Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don't ask, don't tell - or "Tell somebody, if you're thinking of suicide"

No, I am not talking about sexual orientation, though you would be right in assuming same.

In this post, I am going to address the insanity that is taking place all over the US military, particularly in recent months at Fort Campbell, KY. Suicide, ladies and gentlemen. It seems that 11 soldiers have committed suicide since January at that army base - the highest in the army - that is an average of 2 a month - this is insane, folks. We have a huge problem.

True to form, the army had the general and commander of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell address his troops. Was the tone warm and fuzzy, accepting and consoling? Hell no! He ORDERED them to cease and desist. I quote: "If you don't remember anything else I say in the next five or 10 minutes, remember this -- suicidal behavior in the 101st on Fort Campbell is bad," Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend told his forces. "It's bad for soldiers, it's bad for families, bad for your units, bad for this division and our army and our country and it's got to stop now. Suicides on Fort Campbell have to stop now."

My regular readers will recall my posts from earlier this year addressing this issue along with PTSD and how the military refuses to adequately address this problem within their ranks. To simply tell soldiers to stop killing themselves in an authoritarian tone is not going to solve the problem.

I was a military wife in another lifetime and also struggle with depression. I vividly recall my first overdose attempt - I was a new mother, and overwhelmed with the stress of living in yet another new place, away from family and friends - my husband at the time was facing a court martial and I felt so desperately alone. I took an untold number of pills and went to bed. I woke later, sad to be alive, and at the same time, grateful to have one friend whom I could call. The military doctors I saw did no follow up - they pumped my stomach, patched me up, put me on some anti depressants and essentially told me to live with it! Ouch!

I do not share this story to achieve pity, but rather to illustrate what happens when one is driven to desperate measures. Those serving in the military, those who are the uniform wearers and the unofficial military members - their job is increasingly difficult - the enemy is real - in some cases, at least in the case of this war - the enemy has been their lying government. VA hospitals continue to be woefully underfunded.

If a soldier admits to having a problem with mental health issues, he might be relieved of duty - that is, taken off assignment, relieved of his weapons - remember the recent shooting of 5 in Iraq by the soldier who had recently been relieved of his weapon? - shipped back to the US and any other number of unacceptable consequences might befall him or her.

Please read this article in its entirety and then call your congressperson - let them know that you support the troops but are concerned that they are stretched beyond their breaking points. We cannot simply continue to sweep the issue of mental illness under the rug - that elephant will not stay under the rug anymore - it is too damn visible - the carcass is rotting and the flies are swarming.

No comments: