Today, on behalf of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation’s first and largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for the veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff issued the following statement in response to the shooting of U.S. troops by a fellow U.S. service member at a clinic inside Camp Liberty near Baghdad, Iraq:
"The events at Camp Liberty today are a great tragedy. The friends and families of those killed have suffered a terrible loss, and our thoughts are with them during this difficult time.
Unlike during the Vietnam War, today’s military is a professional, all-volunteer force. There have been only five cases of intentional fratricide by U.S. service members in Iraq. But these incidents, however rare, draw public attention to an important issue: the enormous stress on our armed forces. Many troops are under great psychological strain and are not receiving the treatment they need. Over 600,000 troops have served more than one combat tour since 9/11. Military suicide rates have hit record highs every year since 2003. Much more must be done to address troops’ psychological injuries before they reach a crisis point.”
IAVA recently launched a nationwide Veterans Support Campaign to provide support and critical mental health resources to new veterans and their friends and family. Veterans should visit www.CommunityOfVeterans.org , a social network exclusively for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and friends and family should visit www.SupportYourVet.org .