The White House Wednesday formally announced the new policy to send condolence letters to some soldiers who go to war and commit suicide, but not others. The White House says only those soldiers actually deployed when they commit suicide will get condolence letters. That excludes the majority of suicides that are much more likely to occur after troops return home.
The White House released a statement Wednesday saying the president “consulted” with the Secretary of Defense and military leaders. “Since taking office, I’ve been committed to removing the stigma associated with the unseen wounds of war, which is why I’ve worked to expand our mental health budgets, and ensure that all our men and women in uniform receive the care they need,” the president said. “This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change.”
“As a next step and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the military chain of command, I have also decided to reverse a long-standing policy of not sending condolence letters to the families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to a combat zone,” President Obama said.