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October 26, 2005

Why 2,000 > 2,000

Iraq’s grim multiplier effect:

Elaina Morton is not listed as one of the 2,000 Americans now confirmed killed in Iraq since the start of the war, but she might as well be. In US military parlance the 23-year-old lab technician from Kansas would have been referred to as a “surviving spouse”. But three months after her husband, Staff Sergeant Benjamin Morton, was killed by insurgents in Mosul, Elaina picked up a gun and shot herself.
The fact that the military did not issue a press release to announce the death of the former college student who loved her cat, Stinky, and enjoyed hiking, photography and camping, does not make her any less a casualty of the war. Hers is thought to be the first confirmed case of a war widow committing suicide, and as the US toll in Iraq yesterday hit the grim 2,000 landmark her death is proof of the immeasurable emotional toll that the conflict has put on families of servicemen and women.
… Deedy Salie knows the feelings of isolation and desperation that Elaina Morton must have gone through before she took her life. Deedy’s husband, David, was killed on Valentine’s Day last year when his Humvee was blown up by an improvised explosive device in the restive city of Baquba, north-east of Baghdad.
… Deedy says her daughter, Chyna, 12, was so angry with her father for going to Iraq and getting killed that she has only just begun to grieve. Lucas, six, had nightmares about insurgents hiding in the flowerbeds. She doesn’t know what Hunter, three, is thinking. When the family was living near the army base, support groups were available. But Deedy, like Elaina Morton and countless other bereaved spouses, moved away to be closer to friends and family. And that was the last she heard from the army.
“I don’t expect the army to coddle me for the rest of my life, but at the same time we should not be thrown to the wind,” she says. “There should be somebody who calls, a professional who can pick up on things. I keep thinking about that poor girl who killed herself. Who is to say that if a grief counsellor had been calling her just once a month they wouldn’t have picked up on those subtle little hints?”

Posted by Stephen at 1:57 PM in War | Permalink | TrackBack (0)

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