14 December 2010
Suicide Prevention for the Military
Today is very sad and troubling days in the military. The hero’s are coming home from war safe and sound only to die by their own hands, suicide. I am deeply saddened to know that my band of brothers and sisters are dying. The fact that they are not dying on the battle field is not what has my sorrows at the forefront of my thoughts, but that they themselves are taking their lives by their own hands. There has to be away for the rest of us to help, and that help has to start now. The military is starting to set up programs for the mental health crisis that is sweeping today’s soldiers. We as American’s need to step to the forefront and push our countries leaders to address these issues and do what is right for the heros of today’s and yesterday’s defense of our country. Americans cannot sit by and think that just an initiative will fix or solve a problem; they need to take the hands on approach. There is a saying heard by most when entering a store; “If you break it you own it”. The author feels and believes that now that we have broken our American heros we own the right to fix them at all cost, monetary and emotionally. The soldiers of this country are an American commodity and we need them all in one piece, like pristine pieces of china. Without whole soldiers we as Americans will be left defenseless. The facts about the suicides that are happening after troops return from combat tours are really leaving Americans in mourning for too long a time. That mourning needs to stop now. The reports that are the most up to date state, last year alone there were 239 suicides with 1,700 attempts (“The Wars’ Continuing Toll”). Why have Americans not brought this to light earlier than now? Americans need to find and start the process to combat this invisible enemy and bring it out into the open. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 20 percent of the 30,000 suicides each year are veterans (“CRS Report for Congress”). This percent is 20 percent to many; just one percent is too many for us as Americans. The Defense Secretary Robert Gates has acknowledged that this is an epidemic, while attending an event for suicide prevention (“The Wars’ Continuing Toll”). There are reports that many veterans live to far from hospitals or clinics that can help them. There are other factors that contribute to this and that they are leaving work and missing time to be with friends and family, especially after long tours of active duty. (Talking about active duty soldiers they are doing multiple tours of duty and do not let their leaders know they are having problems and go untreated). The soldier’s mentality is that they don’t want to be stereotyped as being weak or a nut case. They would rather choose to tuff it out and act like nothing is wrong. The problem with this is they really don’t know the damage they are doing to themselves, or the danger they are putting the others in their unit in (“The Wars’ Continuing Toll”). The one thing that needs to be addressed is the time between deployments, known as “Dwell Time”. The dwell time should be the time that a soldier needs to seek help if they are having troubles associated with the tour they just returned from or other tours they may have been on. The leaders of these returning soldiers need to take a more proactive approach and tell his or her soldiers about programs that are there for their use. The more proactive leaders could and probably should schedule some type of reintegration program counseling before they release their soldiers from active duty. The author knows that as reservist the time is too short when they return to the states from a deployment. The Army pushes them through a short process and tries to get them out in as little as three days. That is never enough time to actually asses the individual soldier and that is how soldiers slip through the cracks (“When...
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