Sunday, September 22, 2013

Military Suicides:Does Faith Make A Difference?

PTSD is a wound to the soul but there has been more damage done to the troops than any enemy could have asked for. It happened when the military took a program designed for school children and assaulted the troops with it. There is an obvious disconnect between what the military intended and what the result has been but they have failed to make the connection. When, as the following article points out, suicides have gone up even though there are so many programs with resilience being taught, it is part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Does Faith Make A Difference?
Huffington Post
Chaplain Mark R. Johnston
Editor, 'The Military Bible' and 'The Manual for Spiritual Fitness
Posted: 09/19/2013

Suicide rates in the Army continue to challenge all who serve our great Nation. Last year's record breaking numbers point to the disturbing dilemma that continues to this hour. This is disturbing because there is no institution in the world that does more in the effort to prevent suicide than the US Military. With multiple agencies, programs and events, suicide prevention remains a top priority within leadership in every branch of the Military. Excellent programs such as Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) and Ask, Care Escort (ACE) Training touches every serving Soldier and is made available for families and DA Civilians. Chaplains, Chaplain Assistants and other health-care professionals are continuously engaged in an effort to educate, prevent and intervene with those who are struggling with suicidal ideation.

However, controversy follows the various efforts to understand and prevent the incalculable loss of human life through suicide. The debate over causes and effects leading to suicide, such as the belief that the contributing stress of combat and deployment as a contributing factor to the sharp rise in Military suicides, has been recently challenged by the Pentagon. Instead, mental illness seems to be a leading indicator of the cause-effect pattern in suicidal behaviors amongst Military personnel. Counterarguments against the Pentagon's recently released study is sure to revive the intuitive belief that war remains a contributing factor in the depression and despair afflicting many who have been exposed to the horrors of combat and killing.
As an Army Chaplain this does not surprise me. Indeed, there are innumerable instances where Soldiers and family members have sought out religious counsel in times of incredible stress and darkness, finding relief from anxiety, purposelessness and despair to offset suicidal ideation. This has been the driving force behind "spiritual fitness" that comprises one of the five resiliency pillars in the Army's Comprehensive Resiliency Program. This is the rationale behind the National Bible Association's Military Bible and Spiritual Fitness Manual as well as the First Responder's Bible and Spiritual Fitness Manual which attempt to reinforce spiritual resiliency through narrative and teaching. These are but two examples that promote a spiritual resiliency that survives human trauma. The Bible offers numerous stories and tips on becoming spiritually resilient and suicide resistant.
read more here
I left this comment
You have just pointed out the biggest problem with suicides and that is "resilience training" but you missed the point. With so much being done, and for as long as the DOD has been doing it, when will leaders notice this does not work? When so much is being done yet so much suffering spreads, that means it needed to end many years ago.

We've seen higher suicides and attempted suicides since this mental programming began because what the troops hear is that they didn't train right and did not become stronger mentally so it is their fault. They tell me this all the time after attempted suicides and they suffer because they do not hear what they need to know.
They need to be reminded of why they were willing to risk their lives and that was for the sake of someone else. They need to be reminded that there was nothing evil in that desire to help. That politicians deciding to start wars had nothing to do with them, so they did not waste their lives because their purpose was each other's welfare.

Religion has nothing to do with this if they have the wrong idea of what love it, forgiveness is and what redemption truly means. To know that they were already mentally tough and resilient to have been willing to go through training in the first place and still be willing to put their lives on the line.

They need to know that all came from love, compassion and the courage within them to do whatever it took to save as many lives as they could.

They need to know that God was there whenever they were able to grieve, to weep, to put our an arm of comfort, say a prayer or shed a tear. That God did not turn His back on them or allow it all to happen out of revenge or punishment but had to stay out of it because He does not mess around with the freewill of humans.

They need to stop hearing stupid shit like "God only gives us what we can handle" that has to be one of the most stupid things I have ever heard in my life because that is telling someone God did it to them. They need to know that everything they need to heal has been built into their souls before those souls showed up on this earth with the tug of what they were intended to do with their lives.

They need to be reminded of so many things but they can't hear them with the noise from the DOD training telling them they should have trained better. That their buddy was selfish for taking his own life. That their own attempts to commit suicide were more a matter of "personality disorders" than being subjected to the wars they were sent to fight after they passed the mental health exams they took to get in in the first place.

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