Despite all the puff from Rumsfeld and the Pentagon about just how great the war in Iraq is going, a recently issued report by army health experts reveals that morale is at a low ebb. It’s so bad that the army is rushing supplies of antidepressants and sleeping pills into the field and assigning one health care provider to each company to try to keep unhappy soldiers from killing themselves. In a study last fall these experts surveyed 756 troops in Iraq and Kuwait and found that 72 percent were down in the dumps themselves or their unit was suffering from low morale—due to stress from combat, the heat, lack of contact with families back home, and lousy living conditions. The study more or less corroborates a similar inquiry by Stars and Stripes last year: Twenty-four army soldiers and two marines killed themselves between between April and March; there were no suicides in the air force or navy.
Additional reporting: Phoebe St John, Alicia Ng, and Ashley Glacel