Appearing on “The Alex Jones Show” Tuesday, rocker and National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent claimed the epidemic of soldier suicides that’s baffled some of the nation’s brightest psychologists is much easier to understand if you just blame President Barack Obama.
“I’m sure the leftist blogs are gonna attack me, misquote me,” he began. “But I’ll tell you why more and more warrior heroes of the military are killing themselves: because they are in absolute frustration and heartbreak that their boss, their commander in chief violates the Constitution that he has made an oath to, while their hero warrior blood brothers are being blown to smithereens and blown up while executing their oath to the same Constitution that the president, the vice president and the attorney general violate.”
It’s hard to say where Nugent is coming from on this one, mainly because he doesn’t cite any of the president’s specific policy actions. Regardless of Nugent’s claims, military suicides began setting annual records before Obama was president, and have not slowed or subsided even though the Iraq war officially ended on Dec. 15, 2011.
At the National Center for Veterans Studies, recent interviews with soldiers whose suicide attempts failed found that each individual has a complex set of reasons for wanting to end their life, with many listing more than 10 different stress factors in their personal lives. The suicide rate was highest among soldiers who were divorced or separated.
Other recent research points to a potential link between suicide and traumatic brain injuries caused by explosions on the battlefield. “Evidence has suggested that blast injuries, including but not limited to those causing damage to vision or hearing, can have a severe psychological impact… that can play a major contributing role in suicides,” 53 members of Congress wrote in a letter sent to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in March.
Another major cause of stress for veterans and military families is the serious backlog for disability claims at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where hundreds of thousands of claims a year sit unaddressed as soldiers go without needed support and care. Thankfully, the VA has been making a big push to reform that system and clear the backlog, and recently issued temporary approval for every claim more than a year old. The VA also revoked bonuses for its senior management until the backlog is cleared.
Reacting to Nugent, conspiracy talk host Alex Jones urged soldiers to turn their anger and frustration into “fighting corruption” at home, rather than turning it into violence against themselves. “I know it’s got to be confusing, Obama is a hijacker of this country,” he said. “We were talking during the break about how they are funding radical Muslims, funding al Qaeda, and I believe letting them attack to then take our liberties. They now say the tea party is the main focus, not al Qaeda, and you agreed with me. Uncle Ted, what do you think is happening with the funding of terrorists?”
“When we look the other way — all we have to do is go back and really examine 9/11,” Nugent said, insisting that government agencies “weren’t even allowed to communicate” because of a “Bill Clinton law,” but everyone somehow knew an attack was coming and did nothing about it.
“Alex, you just gotta be kidding me!” Nugent concluded. “And the point is, here in 2013, that kind of anti-Americanism, that kind of manipulation still goes on with the welfare scams and largess that go to these organizations that try to tell us that Islam suicide bombers are a religion of peace. I mean, it’s just all so offensive, intellectually bankrupt and ultimately treasonous. I used the word treasonous because it’s accurate.”
This audio is from “The Alex Jones Show,” aired Tuesday, April 30, 2013, as snipped by Media Matters.