Calls To Veterans’ Suicide Hotline Up Sharply

By | September 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

“Calls to the crisis line jumped about 7% over the last three weeks compared to August 2020. Online chats with crisis line staff are up almost 40%. Texts to the emergency service are up about 98%.”

Can we blame the sharp increase in veterans’ suicidal thoughts, and almost surely in suicides, on Biden’s bungled Afghanistan exit? No.

Suppose Biden took the advice of a drunken corporal. Suppose we evacuated all the civilians we could first. Then we began evacuating troops, keeping secure Bagram Airbase until the last. Suppose the evacuation had gone smoothly, with no American deaths. Suppose we had gotten the military dogs out as well. And then the Afghan government and army collapsed, leaving the Taliban in charge.

The exit would have been much less painful, and we would have left under more honorable circumstances. But with the Taliban in charge of at least as much of Afghanistan as they were before we arrived, feelings of hopelessness and futility would still affect veterans, especially veterans of Afghanistan. Suicide hotlines would still be busy, though I believe less busy than they are now.

But now suppose Biden had listened to a sober corporal. He would have evacuated except for Bagram and sufficient troops to maintain it. He would have told the Taliban in painfully clear language that if they attempted to take territory, or to attack Bagram, we would respond with overwhelming force, mainly air power but not exclusively. Then I believe the suicide hotline would remain at its normal, busy level.

We owe our veterans, especially wounded veterans, more than we can ever repay. But we can keep faith with them. We can do our best to assure them that their sacrifice was not in vain.

At the very least, we avoid checking our watch as the remains of those killed in action come home.

At the very least, we can leave in an orderly, military fashion, not as if the Three Stooges were in charge.

At the very least, we can avoid rubbing salt in our veterans’ wounds.

At the very least, we can avoid inhibiting future enlistments by making our veterans’ sacrifice seem worthless.

At the very least, we can avoid abandoning our friends and rewarding our enemies, thereby assuring that we will have fewer friends and more enemies.

Is that too much to ask?

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