In particular, a lengthy report released by the US Army on July 29th, 2010 at the Pentagon not only acknowledges the rise of active soldier suicides, but also shows that some of the deaths may have been preventable if improved background checks and behavior analyses had been implemented on a more critical level.
To be specific, the report indicates that commanders who either failed to recognize or disregarded high-risk behavior among their troops are largely to blame. Additionally, the report states that the string of constant deployments in two wars had forced a lowering of “recruiting and retention standards” amongst military employees/recruiters in more recent times. In fact, the report states that many new recruits were granted special waivers, allowing them to bypass stricter behavioral standards used during earlier times.
Of 80,403 waivers granted since 2004, the report found that 47,478 were granted to people with a history of drug or alcohol abuse, misdemeanor crime or “serious misconduct,” which it defined as felony.
In addition, the report also states that the stress of repeated deployments over nearly a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan may have also played a pivotal role in driving the Army suicide rate above the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War.
However, the report does indicate that 79% of soldiers who committed suicide had only seen one deployment or had not deployed at all. Additionally, General Chiarelli of the US Army stated in a press conference that 60% of all military suicides occur within the first four years and/or their first enlistment, with the majority of that total occurring within the first year.
As far as solutions to the issue go, the report recommended tightened enlistment standards, expanded mental health screening, a confidential alcohol treatment program and better coordination between primary care physicians and mental health counselors.
Information provided by The New York Times and the Army Health Promotion Risk Reduction & Suicide Prevention Report 2010
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