The roll call of Iraq and Afghanistan vets who have committed suicide (which I have been chronicling for years) continues to grow in an utterly disturbing and rapid manner.
The latest: a major in the U.S. Army Reserve who had served two tours in Afghanistan and now expected to get orders for a third, possibly to Iraq. He shot and killed himself, at a veterans' cemetery, on Monday.
Only after he died did his wife discover a letter in his printer revealing that he had made an appointment to see a V.A . counselor for depression.
"His desire to be at peace in heaven was greater than the thought of enduring any more pain," Lana Waldorf of Bingham Falls, Mich., said of her husband, Lance Waldorf.
A caretaker at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township found Waldorf's body in military fatigues with a handgun, a note, and photos of his family next to him. The Detroit News reports that returned home in 2007 after having served two tours in Afghanistan as a civil affairs officer coordinating humanitarian assistance and as a diplomat to the Afghan government.
An AP account relates:
Lana Waldorf, 51, said her husband of seven years suffered from depression as a symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. She only learned of it when she found a document on their printer he had prepared for an appointment at a Veterans Administration hospital.
"My husband kept all of this from me," she said. "I read it and was stunned because I had no idea what he was going through."
Military officials said last week that Army soldiers committed suicide in 2007 at the highest rate on record. The toll is climbing ever higher this year as long war deployments stretch on.
Lana Waldorf believes her husband's depression kept him from seeking help -- until it was too late -- and now she wants the military to conduct monthly evaluations for returning soldiers.
"Anyone coming back from a war where they have seen killing, where they have seen death, where they have feared for their own life, is going to come back with emotional wounds," she told the AP. "Those wounds need to be treated with loving care -- through a church, through the Veterans Administration, through their families. And the government needs to orchestrate this."
Greg Mitchell's new book has several chapters on Iraq vet suicides. It is titled So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq.