When the U.S. military death toll in Iraq dropped to 13 last month it received wide attention. But now, midway through August, the toll this month has already topped the July rate. Meanwhile, two more Iraq vets have killed themselves here at home.
A U.S. marine killed by gunmen in Fallujah west of Baghdad on Thursday became the 15th American to die in August. A troubling seven had died in noncombat incidents. The 15 tally tops July by two.
And the war at home? Each week -- some time each day -- brings the report of another Iraq vet suicide. One of today's stories appears in the Mansfield News Journal in Ohio., and concerns Derrick Hendon who was buried in Rittman after suffering from severe 'behavioral problems," according to those who knew him.
He died at home in Akron, three years after leaving the fighting. But he was one of the war's casualties. ''I think our whole family was a casualty of war,'' ex-wife Maya Hendon said in an e-mail from Israel, where she now lives. Derrick Hendon, 25, was found in the early morning of July 31, hanging by an extension cord in the garage of his North Akron home. ''I'm just tired,'' the Ohio Army National Guardsman wrote in a suicide note.
Both Maya Hendon, who moved to Israel in 2007 with the couple's two children, and Tina Evans, the soldier's sister, say Hendon was changed by the war. They believe all returning servicemen and women should be required to get psychological counseling.
''I think he died in Iraq,'' Evans said.
Then there's this:
Hendon opposed war. Maya Hendon said her ex-husband got an early discharge from the National Guard because he opposed the fighting, even though he had great love for America and initially supported the war. From the moment he was sent to Iraq, she said, ''he was trying to get out. I know he went through some traumatic experiences, but he didn't really want to talk about it.''
She said after he returned home, Hendon, whom she had met in an Akron clothing store in 2001, never sought help. ''Derrick was the love of my life,'' Maya Hendon said.
Also, the Leaf Chronicle in Clarksville, Tenn., reports the suicide of Spc. Carl B. McCoy, 23, a likely PTSD victim who had problems with alcohol. His wife, Sgt. Maggie McCoy, said he didn't get adequate help from the military after two deployments to Iraq. He saw friends lose limbs and die next to him during the recapture of Fallujah.
"He saw a lot of things that he didn't care to go into detail about," Maggie McCoy said. "He couldn't hear the fireworks go off at the Fourth of July. ... He'd have nightmares about this and that."
Greg Mitchell's new book includes several chapters on soldier suicides. It is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.