have received from senior members of the Army and ombudsmen in government. They have discovered the problems and the fixes are simple. Far simpler than those for which this President weeps and laments: Gun Control and Immigration Reform. It shows, in many ways, that this President’s conscience has never been influenced or formed by the sacrifices of our veterans. If it were, he would immediately apply his gun control mantra, “If we can save just one life…” So, for the President, you can, Sir, you can.
Mr. President, today you have been given the opportunity and detailed instructions on how to enact a National Strategy for Veterans. Every conceivable option, prescription, and solution has been laid on your desk. No need for a new committee or Task Force. No call for a new study. It’s done, Mr. President. The committees and Task Forces have concluded submitted their findings and continue their work, exhausted and marginalized; researchers of distinguished pedigree at Rutgers University have finished their analyses, exhaustively. Cases have been documented by the hundreds and systemic failures and their solutions have been clearly identified in number. You may now accept accountability for an issue that can not only save one life, but dozens; dozens of our most precious lives… those of our war vets, who, at the end of being processed by your policies and your complete lack of movement of conscience, have resolved your issue by killing themselves. You broke these men, then your loyal officers, rather than fixing the damage of young adults who have seen and felt the trauma of war (as many as four tours by the age of 24; some, more), have processed them out of the Army with no benefits into an economy that is not longer bleeding jobs, but has left its body two pints low on the life-blood of employment. And, Sir, they are taking their own lives at record numbers.
So, rather than have your appointees release data that shows the suicide problem in the
military is not nearly as bad as it is (statistically) in the civilian population, you now have the opportunity fix the problem. I am reminded of a section of your own autobiography where you describe your mother’s lack of patience with your excuses and attitude regarding your studies; a teachable moment you offered from your upbringing that appeared intended to give substance to who you are as a man. Well, Sir, we shall see.
As of today, Sir, no more excuses. No more irrelevant comparisons to the kid in class who brought home a D after you’ve brought home a C-, as if poor performance is somehow elevated when compared to others’ poorer performance. This is embarrassingly similar to the Department of Defense’s recent declaration of good standing where relative suicide rates are concerned. Quite frankly, Sir, shameful.
Veterans, including many who supported you as Veterans for Obama leaders and in various close advisory positions (to you and Kit Bond) during your two years as a U.S. Senator and during your 2008 campaign, shall await your Executive Action (much like you have promised for gun control) for all that you promised our veterans. It is now up to you. We are here and we don’t forget.
Frank Wuco is a retired Naval Intelligence Officer with 23 years active duty and over 30 total years of service to the the national security and intelligence communities. As an intelligence professional, Frank is grateful to have worked in virtually every area of military and intelligence operations over the past 30+ years and dedicates all of his work to those who continue to serve honorably to the security and protection of the United States Constitution and the people of the United States. Frank now brings his expertise to the airwaves every Sunday from 2-4 PM EST on Tampa Bay’s News Radio AM 970 WFLA.