By Debbie Gregory.
Military personnel are highly reluctant to ask for help when they are depressed because they do not want to be seen as weak. But untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide, so those who are depressed and do not seek help are at risk for suicide. So what can be done?
To combat the problem of suicides by special operators, General Joseph Votel, Special Operations Command, is speaking bluntly about seeking help. Gen. Votel is urging his troops to follow suit
This can feel like a contradiction to the training they receive to push past their pain to reach a target on the battlefield. But the rate of special ops suicides, compared to other services, is a direct reflection of the strain these selfless heroes experience.
Gen. Votel spoke to several hundred current and former troops at a recent Washington conference. “I have, with my family, sought counseling and assistance,” he said. He also said that the stigma against seeking counseling is starting to change.
Votel has since ordered an update in training of how to spot the signs of stress, and with the Pentagon’s health affairs, a budget of $15 million this fiscal year is being dedicated to behavioral health resources for special operations. That, along with another $10 million in the special operations budget towards behavioral health and suicide prevention efforts, and another $1.2 million for the spiritual domain- which includes giving chaplains suicide intervention training and basil counseling training will help combat the stresses placed on soldiers.
What has arguably helped the most is embedding psychologists and other types of counselors available in special operations units and also borrowing the practice of using “military family life counselors” for operators and families alike.
It is really important to remember that being in the military is highly stressful, and those who serve are at high risk for PTSD, depression, and suicide.
Even one suicide is one too many.
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Military Connection: Top General Admits to Getting Counseling and Assistance: By Debbie Gregory