In a previous column, I asked troops, veterans, retirees and loved ones to chime in about what can be done to fix the suicide problem our military is facing. I received a number of thoughtful answers. A sampling:
• When our troops are deployed, they are special because they have a mission. They are told in many ways they are indispensible. Then we bring them home and they are put on details doing meaningless things like painting rocks. It’s demoralizing.
They are also told that if they seek mental health counseling, it will end their careers and they could lose their security clearances.
We need to give our troops a mission when they are home and not put them on stupid details to fill their day. And we need to ensure that they are given a sense of security and privacy so they feel able to talk to someone.
• The suicide issue goes hand-in-hand with the leadership problems. Too many leaders know their soldiers have issues that could lead to suicide as an outcome, and they are either too inexperienced or too poorly trained in many respects to react and get help for their people.
• The answer is simple: There is simply not enough support for troops suffering with depression. Most campaigns are focused exclusively on those suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder.