February 15, 2009

Last night a friend from Long Island told me that he read about a Marine committing suicide in Canada. He was wondering if I heard about it and was it one of the resisters we have been writing about. Immediately I checked all the blogs that might have mentioned it and could find nothing. I told him it would have been on one of these blogs if it was true. A few minutes later, L-girl posed four questions at the end of the troubling post on her blog, We Move To Canada:

A U.S. Marine wanted by the military for abandoning his unit, who fatally shot himself after sneaking across the border into Canada, had served two terms in Iraq, officials said Saturday.

Timothy Scott, 22, turned a gun on himself Thursday at his mother's home near Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

A statement released by the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina on Saturday said Scott had been deployed to Iraq for eight months in 2007 and for seven months in 2008.

The Marine rifleman, who was assigned to headquarters and the support battalion at Camp Lejeune, had joined the Marine Corps in 2005, said the statement.

Police said Scott, who left his unit sometime around Feb. 10, entered into Canada from Woodstock, New Brunswick, on Feb. 11. He arrived at his mother's home the next day, where he initially threatened her before turning the gun on himself, said RCMP Staff Sgt. Mark Furey.

The Marine Corps. statement said Scott lived in Alexandria, Virginia, close to where Furey said his parents owned another home in Norfolk, Virginia.

Furey said the handgun the soldier used on himself was reported stolen from the Norfolk home.

Cpl. Melissa McCoy at Camp Lejeune said he had been listed as leaving the unit in what the military deems an "unauthorized absence," meaning he had been away from the base for less than 30 days. After that, he would be considered a deserter.

Scott's death represents a larger trend of rising rates of suicides within the U.S. Army as the strained military wages war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army had its highest rate of suicide on record in 2008 and is investigating a spike in the number in January.

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point in upstate New York recently addressed the growing rate of suicides after a four cadets took their own lives earlier this month. In the last seven months, two cadets, a faculty member and a staff member at the academy have taken their own lives at the school.

Top Veterans Affairs Committee Sens. Daniel Akaka and Richard Burr have asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to convene a joint oversight committee meeting to address military suicides.

How can a man who served two tours in a war, and has had enough, be a deserter?

How can the desire to leave the military and lead a new life be against the law?

How can we turn our backs on people whose pain is this great?

How can we live with a government that won't listen to the people?

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