Jun 9, 2012

U.S. Suicide prevention represents departure from just two years ago

Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention
 (U.S. Army 2010)

In 2010, an idiotic report issued by the U.S. Army entitled, Health Promotion, Risk Reduction, and Suicide Prevention (HP/RR/SP), reprimands servicemembers and veterans' committing suicide as having engaged in "high risk" activity prompted by an "erosion of adherence to existing Army policies and standards" in a "key finding."

Reading the 2010 report, one wondered then: Can the brass of the U.S. Army and the authors of the report really be this dumb? Ahhh, yeah.

In two years, somebody got to these idiots.

By Michael Leon

In reaction the 2010 report, veterans' advocate, Steve Robinson—who has challenged the President and the Defense establishment face-to-face on their shameful neglect of the health problems, especially mental-health issues, faced by returning Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans—said in August 2010:
What does [Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter] Chiarelli not understand about combat? Soldiers engage in high-risk behavior on deployment. The [2010] report is written in such a way to blame the soldier, and not the leadership of the military for its part in not inculcating people so that they have resiliency and understand how to deal with stress; because there are not any real programs that train the force as a whole. Also, the leadership treats this problem as a lack of moral character, and a lack of intestinal fortitude, when it is really a medical issue. ... 'I had this conversation with a guy in the [Bush] White House, the liaison to the Department of Veterans Affairs. This was during the Bush Administration. He said, if we were to keep every promise that we made to the veterans, it would bankrupt us as a nation.'
News of another spike in suicide rates this week brings a completely different analysis and reaction from the DoD as the Pentagon appears to be focusing on halting military suicides by targeting stigmatization.

In a memo to military commanders in May, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said that “suicide prevention is a leadership responsibility,” and added, “Commanders and supervisors cannot tolerate any actions that belittle, haze, humiliate or ostracize any individual, especially those who require or are responsibly seeking professional services.” (NYT)

"[L]eaders throughout the chain of command must actively promote a constructive command climate that fosters cohesion and encourages individuals to reach out for help when needed," wrote Panetta. "The secretary wants to make it very clear to everybody in uniform and their families that there’s nothing stronger you can do for yourself and your family than to come forward and seek some help and seek the counseling that you need. And you’ll get it from the department." (Pellerin. DoD)

That's an improvement.

Next on the to-do list: Acknowledge that war is pretty fucking dumb.

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