In reversal, families of military suicides will receive White House condolence letters [UPDATED]



The Internets are already reacting to President Obama’s decision to send condolence letters to the families of military suicides.

Putting a Face on Suicide is questioning the policy’s exclusion of stateside training deaths. “And what is a ”State[side]Training Death”?, our troops don’t die by suicide in war zones, the vast majority do so upon their return,” writes founder Mike Purcell.

The reliably conservative This Aint Hell, calls it a “bandaid to make voters feel better about voting for the President. If they really wanted to do something about it, the White House would do something about preventing suicides in the first place.”

CNN reports the move came after a group of senators — 10 Democrats and one Republican — asked President Barack Obama to change what they called an “insensitive” policy that dates back several administrations and has been the subject of protest by some military families.

Gregg Keesling, since the suicide of his 25-year-old son, Army Spc. Chance Keesling, in Iraq, and his wife Jannett, have fought to receive a condolence letter. They’ve written to the president, and asked their local congressmen for help, CBS News reports. They were told that although they would not get a letter–the policy takes effecr this week–they would get some kind of recognition at the White House.

“He was a good soldier and that”s the part that I want to know — that the country appreciates that he fought he did everything that he was asked to do,” Keesling said of his son in the CBS interview. “It didn”t turn out well for him, but at least this country could write a simple letter and that president represents our country and just say thank you for our son”s service.”

[UPDATE] Top general lauds Obama’s decision in White House blog

Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s No. 2 general and it’s top proponent for addressing suicide in the military, said in a post to the White House blog that he commended Obama’s decision. Chiarelli makes it personal, second-guessing his own decision not to include a suicide on a memorial at Fort Hood.

Chiarelli speaks of American troops as “tired” after a long war, struggling with PTSD and hindered by the stigma associated with “invisible wounds.”The president’s decision, he said, is a “a monumental step in this direction.”

“It acknowledges that the service rendered by these individuals, as well as the service and sacrifices made by their family, deserve the same recognition given to those men and women who die as a result of enemy action.  Since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan nearly a decade ago, over 6,000 men and women have paid the ultimate price for freedom.  Every day we have honored those fallen in combat… now, in accordance with our Commander-in-Chief, we will honor all those who have fallen in service to our great Nation.”



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