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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:01 PM

U.S. Army To Build Soldier "Resilience" To Fight Suicides, Violence

Source: REUTERS

By Laura L. Myers
TACOMA, Washington | Mon Feb 4, 2013 10:09pm EST
(Reuters) - The U.S. Army, grappling with a spike in military suicides, plans to take steps to improve soldiers' resilience to mental health problems to combat such deaths as well as depression, substance abuse, and violent behavior, Army Secretary John McHugh said on Monday.

McHugh ordered Army officials to lay out detailed plans by February 15 to boost soldiers' "physical, emotional and psychological resilience," but did not reveal program specifics, such as estimated costs or goals.

"Interventions are not coming as soon as I would like to see them," McHugh told a news conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state. "Taking care of soldiers is one of our top priorities. It is not just a necessity but a moral imperative."

The announcement came after the U.S. military acknowledged in January that suicides had hit a record last year, outpacing combat deaths, with 349 active-duty suicides - almost one per day.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/05/us-usa-army-health-idUSBRE91404R20130205

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Reply U.S. Army To Build Soldier "Resilience" To Fight Suicides, Violence (Original post)
Purveyor Feb 2013 OP
House of Roberts Feb 2013 #1
Socal31 Feb 2013 #6
JustABozoOnThisBus Feb 2013 #8
Socal31 Feb 2013 #10
BlueStreak Feb 2013 #2
musical_soul Feb 2013 #3
judesedit Feb 2013 #4
Socal31 Feb 2013 #7
Victor_c3 Feb 2013 #5
Ash_F Feb 2013 #9
docgee Feb 2013 #11
bemildred Feb 2013 #14
TwilightGardener Feb 2013 #12
bemildred Feb 2013 #13

Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:27 PM

1. Maybe the plans could include

pay scales that don't require food aid, staying out of unnecessary conflicts, and teaching them skills that are useful outside the military. My dad came back from WW2 with experience with heavy machinery, as well as the supervisory skills of a master sergeant, and was hired by his national guard company commander for a job that lasted until he retired. Now, with so much support from outside contractors, the only thing they learn is how to shoot a gun, or a bigger gun, or an even bigger gun.

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Response to House of Roberts (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:48 AM

6. Pay-scale has nothing to do with it.

There are opportunities in the military that are but a dream in the civilian population.

That sword is double edged, however. There are also "opportunities" to do and see things that the brain simply cannot process, and tries to compartmentalize. For some, this works. For others, it doesn't.

The way you perceive what you are doing has to have an effect on the % of extreme PTSD cases. I am obviously not a doctor and am pulling this out of my rear, but it is my guess. Also the perception by the public of what you are doing/did will change how you are treated when you arrive home (jobs, etc).

It is one thing to see death of friends and civilians, destruction, and other unspeakable things that only other people who have served have seen. It is another thing to not believe in the reason you are there in the first place (Iraq), or initially believe in the mission like most Americans, and then realize everything you are doing is going to be reversed the minute you pull out. (Afghanistan)

Nobody wants to be the last one killed by a 1980s Soviet shell hooked up to a remote, while patrolling a desert wasteland that nobody wants or cares about (except the part with the precious metals.)

Bring them home. All of them. Immediately. If there is an end-date on a war, we shouldn't be there. Open-ended wars are against our constitution (Drugs, Terror), unless there is a clear victory milestone or truce or cease-fire.

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Response to Socal31 (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:12 AM

8. Pay may have something to do with it

Return from a deployment, and there is no relief from stress. With low pay, it's just a different kind of stress.

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Response to JustABozoOnThisBus (Reply #8)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:22 AM

10. Could be a minor factor, but they made un-taxed combat money with nowhere to spend it.

Would even a 20% "welcome home" stipend ease the survivors guilt of knowing your friend who took your spot in the patrol leaving the gate, being killed on that patrol?

Or finding the decapitated body of a local villager who had just been helping you and your squadron the last time you visited?

Or coming home to a husband/wife/significant other who was faithful during your deployment(s), but you realize you can no longer connect with emotionally?

I don't have the answer, but if I know anything about money, it has caused almost as much stress in my life as having little money.

There is a scene in the HBO documentary "The Battle for Marjah", where some American officers go into a local's hut to apologize for killing one or two of his family members accidentally. They hand them large stacks of cash, but the camera doesn't lie. Nobody in that room thought for a second that throwing money at the situation made it any better.

F*ck I hate these wars.


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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Mon Feb 4, 2013, 11:55 PM

2. Pray the PTSD Away

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 12:12 AM

3. Good.

Out of all the ways to die, I think suicide is the worst. It's the worst because the person is not at a state of peace and it leaves family out of a state of peace for years go come.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 02:10 AM

4. Four and five tours of duty...no wonder. Now they want to train soldiers to basically be heartless

Just what we need. More heartless bastards in this country. Stupid war mongers want a forever war so they can keep killing the children of the poor and stealing the resources of other countries. . Their kids sure don't go. Stop the madness.

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Response to judesedit (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:52 AM

7. It is worse than that. There are no free resources coming our way.

I read a number foreign news sources in English, and a common line of thought is that we aren't trying to be "nice" by not looting resources, we are just the worst imperialists in history.

Destroy from air...invade....attempt to rebuild.....throw trillions of monopoly money at it....leave....anyone indigenous who helped us is killed.

It's ok though, because nothing can possibly go wrong with a bunch of mentally damaged 20 year old kids coming home who would be stigmatized if they came forward with their problem.

Makes me sick, sorry.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 04:32 AM

5. You could just stop the wars...

That might work.

Or make sure that we don't start wars that aren't truly necessary to our actual security and not just to attempt increase our power and posture in the world.

I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but I'd imagine that a sizable portion of the emotional pain I feel regarding the war in Iraq that I experienced is a result of me realizing that much of it was a fruitless endeavor. I sacrificed and gave everything I had to our country and I have nothing positive to show for it. I don't see how any of what I did made the world a better or more fair place.

I know I probably was drinking too much of the koolaid when I joined the Army, but I really thought that I was joining the Army to protect our country and to help make the world a better place. I saw what was going on in the Balkans and how our military was being used to help provide stability and to stop genocide there. I idolized the Special Forces whose motto is "de oppresso liber" (or liberator of the oppressed). I first joined in 1997 and I received an ROTC scholarship in 1998. When I graduated college in 2002, I owed the Army 4 years of active duty service. I never envisioned that I could have ended up in Iraq destroying lives,families, and communities in 2004. That is not what I signed up for. That is not what I was taught in my childhood what the Army was supposed to be about. We were supposed to have learned a serious lesson about war after Vietnam. It's obvious that we've learned the wrong one -"Unquestionable support for our Soldiers regardless of whether or not they are fighting a just war", not "don't fight wars that are just".

My positive intentions and desires to improve the world around me was manipulated and perverted by those at the very top. The energy and desires that I had to make the world a better and more fair place was instead directed at the opposite.

At least if I would have been fighting in a justified war or if I really did make Iraq a better place I could play the "zero sum" game. I could say to myself "sure I did some pretty shitty things in the war, but at least I turned Iraq into a burgeoning democracy and a shining example of what the middle east could look like. The children of Iraq will be able to grow up and enjoy prosperity and liberty on par with that of my own children". Instead I'm left having to accept the reality that I did some shitty things in the war, left Iraq a more broken country than it was under Sadam, and the children that I impacted will be left with horrifying memories of their families being murdered around them.

I really didn't intend this to turn into another one of my war rants. At some point I need to get over myself and move on, but I constantly find myself being drawn back to the war. It has been nearly 8 years since I've been in Iraq yet it is still constantly front and center in my mind.

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 05:17 AM

9. Thanks for sharing

Every single Branch called me repeatedly in '04. Note the avatar; I didn't go. Can't believe it's been over 8 years. Doesn't seem that long ago. I don't think you should be expected to "get over it".

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:19 AM

11. +1

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Response to Victor_c3 (Reply #5)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:21 AM

14. Thank your for your service, anyway.



Edit: and yeah, it's not new, and it's not you either.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 09:40 AM

12. Family life and relationships are continually strained or broken apart

with the pace of deployments in the last 10 years--you lose your emotional support system and you are stranded in a shithole for 6 months or a year, working 14 hour days with no breaks (my husband wasn't in a combat situation, but still went almost a month without a day off on his last deployment). This can wear down anybody, but then add the obvious stress of combat or PTSD...

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Tue Feb 5, 2013, 11:19 AM

13. What's that? You say morale sucks? How could that happen?

We treat our troops so well.

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