Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recruiter Suicide?

A recruiter in Alameda, CA possibly killed himself yesterday afternoon in the parking lot of his recruiting station.

When this story was first released the police investigator mentions that he doesn't think it was related to PTSD, and the story says the Soldier hadn't recently deployed. I'm thinking that 6ish hours isn't exactly enough time for the police to have done a thorough enough investigation to determine why someone would kill themselves, but I could be wrong.

I've dealt with depression before. It's not fun (if it was it'd be called "funpression"), and I can empathize with someone considering killing themselves. I really can. There have been times where I've given more than idle thought about it (you don't have to call me about this mom, it's not recent). A person's mind can get into some real dark places where it's not easy to get out of that cycle, and it's nearly impossible alone.

The suicide awareness training that the Army has been requiring of its Soldiers for the past few years might make for some dull periods of having to sit in classrooms, but it serves a purpose. Soldiers and their leaders should be afraid to take an interest in their fellows and in making sure they're not planning something terribly self-destructive. And Soldiers should be afraid to seek help. The Army really has made it very easy. I've used One Source myself and it was a blessing.

Anyways, I'm TDY in Milwaukee and going to go grab a very late dinner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2005 Called...

... and it wants its meme back.

This one is a twofer. The author (a man who really should have been able to do something about the problem he is reporting) hits the "Draft = Better" and "Recruiters are filling the Army with trash" meme

I actually had to check the date this was published to make sure I didn't accidentally click on some Google Cache thing, cause this was reading like something which made me start blogging in the first place.

Mr. Koch has had a long, and no doubt glorious, career. Vietnam Veteran, graduated from the 7th Army NCOA (Yes, he has that on his resume). He served on then-Senator Obama's campaign as a veterans adviser (Yes, the Vets for Obama site is dead). His most recent stop in his career was in the Pentagon as some peon managing the Warrior Transition Units and the Wounded Warrior Program. A position from which he resigned "under duress" after his boss told him he had no confidence in his performance following a review of the WTUs directed by the Secretary of Defense.

Three months later he's penning an article showcasing the problems in the program he was managing, and laying the blame for these problems on recruiters, and the country.

Color me unimpressed.

Have people with mental issues been allowed to join the military? Yup. Maybe some recruiter somewhere had their recruit hide the problem, maybe it's a problem which was undiagnosed before in the individual. But they're in the military and the Army.

The problem Mr. Koch identifies is that Soldiers with non-combat-related mental and medical issues, and disciplinary problems are being "dumped" into the WTUs by commanders. I realize it's about three months late, but may I suggest that a person who would be in a position to change or tighten WTU rules to prevent this from happening would have been the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense heading the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. I'm not the brightest guy on Earth, but that sounds an awful lot like the job title of someone who could do something about commanders "dumping" bi-polar Soldiers into the WTUs. Let's see who the last Deputy Undersecretary of Defense heading the Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy was...

Neal Koch.

I'd also like to take a moment to point out how happy I am that a person who thinks that Soldiers are "battle-crazed", "suicidal", and "homicidal" is no longer a political appointee at an office in the Pentagon tasked with caring for injured Soldiers. I'm sure it came as quite a surprise to him when he was asked to resign.

Mr. Koch makes some fairly serious claims about the integrity of commanders, doctors, and those dirty, filthy recruiters. He's got commanders abusing the system by shunting their problem children off improperly. He's got doctors and other health care officials condoning this, and turning Soldiers into addicts. And he's blaming it all on those evil, nasty recruiters who were so desperate to feed fresh blood into the McBushitlerHalliburtonDeathMachine that they raided mental health wards of hospitals to get their quota.

As with everyone of Mr. Koch's political bent the solution is drafting. I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that Mr. Koch must have his head firmly up his 4th point if he thinks that drafting a cross-section of America's youth is going to result in people with less disciplinary problems and fewer mental health issues. I'm also going to go out on another limb and assume that instituting the draft won't be accompanied with a significant increase in the military's authorized end strength. So, basically, we use the draft to select the same number of people who currently volunteer. How much would you like to bet that the newly instituted draft legislation will include enough provisions to allow the wealthy and well-connected to keep their progeny from serving?

Why is the draft always mentioned by people who want nothing more than for the War on Terror to end now, regardless of consequences? The draft is like some sort of tribal signaling used to show someone is serious about national security and defense, but showing they're opposed to current operations because the right people didn't start it it's not being fought by enough rich people's kids it's not burdening enough people.

For some reason I find myself wondering how IRR Soldier is doing. What ever became of him?