There wasn’t a big celebration, but March was the first month that there were no military deaths in Afghanistan since January 2007.
Any celebration would have been bittersweet, since military operations have claimed the lives of 2,176 U.S. personnel in Afghanistan and 4,474 in Iraq, along with countless injuries.
For the first month since February 2003, no U.S. troops died in Afghanistan or Iraq. That’s 133 months — more than a decade.
The last convoy of American troops left Iraq in December 2011. And even though the role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan has shifted away from combat and is focused on training and advising Afghan forces, we know that instability is always a threat in that country.
All we can do is keep our fingers crossed in hopes that we can pull Americans out of that part of the world as soon as possible.
But the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a new war at home.
News out of Fort Hood, Texas, recently tainted the good news of no deaths in March. Military authorities report a soldier, Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed three people at the fort in a rampage that also wounded 16 others before he put a gun to his head and took his own life.
Authorities have been reporting that Lopez never saw combat during a deployment to Iraq and had not shown any risk prior to the shootings. However, he was being treated for depression, anxiety and other problems.
Mental health issues are far too common among the hundreds, if not thousands, of our military personnel returning home. Many others have committed suicide in Iraq and Afghanistan, or upon returning to the states.
"We have very strong evidence that he had a medical history that indicates an unstable psychiatric or psychological condition," base senior officer Lt. Gen. Mark Milley said. "We believe that to be a fundamental underlying cause."
Our war at home is to find answers to mental illness and how to stop tragedies like Fort Hood before they occur.
This is our new war and one we all need to get behind.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.