Why So Many Veteran Suicides?

Ok, this is a bit of sensationalist fiction, but I think it is meaningful in dealing with so many veteran suicides. The real question is "WHY?" The answers are all too often unspeakable, things a man cannot admit to himself, and must not say to the folks back home.

An After-Action Report
Shine, R. 1/Lt

Albert Jones had just made Spec-5. He had about two months left on this tour, and had seen it all, or so he thought. We had been going into Jahazz the last few weeks pretty often, as we heard there was some serious organization going on there. So far we hadn't seen a thing, and were working with the locals. Jones liked working with the people, no doubt about that. We were handing out candy and stuff to some of the kids, and he kind of struck it up with this little girl, maybe about eight. Neeah, she said her name was, something like that. When he told her his name, she laughed, as I guess Al-Bur means something funny in their language. He was kind of a big friendly goof, and liked taking pictures with her and the other kids sometimes, and was ok they laughed at his name.

Yesterday we got this top-level G-2 report, intelligence that said they had located the cell we were looking for, and it turned out to be that same street we had gone to before. We loaded the HUMV and hit the street, and they knew we were coming. We started receiving fire about a block away, and called in some arty to hit a house half a block down the street. When we got to the house where Neeah lived, we took fire from the roof, suppressed it, and then took out the door. Jones went in first, blasting. He took out three occupants in the place, one armed with an AK, and I blasted in behind him. They were Neeah's father and her two brothers, all insurgents.

She was crouching in the corner in horror, horror like I've never seen on anybody's face, not just seeing her family killed, but the unbelievable sense of betrayal, the unbelieving horror of recognizing Jones. "Al-Bur! Al-Bur!" she screamed in confusion, and I knew in an instant that nothing that ever happened to her later in her life was ever going to explain or soften that terrible moment for her.

That is what Jones saw too, I know it. He stood there a moment, frozen solid. If she had a rifle, she could have cut him down. Then he put a burst of three rounds right in the middle of her chest. It was the most merciful thing he could do.

"Jones!" I yelled at him.

He turned around fast, his rifle right between my eyes. The look in his face was also a horror like I had never seen before, the most unbelievable rage, and the most unbelievable pain. "Jesus Fucking Christ," he swore, and then he put the barrel of his piece under his chin, and he shot himself. That fine new ballistic helmet contained the round, and he just basically poured out from under it.

I put in my report that the confirmed insurgent we had taken out had been lying on the floor, and shot up at Jones when he entered the room, and that he had been honorably KIA, killed in action. The collateral damage had been confined to three children the insurgent coward had been hiding behind.