Army Suicide, Divorce, and Accident Rates Up
Some alarming news from UPI on the declining health and morale of our soldiers:
The acting secretary of the U.S. Army says he is seeing a troubling spike in key morale indicators among soldiers — suicide, divorces and accidents.
Acting Secretary Pete Geren told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday at his nomination hearing to become the civilian head of the Army that he discusses suicides and fatal accidents at a weekly meeting with senior military leaders. “Our Army leadership every week, in addition to everything they’re doing all week long, is alerted to those two indicators as well as the other indicators,” he said.
Geren said he tracks absent-without-leave rates, desertion rates, drug rates, criminal activity, and accidents. “We have seen most of those indicators hold steady. Three have not held steady and are troubling. Accidents have increased, as have suicides and have divorces,” he said.
An Army source said the numbers of fatal accidents, divorces and suicides is not significantly spiking, and at the end of the fiscal year is likely to not to appear to be an increase over pre-war levels. However, viewed in a short span of time, it is an increase and a real concern.
Geren also said the Army will be kicking off a service-wide educational program to teach soldiers how to identify symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. “We’re going to teach every leader in the Army how to spot some of the emotional stresses of PTSD and other mental disorders while they’re still in their infant stages,” Geren said. “They have got to know what’s going on mentally, emotionally and physically with their soldiers and they have got to be in a position to step up and meet the needs of those soldiers and not let a problem fester there. We’re working to try to make that frontline soldier a better judge of the needs of the people that he or she leads.”
It’s good that the Army’s top leaders are monitoring these trends and taking proactive steps to mitigate the damage.
It’s odd, though, that Geren and the “Army source” appear to be on a different sheet of music on this. Are the spikes mere statistical anomalies or are they a response to real increases in stress caused by the OPSTEMPO?