Yesterday, President Obama repealed a long-standing policy that refused condolence letters for the families of soldiers who commit suicide while in combat zones. Good for him. The word for such a policy is cruel.
If you have ever spoken to a soldier or veteran who has served in times of conflict, you know that there are things that they will never share. There are experiences that they have locked away as a means of self-preservation.
I remember attending a hearing regarding suicide in the military. A young, former Marine, a veteran/ psychiatrist as well as older veterans, who turned to substance abuse and other destructive behavior to mask their pain, testified. It was excruciating and I had to excuse myself. They were asking the VA to improve mental health outreach/benefits to veterans but more importantly to partner with community programs that serve and give continued support to veterans for depression and PTSD. The Marine had attempted suicide and had several fellow soldiers who succeeded.
The point is this, these people voluntarily serve this country and fight valiantly. If they break from the weight of war, does that make them less of a soldier? Does their family grieve less? And while I’m thinking about it, I am curious to know what the policy is for the spouse/children/family- do they receive whatever compensation is given to other soldiers who die in the line of duty?
Again, I applaud the policy change and thank our veterans and soldiers for their service.