This is terrible.
According to Pentagon figures, 29 soldiers lost their lives in August for non-hostile reasons, and another 23 died of non-combat causes in September. Compare that with the average for the first seven months of this year: fewer than nine per month. The spike has coincided with extended 15-month deployments, one senior military official said.As a matter of perspective and comparison, it would be interesting to see the same data from other prolonged military engagements, if anyone has such information.
The military officially counts about 20% of the nearly 3900 U.S. fatalities in Iraq as "noncombat." It has officially confirmed 128 suicides in Iraq since 2003, with many others under investigation (and still more taking place on the return home).
Lt. Gen. Ham said morale remains high, but added, "I think there is a general consensus ... that for the Army, 15 months is a long hard tour. It's hard on the soldiers."