The same month the GAO’s follow-up report was released, in February 2005, Army Spec. Jeffrey Henthorn, a young father and third-generation soldier, killed himself in Balad, Iraq. The M-16 he used was so powerful that “fragments of his skull pierced the barracks ceiling.” According to the Hartford Courant, which featured Henthorn’s story in a series called “Mentally Unfit to Fight,”he “had been sent back to Iraq for a second tour even though his superiors knew he was unstable and had threatened suicide at least twice, according to Army investigative reports and interviews.”
Henthorn was one of22 soldiers who killed themselves in Iraq or Afghanistan in 2005— nearly double the rate of the year before.Three otherswhose stories were featured had been kept in combat and given potent psychotropic medications—with little supervision and despite the potential of these drugs to increase suicidality.
So enough with the military’s alleged bafflement over the rising service-member suicide rates.
What will it take, if not the suicides of hundreds of men and women, to warrant the same kind of attention for the military’s mental-health crisis?