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Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering the Fallen

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.

1 comment:

Matt Dick said...

My father (U.S. Army Col.) once told me, "Never resist a generous impulse."

When someone kills themselves, we reflexively respond by telling the family how sorry we are for their loss.

A policy of not sending a note to these soldiers' families is forcing ourselves to resist a generous impulse.

I might extend this thinking by saying that trying to resist a generous impulse (when no harm can come to you by giving in to it) is a kind of evil.

inglarta