WASHINGTON — At a time of record-high military suicides, commanders are ignoring the mental health problems of American soldiers and not winnowing out enough of those with records of substance abuse and crime, a United States Army report has concluded.
The report, released Thursday at the Pentagon, found that it was not only the stress of repeated deployments over nearly a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan that has driven the Army suicide rate above the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. Significantly, the report said that 79 percent of the soldiers who committed suicide had had only one deployment, or had not deployed at all.
“For us to blame this thing just on the war would be wrong,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the vice chief of staff of the Army, said at a news conference about the report. “That’s not what we’re trying to do here.”