Reflecting on those who died while serving our country in uniform reminded me of something I saw on CNN about President Obama considering a change in policy for those who killed themselves. Apparently, it has been the policy for some time for the President to not send condolence letter to the family of those who service members who kill themselves. Then I found this opinion piece. The author concludes, “I think by changing the policy, President Obama would send a powerful message that we cannot tolerate what is happening to our troops.”
First, a condolence letter is not an honor. It isn’t a posthumous award for valor. It is an expression of compassion to those who have lost a family member. Is the loss suffered by the family members of those who kill themselves less than that of those who are killed in a car accident or an IED?
Second, do we seriously believe that suicides are an unpredictable result of sending young men and women off to kill people? Is a soldier exposed to the horrors of war, and dies as a result of PTSD less a combat casualty than my dad who was exposed to agent orange and died of cancer?
This policy needs to be changed.