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Author: TriSec    Date: 05/03/2022 02:18:04

Good Morning.

There's a long-running problem that has been plaguing our veterans for decades. It is indeed military suicide.

The Veteran's suicide rate is nearly twice the civilian - according to one online source, it's 30 per 100,000 vs. the 13 per 100k for those that never wore the uniform.

Currently, a string of suicides is affecting the USS George Washington. To the point where it's deployment is delayed, and sailors are being moved ashore.

The commanding officer of the USS George Washington told his crew Thursday that the Navy will begin to move sailors off of the aircraft carrier following a string of suicides and complaints from service members about conditions aboard the ship, whose projected departure from the shipyards has been pushed back once again.

Capt. Brent Gaut announced that the ship will move 260 sailors "to an offsite barracks-type living arrangement on Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth" -- specifically, a Navy Gateway Inn and Suites -- starting Monday, according to a recording of the announcement reviewed by Military.com.

"We'll be able to expand that number at about 50 additional beds per week as we figure out exactly what is needed," Gaut continued.

The Navy confirmed the plan when asked by Military.com and a spokesperson added that the moves will continue “until all Sailors who wish to move off-ship have done so.”

The moves comes at the end of a month that saw three sailors aboard the ship die via suicide, after a previously undisclosed string of suicides going back to at least July of last year.

Military.com has been able to confirm at least five suicides by sailors assigned to the ship in the last 10 months -- the Navy has disputed the cause of death for one of those sailors -- and eight in total since November 2019.

It also follows an April 22 visit to the ship by the Navy's top enlisted official, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith, in which the crew was told the service is largely powerless to improve conditions.

Smith told a sailor who had asked about living conditions that the Navy "probably could have done better to manage your expectations coming in here" before informing the crew that raising concerns should be done "with reasonable expectations and then understanding what ... what this is like."

"What you're not doing is sleeping in a foxhole like a Marine might be doing," he added.

According to the commanding officer, the ship currently has 422 sailors living on board. Since sailors typically do not receive an allowance for housing until the E-5 rank, those living on board a ship while it's in a shipyard tend to be the most junior crew members.

It's unclear what the issue is. The Navy is trying to do something about it, but only time will tell. But indeed, this never goes away. Just a few lines down at my source, there's another story about military suicide - this one affecting overseas bases.

Troops stationed at remote and overseas bases attempted suicide at slightly higher rates but were less often successful compared to the general active-duty military population, according to findings in a new Government Accountability Office report.

Nearly 19% of all suicide attempts occured at those bases, but only 10% of suicide deaths, the federal watchdog found. The remote facilities may have higher suicide risk factors, such as social isolation and less access to mental health services, but troops at overseas bases also often lack the same access to personal firearms, which are used in the majority of military suicides.

However, the Pentagon has not fully assessed those suicide risks, and that process could help reduce such deaths, the GAO said in the report mandated by Congress. The report listed more than 50 installations that are overseas or considered remote, including Fort Wainwright, Alaska; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan.

The findings come amid a spike in troops taking their own lives at isolated bases in Alaska, as well as a string of suicides among the crew of the dry-docked aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

In March, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered an independent commission to look at suicides at three Alaska bases; Camp Humphreys, South Korea, the largest overseas U.S. military base; and other key bases inside the U.S., such as Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Lawmakers ordered the GAO to look into suicides at remote and overseas bases in 2020 following a 33.5% increase in the deaths over the previous four years.

Between 2016 and 2020, 1,806 active-duty troops took their own lives across all duty stations, while an additional 7,178 attempted suicide, according to the GAO.

Military life is hard - and it is a specific choice, by virtue of us having an all-volunteer force these days. But maybe, possibly....we wouldn't have this sort of conundrum if we weren't always at war?

14 comments (Latest Comment: 05/03/2022 18:08:51 by Raine)
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