President Obama, on Wednesday, announced that he was reversing a long-standing policy and will again begin “sending condolence letters to families of service members who died as a result of suicide while in a combat zone.” Servicemen and women who commit suicide have still served our country, and an argument could be made that they would not have died if they had not been enlisted.
According to MSNBC.com, the decision was made after exhaustive reviews of prior policy, and the following statement was issued by President Obama: “This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak, and the fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change.”
The White House had been reviewing the policy since 2009. Suicides among service members have increased since the fighting in two overseas wars; repeated deployments and conditions such as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been diagnosed. It has long been acknowledged by officials that there is a shortage of mental health professionals in both the military and American civilian sectors. Not only should the military be counseling these soldiers, they should also follow up with all soldiers who have seen combat, much like policemen are seen by a counselor after being involved in gunfire. Much should be done to improve, and acknowledging the sacrifice these men and women have made is vital to showing support to their loved ones.
Several groups applaud the government’s efforts to finally recognize the loss to our nation created by the loss of these troops. It is also believed that presidential condolence letters should be sent to next of kin for those who die in other non-combat situations such as military training accidents stateside, sudden illnesses, and other causes. All military members should be acknowledged for their service, regardless of the circumstances of their death. President Obama is taking one step in the right direction as far as our military; now let’s take another and bring them all home.