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The Boston Globe

Editorials

Juliette Kayyem

For soldiers, the enemy may be themselves

Army finds that new recruits may already be prone to self-destructive behavior

PRESIDENT OBAMA recently broke a longstanding tradition and began writing letters of condolence to the families of soldiers who died from suicide. It was an important acknowledgment that the nation will honor those who served but perished by means other than combat. Obama’s decision applied only to soldiers who died overseas. Ironically, many soldiers who commit suicide have not been in the Army long enough to ever deploy.

The most dangerous year to be a soldier is the first year, and, as evidenced in a recent Army report, that has nothing to do with the Taliban, Iraqi insurgents, or poor training. It may, in fact, have more to do with the conditions of the recruits coming in.

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