Not to be all holier-than-thou and all, and I certainly know that not all gamers confuse fantasy with reality, but is anyone else troubled by the fact that Call of Duty's Modern Warfare 2 is the highest selling video game in Europe and the USA this Christmas Season, even beating out FIFA 10, even though soccer is the world's most widely followed sport? Is this really Christmas fare...?
I guess the main reason I find it troubling is because there are soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq who are doing their fourth, and even fifth tours of duty. The brunt and burden of this war is being placed upon the shoulders of a small set of families while the rest of the nation has been asked to make no sacrifice whatsoever. Moreover, the realistic action portayed in MW2 is precisely the kind of thing, which, when it occurs in reality, afflicts our troops with PTSD. It reminds me of paintball weekend-warriors who would never dream of actually enlisting themselves. I'm sorry, I'm not anti-gaming or anti-escapism, but I think there's something obscene about this kind of thing while there's an actual war going on.
From Time magazine, on December 14th, A Mounting Suicide Rate Prompts an Army Response:
The recently released figure for November show that 12 soldiers are suspected of taking their own lives, bringing to 147 the total suicides for 2009, the highest since the Army began keeping track in 1980. Last year the Army had 140 suicides.The Hidden Front - Combat PTSD
Although Army officials don't blame the spike on repeated deployments to war zones, evidence is mounting to the contrary. Only about a third of Army suicides happen in war zones, officials note, and another third are among personnel who had never deployed. But that means two-thirds of Army suicides have deployed, many returning home with mental scars that make them prone to take their own lives, the Army's No. 2 officer said last week...
Nearly 1 in 5 soldiers — more than 300,000 — comes home from the wars reporting symptoms of PTSD. Army officials also acknowledge that substance abuse, fueled by repeated combat tours, and a war-created shortage of mental-health professionals, contribute to mental ills that can lead to suicide...
Chiarelli, the Army's top suicide fighter, finds the challenge daunting. "This is horrible," the Army vice chief of staff said recently. "The challenge of suicides," added the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, "is without a doubt the toughest that I have had to tackle in 37-plus years in the Army."
Chiarelli has singled out abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs by soldiers as a mental-health issue that can lead to suicide. "I think there's a link to substance abuse in some of the issues we're seeing," Chiarelli said last month. A recent Army study shows that the percentage of soldiers in Afghanistan taking antidepressants and other mental-health drugs nearly tripled — from 3.5% to 9.8% — between their first and third deployments.
The Army's corps of substance-abuse counselors is hundreds short of the number of trained personnel needed. "I have been pounding the system to say we have got to sit down and determine what we need after eight years of war," Chiarelli said. That shortage has made it tougher "to handle what I think is a higher rate of substance abuse today than eight years ago." Why is it higher? "I think it's only natural you're going to see that as soldiers come back [from war], you know, with the dwell time that they have [before returning to war], that we're going to have a higher rate." Last week, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said pressure on the Army means that for the next two years, soldiers will continue to ship off to their next combat tour without sufficient rest at home.
Today's Boston Herald cover story:
911 on video game obsession
Prof: Games are fun, but play down pain of warfare