This is one in a series of stories about Eugene/Springfield and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars produced by students in Dan Morrison's NewsLab class at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Morrison embedded with Marines in Helmand province in August 2010.
EUGENE, Ore. - Jim Schmidt is the President of the local chapter of Veterans for Peace, a national organization founded in 1985. He was drafted into the Army and served in active duty during the Vietnam war.
Lisa “Tree” Mitcheltree is also a member of Veterans for Peace. Mitcheltree served in the military from 1979 to 1981.
Both Schmidt and Mitcheltree are active with the Truth in Recruiting movement as well as being trained as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) counselor.
The number of suicides among American soldiers increased every year since 2004. In 2009 alone, 245 Army troops committed suicide.
In January 2010, four soldiers stationed in Fort Hood, Texas killed themselves in one weekend.
In an article published on rense.com in January of this year, Dr. Gary G. Kohls, M.D. states that there were more suicide deaths among active service members than there were KIAs, and cites the Department of Defense as his source for statistics.
On Oct. 16, Schmidt, Mitcheltree and other members of Veterans for Peace attended the March Out of Darkness, a walk held in Eugene to raise suicide awareness.
Veterans for Peace, as a collective, believe that war never justified because wars “are easy to start and hard to stop and that those hurt are often the innocent.”
Mitcheltree said she believes wars are “obsolete.”
Mitcheltree and Schmidt also spoke on video about the correlation between the recent spike in soldier suicides and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.