WHITE HOUSE REVERSES COURSE: Condolence Letters to Families Now Approved After Military Suicides
By LEO SHANE III
Stars & Stripes, July 5 ,2011
WASHINGTON — Both the president and defense secretary will now send condolence letters to the families of troops who commit suicide in combat zones, part of a broader effort to destigmatize the mental health costs of war.
President Barack Obama called the decision “emotional, painful and complicated,” but also said the change was necessary to recognize the heroism and internal struggles facing service members.
“These Americans served our nation bravely,” he said. “They didn’t die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change.”
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will follow the administration-wide policy and begin sending condolence letters to families of suicide victims deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat operations.
BLOGBACK: This is a positive move to reducing the stigma of military suicide, but it begs the question why condolence letters are only sent when a suicide occurs in a combat zone? This does not pass the common sense test. It is well known fact that most suicides — even those linked to combat experiences — occur when the service member is not in a combat zone. What do you think? Please share your thoughts by posting a comment below.