Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another useless death due to the Iraq war of a soldier -- this time in Maryland.

Well, that's one way to stay out of Iraq. But it seems such a waste: army reservist due to go to Iraq killed by police in standoff.

LEONARDTOWN, Maryland — A member of the U.S. Army Reserves despondent about being sent to Iraq was killed by police during a 14-hour standoff that began Christmas night when family members told authorities he was armed and threatening to kill himself.

James Emerick Dean, 28, had barricaded himself inside his father's house with several weapons Monday night, family members told police. He later told officers he would shoot anyone who entered the house. His father was not home at the time.

Around noon Tuesday, while police were preparing to use tear gas to force Dean out of the home, Dean came to the front door and pointed his weapon at an officer, St. Mary's County Sheriff Tim Cameron said. Another deputy shot Dean once, killing him.

Dean had already served 18 months in Afghanistan and was despondent after learning recently that he would be deployed to Iraq, family members told police.

During the standoff, Dean fired several shots at police, including one that struck a car where a deputy sat. The officer was not injured.

This is about as close as it gets to a suicide. If you shoot at police officers and then come out into plain sight and point a gun at one, well, let's say your chances of survival are probably less than if you had pointed the gun at yourself and pulled the trigger (some people actually do survive that).

It is true, that having signed on as a member of the army reserve James Dean knew he might be deployed, and during a war he knew he might be deployed to a war zone. At the same time, he had already gone to one, and apparently had done so willingly. Unlike regular units, reserve and national guard units are made up of people who have a job outside of the service-- and with the job, bills to pay and other responsibilities that are not shared by full time soldiers.

What this does show (for the umpteenth time, I might add) is the overreliance on the guard and reserve units by the Bush administration. They have finally proposed to do what John Kerry suggested two years ago, namely expand the standing army. But count on George W. Bush to start a long protracted war and then realize four years into it that we may need more troops.

The worst part of this is it is a tragedy that didn't have to happen. There should be regular post-war professional counseling available, free of charge, to all returning soldiers-- whether they are full time or not. Then when a situation like this comes up, at least someone may be in a position to identify it and get the person involved the help (s)he needs.

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