2.14.2009

even death can be resistance: awol marine commits suicide in nova scotia

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?

9 comments:

The Mound of Sound said...

Please, don't exploit this. I grew up with a disabled WWII vet and a community of his kind. They don't destroy themselves out of political principle as you imply but because of the scars they bring home that go unnoticed until someone decides they can take that person's suicide and transform it into "resistance". Please, stop attaching your political theatre to this guy's suicide. That's the sort of thing the far-right does. We're better than that.

L-girl said...

I'm sorry you see my work to support military resistance as exploitation.

I fully know that soldiers do not commit suicide out of political principle. But death can rightly be read as a form of resistance: it is the ultimate refusal. That goes for all suicides, not just military.

I also know about suicide on a personal level, and this is how I see it.

I'm disgusted that you see work on behalf of peace and justice as "political theatre".

Thanks for your thoughts, but I will continue to use this blog to support military resistance in every way I know how. For me, highlighting the horrors of suicides among troops and veterans is part of that.

skdadl said...

L-girl, I agree with you -- these are some of the clearest cases of the sometimes debatable truth that the personal is political.

Surely the scars that vets bring home (or, it sounds, that some develop in training even before they're deployed) tell us something about the nature of the wars we conduct and how we conduct them, not to mention how we (and especially the U.S.) treat returning vets.

I also think that suicides in general can be a final statement of resistance, a last chance to assert one's full independent humanity.

Obviously, neither of us is counselling suicide. We're reading these incidents as evidence that we are doing something wrong, and we must address the wrong, the many wrongs.

L-girl said...

Thank you skdadl, I appreciate your perspective.

As you probably know, for me the personal is always political. But perhaps people misunderstand that maxim, thinking it means a person's actions always intend to be political. Rather, it means that every personal act has a larger, social, political context.

Re suicide, that context might be (for example) the lack of resources for mental health care, poverty and its causes, unemployment, and/or war, to name a few.

Gene said...

Very sad news! I agree that it's all interrelated.

CDNS11 said...

What stuns me, whenever I listen to a 'resister's' story, is how YOUNG these
men are...like the 'shiminitism'(sp)12th-graders choosing jail over killing their neighbor. It seems we are jailing moral youth for NOT wanting to kill!?!

cheers,
G.

L-girl said...

It seems we are jailing moral youth for NOT wanting to kill!?!

There it is in a nutshell. Thank you, CNDS11.

Cornelia said...

I am really glad that most people do use other and more preferable and recommendable and less sad means of resistance, like when somebody said: "That teacher was so horrible at school and at home he was even way worse. One of his sons moved out as soon as he was of age but alas, the other one killed himself." Of course, it was a much better idea to move out...
I would see the suicide as a very grievous repercussion of the domestic violence at the hands of the old idiot.
But the suicide in question shows of course also how terrible the whole Bush Iraq exploitation and lack of help for trauma is and to what grievous repercussions it can amount!

MSEH said...

"But death can rightly be read as a form of resistance: it is the ultimate refusal. That goes for all suicides, not just military."

Exactly.

Exploitation? Is it preferable to look the other way, viewing it as an individual's act, occurring in isolation, completely detached from the broader context in which that individual lived and was impacted?