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Declared "Fit for Duty" and Sent to Afghanistan, Another Soldier Commits Suicide

By Ralph Lopez - Posted on 02 January 2011


Having twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., then sent to a mental institution near the base, the Army nevertheless declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan.  

After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.

He was from Grass Valley, in Northern California, about as ordinary a town as you can imagine.  

Median income $28,000, 90% white, probably not a whole lot of options for someone just out of high school who cannot afford college.

And all this sending every available soldier to these places is for what?   A report on this New Year's Eve Global Conference Call for Peace with Afghan Youth, by's David Swanson describes:

I listened as Afghans and Americans asked each other about their lives. When it was my turn, I asked these courageous young Afghans how Americans should reply when their countrymen and women claim that the war is good for Afghans. They told me to look at the statistics from the Ministry of Health on the effects of the war, the bombings, the raids. Afghanistan now has the third highest infant mortality and in the past year 3,000 Afghan women and girls suffering from depression committed suicide. The war has made things worse, they told me.
To the argument that the Taliban would be worse, they pointed out that the war is leading many to join and call themselves the Taliban in order to fight the foreigners and are thereby being radicalized. What's not being addressed, they said, are the roots of terrorism: poverty, hate, revenge, anger, and the lack of meaningful relationships between peoples.

They also pointed out that the United States is funding both sides of the war, funneling money to the Taliban through the Pakistani military and through payoffs for safe-passage and by funding warlords.

The article is entitled "What Do Afghans Think of the War? Ask Them!"

The Army reports that since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, soldier suicide rates have soared.  In 2004, the Army reported that 67 soldiers on active duty committed suicide; by 2009 that number had jumped to 162.

Friends and family described David Senft as friendly and sweet, but emotionally fragile.

The wars keep rolling on, with latest record-breaking appropriation for the Pentagon and continuing military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq having passed last month just before Christmas, with no debate and little coverage in the media.  Here is the roll call of votes.

Not everyone is downbeat about the wars. says effusively in a 2010 article "How to Profit from the War in Afghanistan":

The Afghanistan troop surge means profits! ... [T]he likelihood that the US will end up the loser in Afghanistan is a long-term worry. In the short-term, military contractors doing business in Afghanistan will make a boatload of money.

A boatload of money.

A gentle snow fell on the funeral of Staff Sgt. David Senft at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 16...

He was found in a parked SUV on an air base in Kandahar.  On his cellphone was a text message, unsent, consisting simply of two words: "I'm sorry."

Good-bye, David.  You are another brother I never knew.

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Book Tour

May 19, Sarasota, FL, 7:00 p.m. Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center 525 Kumquat Court, Sarasota, FL

May 20, Jacksonville, FL, 7:00 p.m., Florida Christian Center Auditorium, 1115 Edgewood Ave S, Jacksonville, FL 32205, (904) 381-4800.

May 21, Gainesville, FL
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
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Fresno, CA 93710

June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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