Risky business!

Posted by Nick Vidal on 17th Nov 2010

The United States military branches are now concerned over the level of suicides and accidental deaths occurring among returning combat veterans. Many of the returning vets are seemingly prone to risky behavior. One example is a of a Senior Airman caught speeding at 120 mph in Florida, on his new motorcycle, 2 months after returning to the states. Other veterans state that, “Nothing exciting happens” once they return from combat. This type of risky behavior has led to accidental deaths and suicides far exceeding combat deaths during the period of October 2008 to October 2009. There was a record setting total of 160 active-duty Army soldiers suicide deaths during that same period. Facts such as this has prompted the military to investigate; is it the chicken or the egg? Are more thrill seekers joining the military or is the prolonged war effort causing the rise in deaths from risky behavior?

The military acknowledges that the type and quality of recruits has changed since September 11. Anyone volunteering after then was almost assured of not only being deployed but being deployed multiple times. Contrast this with pre 911 recruits who may have realized that combat was always a possibility but certainly didn’t fear it to be a probability or certainty. The Army exacerbated the issue by lowering its standards allowing men and woman with criminal felony convictions or drug histories to enter into its ranks.

So do we now have more enlisted rule breakers and adrenaline junkies or has the longest period of combat in American history churned out veterans altered psychologically by their military experience?

Is it the chicken or the egg?

Source: News and Observer October 31, 2010