Battleland

“Listen Up, General Pittard.”

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Army

I want to make a couple quick comments on the furor over Major General Dana Pittard’s blog post that soldiers who kill themselves are being selfish, and his exhortation that those thinking of suicide should just buck up and face their problems like an adult. “Suicide is an absolutely selfish act,” he wrote to his official blog recently (an entry since deleted). “I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess.”

First, I know Dana Pittard. He’s now the commanding general of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas. I served as a platoon leader in the cavalry troop he commanded in 1988 and I worked in his brigade’s AOR in Iraq in 2004. This is probably the first dumb thing he’s said or done in his career.

Dana can be a little stiff, but he’s an experienced combat leader who cares about individual soldiers and their families as much as he does the Army itself. Which is to say an enormous amount.

Second, I hope he and other military leaders will learn from this gaffe and begin to listen to PTSD survivors, especially those of us who have been suicidal, about what this injury does to us and about what it feels like. It isn’t something you can just get over like a high school break-up.

It is debilitating and insidious, working at every level of your consciousness; it changes the size of the brain and its function. Speaking up, asking for help, demands more moral courage than many brave men and women can muster.

This is principally because of a generalized sense throughout the Army that PTSD is a weakness rather than an injury or a wound. Comments like those Pittard made–I can only presume out of frustration rather than from an informed, thoughtful position–deepen this ignorance and weaken the resolve of soldiers who might need help. Listen up, General.

2 comments
caswellandcait.com
caswellandcait.com

Dear Major General Pittard,

I read your blog spot through this article and I promote my own thinking in this arena, because post traumatic stress is a rational position and should not be considered a disorder, because there are people who willing listen to each and every unidentifiable sound in an effort to follow their own survival to safety.

There are those among us who are so engrained in their own thinking about these matters that they would rather defend a position that was originally a "catch all" diagnosing category inside the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 3rd Edition.

This misnomer is still highly misunderstood, because the body remembers what the mind struggles to forget. And, this is a severely misrepresenting way for people who do not have full blown PTS to act out with behavior that includes all manner of indecent exposing of themselves such that so many different things that they may openly involve themselves in can only truly and rightfully be considered miscreant from inside the codified regions of the United States Army.

We are sincerely, Caswell, and Cait.

holtbri
holtbri

I agree with General Pittard on the selfishness part; who are you thinking about when you are contemplating suicide? I think suicide is the "pinnacle" of selfishness! If a person is consistently thinking "woe is me" that individual is on a slippery slope to a bad place! And he or she is not thinking about the impact that their decision will have on others around them (i.e. selfishness). As a result of my 21 years of military service, I can guarantee that the General has a lot of experience dealing with suicides, the people who commit suicide and the impact on those afterwards. Sad but true...

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