In a month on the frontline, Reuters photographer Goran Tomasevic saw the Syrian Rebel fighters in Damascus defend a swath of suburbs in the Syrian capital, mount complex mass attacks, manage logistics, treat their wounded…and die before his eyes.

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More U.S. Troops Died by Suicide Than in Afghanistan Combat in 2012

After a decade of war, more servicepeople died by their own hand last year than were killed in action with the enemy. Watch Ray Suarez’s interview with Dr. psychiatrist and retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Stephen Xenakis; interview highlights below.

Q: Why now? Why is the suicide rate going up when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been winding down?

A: We have seen this before. We saw it 20 years ago in the first Gulf War. We even in some ways saw it after Vietnam. I mean, the issues of medical health, of personal stress, of family stress, in fact, go up after the actual fighting has stopped and the soldiers redeploy, they’re back in garrison, because the force is still under a lot of stress.

And we find now, in fact, that the military is about to get into this phase of downsizing. Probably 100,000 or so Army soldiers and Marines will be leaving the military. There are going to be budget cuts. And all these things are putting great burden on the leadership and great burden on the soldiers on the front lines.

And that accumulates and builds, and it ends up that you have got that group that, in fact, will have — will commit suicide as their expression of that stress.

Q: If someone reports they are having trouble, are they given long-term treatment, or are they removed from the service first?

A: Well, both. Interestingly, and sadly, over half the people who commit suicide have already seen mental health clinicians…These are tough problems. The soldiers have…really been affected by a number different stresses.

It’s not just the emotional stress of combat and seeing their fellow soldiers killed and maimed. They have been exposed to IED blasts, have concussions. Their sleep patterns are very disturbed, which causes in of itself some sort of psychiatric and psychological difficulties.

They’re exposed to toxins. They come home to family situations. And they’re young people. And young people have a lot of ups and downs. So there’s lots of different factors here. And no one is the real particular cause for these suicides.

Q: So, what should we be on the lookout for? Is there any way that’s reliable to keep an eye on people who may be in real trouble when they come back from active duty?

A: There’s not one real technique or tactic you can use. What we should recognize is that this is an epidemic, in the sense that it’s across the Army. The whole Army has been — and Marine Corps and the other services under — have been a lot of stress. And the focus, I think, is on changing the culture and making and bringing the spotlight on to the individual and everyone being concerned for the kinds of stresses that they’re showing and that may lead to the various problems.

I mean, there are problems with misconduct, with family abuse, with drug and alcohol abuse, with sexual assaults. There’s all sorts of things that really end up being the signals of these 10 years of war and stress on the individuals.”

Related:
Transcript
Video: The Wilderness After War — Living with PTSD 

Palestinian girls run away after an Israeli air strike on a house in the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 18. Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters.
In Gaza, there are no sirens, no warnings and no bomb shelters. “We put plastic on the glass so that if it’s shattered during an air strike we won’t get hurt,” 35-year-old Marwa Bahar relays by telephone. “We run out to get supplies — bread, gasoline for generators and water — whenever we can. During bombing it’s safer in the apartment stairwell but nowhere is really safe.”
A colleague told me about the Almadhun family — four of the five family members are deaf. There’s no electricity in Gaza so they have no way of receiving television cues or audio warnings of any sort when air and naval strikes are ongoing.
"We also stay together. My sister lives on the 10th floor and now she has move into our place on the second floor," added Bahar. "If people live in different parts of the city, they stay together in one place. It helps with support. If anything, this situation makes people more committed to Hamas."
His face smeared with soot and white dust coating his black T-shirt , 30-year-old Ahmed Saleh stands atop the rubble that had been his home a day before.
"It was morning and we were sleeping. The walls collapsed. We didn’t understand what was happening and we couldn’t find the children. We had to dig them out. They were buried underneath the rubble."
The irony is that as European, U.N., U.S., Egyptian and Arab League leaders work overtime to hammer out a ceasefire deal, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel continue pounding each other. And the death toll is mounting in Gaza.

Palestinian girls run away after an Israeli air strike on a house in the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 18. Photo by Mohammed Salem/Reuters.

In Gaza, there are no sirens, no warnings and no bomb shelters. “We put plastic on the glass so that if it’s shattered during an air strike we won’t get hurt,” 35-year-old Marwa Bahar relays by telephone. “We run out to get supplies — bread, gasoline for generators and water — whenever we can. During bombing it’s safer in the apartment stairwell but nowhere is really safe.”

A colleague told me about the Almadhun family — four of the five family members are deaf. There’s no electricity in Gaza so they have no way of receiving television cues or audio warnings of any sort when air and naval strikes are ongoing.

"We also stay together. My sister lives on the 10th floor and now she has move into our place on the second floor," added Bahar. "If people live in different parts of the city, they stay together in one place. It helps with support. If anything, this situation makes people more committed to Hamas."

His face smeared with soot and white dust coating his black T-shirt , 30-year-old Ahmed Saleh stands atop the rubble that had been his home a day before.

"It was morning and we were sleeping. The walls collapsed. We didn’t understand what was happening and we couldn’t find the children. We had to dig them out. They were buried underneath the rubble."

The irony is that as European, U.N., U.S., Egyptian and Arab League leaders work overtime to hammer out a ceasefire deal, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Israel continue pounding each other. And the death toll is mounting in Gaza.


Hamas official: “There is no more peace process”
Hamas representative Usamah Hamdan agreed to come on the NewsHour’s broadcast to be interviewed by correspondent Ray Suarez by phone. But Hamdan cancelled the interview shortly before it was expected to happen. 
We were intending to run the interview following Suarez’s interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.
During an off-camera conversation with the NewsHour earlier in the day, Hamdan blamed the Israel’s military offensive in Gaza on Israeli politics:

"I think the Israelis are trying to gain some votes in the upcoming election," he said, referring to the Israeli Parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 2013. "They are trying to improve their chances with the voters."
Hamdan also defended rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israeli population centers as the only possible response to the Israel’s technological advantage. “I think when you are facing an occupation, an armed occupation with air support and the best weapons made in the U.S.A., what do you do? You must do the best you can.” He allowed that from a military standpoint, the Gazans’ “weapons will not be equal to what the Israelis have, but we must resist until we are liberated.”
Hamdan also said the lack of a peace process as a reason to continue rocket attacks into Israel. “There is no more peace process,” he said. “Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is considered an obstacle by Israel and Netanyahu is not interested…So what are we to do? We must liberate our own.”
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Hamas official: “There is no more peace process”

Hamas representative Usamah Hamdan agreed to come on the NewsHour’s broadcast to be interviewed by correspondent Ray Suarez by phone. But Hamdan cancelled the interview shortly before it was expected to happen. 

We were intending to run the interview following Suarez’s interview with Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren.

During an off-camera conversation with the NewsHour earlier in the day, Hamdan blamed the Israel’s military offensive in Gaza on Israeli politics:

"I think the Israelis are trying to gain some votes in the upcoming election," he said, referring to the Israeli Parliamentary elections scheduled for Jan. 2013. "They are trying to improve their chances with the voters."

Hamdan also defended rocket attacks launched from Gaza into Israeli population centers as the only possible response to the Israel’s technological advantage. “I think when you are facing an occupation, an armed occupation with air support and the best weapons made in the U.S.A., what do you do? You must do the best you can.” He allowed that from a military standpoint, the Gazans’ “weapons will not be equal to what the Israelis have, but we must resist until we are liberated.”

Hamdan also said the lack of a peace process as a reason to continue rocket attacks into Israel. “There is no more peace process,” he said. “Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] is considered an obstacle by Israel and Netanyahu is not interested…So what are we to do? We must liberate our own.”

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"I withheld color from all the book. Everything is either black or white or not mentioned, until he gets home, and then those cotton fields are pink before they turn, and then the trees. And he even says, were the trees always this deep green? So, all the palette is pushed toward the end. So the reader feels that comfort and safety of home."

Toni Morrison on her latest novel “Home,” which chronicles the story of soldier Frank Money, who returns home after his service in the Korean War only to be greeted with both the institutional and casual realities of daily prejudice.

(Full interview here)

Sergeant William Stacey left this letter to be read in the event of his death. He died in a bombing earlier this year in Afghanistan. It was his fourth deployment. 

Sergeant William Stacey left this letter to be read in the event of his death. He died in a bombing earlier this year in Afghanistan. It was his fourth deployment. 

"There’s a lot of things that I’ve seen, a lot of things that veterans see during war in a combat zone that are honestly some of the ugliest things you would ever see, that you could ever even imagine — inhumane actions that are done by a veteran themselves that just make them feel like monsters," said Marine Corps veteran David Keefe. "The only people who are going to understand are veterans themselves. They feel like a community, so they can integrate into society."

Combat Paper: Veterans Battle War’s Demons With Paper-Making

RASUL By David KeefePrinted in January, 2012
"I couldn’t get over the fact that how much I looked like an alien to him. (I was) this big monster with all this gear on me, and this little kid was malnourished and (bowlegged). I remember going back to that same area a few times and seeing the same family just around. One time I went back and they were completely gone. … I don’t know what happened," Keefe said.
The Combat Paper Project allows veterans to repurpose uniforms into art, a process that has helped veterans make sense of their experiences in a constructive, safe and artistic environment.
Slideshow: Veterans Battle War’s Demons With Paper-Making
We’ll have more on Combat Paper tonight on NewsHour. 

RASUL 
By David Keefe
Printed in January, 2012

"I couldn’t get over the fact that how much I looked like an alien to him. (I was) this big monster with all this gear on me, and this little kid was malnourished and (bowlegged). I remember going back to that same area a few times and seeing the same family just around. One time I went back and they were completely gone. … I don’t know what happened," Keefe said.

The Combat Paper Project allows veterans to repurpose uniforms into art, a process that has helped veterans make sense of their experiences in a constructive, safe and artistic environment.

Slideshow: Veterans Battle War’s Demons With Paper-Making

We’ll have more on Combat Paper tonight on NewsHour. 

"In 2008, Congress passed a law allowing up to 5,000 Iraqis who’d worked with Americans to come to the U.S. with their families as refugees each year. But the process of issuing visas has been slow. In no year has the number exceeded 1,500. And, since 2009, it’s been falling."
Thousands of Iraqis Who Helped Americans in War Caught in Visa Holdup

"In 2008, Congress passed a law allowing up to 5,000 Iraqis who’d worked with Americans to come to the U.S. with their families as refugees each year. But the process of issuing visas has been slow. In no year has the number exceeded 1,500. And, since 2009, it’s been falling."

Thousands of Iraqis Who Helped Americans in War Caught in Visa Holdup

(Source: http)

"…Oftentimes, the only acknowledgment I get is somebody handing me a handshake and saying, "Thank you for your service."
And I personally feel, if you are really grateful, go do something for a vet. Go volunteer for a charity. Go start one. Go help in some capacity.”
Four Iraq war veterans share their experiences and reflect on the personal impact of the nine-year war.

"…Oftentimes, the only acknowledgment I get is somebody handing me a handshake and saying, "Thank you for your service."

And I personally feel, if you are really grateful, go do something for a vet. Go volunteer for a charity. Go start one. Go help in some capacity.”

Four Iraq war veterans share their experiences and reflect on the personal impact of the nine-year war.