Saturday, March 18, 2017

OMG! Maj. General Pittard Credited for Suicide Prevention!

I do believe I have gone crazy or I am sleep reading. This cannot be true! A fabulous article on a General actually trying to do something about suicidal soldiers. All hopes dashed when I discovered the article was about Maj. General Dana Pittard! 

The General Who Went to War On Suicide

A commander with a history of depression created a unique way to keep his soldiers from killing themselves. The Army had other ideas.
March 17, 2017

On the evening of July 19, 2010, Major General Dana Pittard, the new commander of Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, got a call from the base’s 24-hour duty officer. A SWAT team had been sent to the house of a young sergeant named Robert Nichols. Nichols was inside with a gun, threatening to kill himself.

Pittard arrived at the soldier’s home just in time to see the soldier step out of the house, put the gun to his chest and fire. Neighbors and police crowded the street, but Pittard was the only officer from the Army base at the scene. He went home, where his boxes were still packed from his move 10 days before, feeling disturbed and helpless.

Nichols was the first of Pittard’s soldiers who died under his command at Fort Bliss. Others followed. A soldier from Fort Bliss’ 11th Air Defense Artillery brigade, which had recently returned from a tour in the Middle East, committed suicide. Another from the same brigade soon overdosed on prescription drugs.

The rash of deaths caught Pittard off guard. He knew that suicide was a growing concern for the military, which had spent millions of dollars to tackle the crisis and had issued dozens of reports—including a 350-page study that called suicides and deaths linked to high-risk behavior an “Army-wide problem.” But going in Pittard hadn’t planned to focus on the issue. That changed quickly. With suicides mounting at his base—a sprawling complex of 30,000 personnel, larger than Rhode Island—he realized he wanted to make stopping what he saw as preventable deaths a top priority.
Yep that guy!
Two years after that "first" suicide he was caught writing this while working out in the gym.

A General's Blog Post Undermines Army Suicide-Prevention Efforts

The Atlantic 
MAY 22, 2012

Maj. Gen. Dana Pittard commands Fort Bliss, one the nation's largest Army bases, so his blunt comments about suicide has raised eyebrows throughout the military.

"I have now come to the conclusion that suicide is an absolutely selfish act," he wrote on his official blog recently. "I am personally fed up with soldiers who are choosing to take their own lives so that others can clean up their mess. Be an adult, act like an adult, and deal with your real-life problems like the rest of us."

The posting was subsequently scrubbed from the Fort Bliss website, but the comments are adding new fuel to a contentious debate about whether the record numbers of troops who are taking their own lives are acting out of weakness and selfishness or because of legitimate cases of depression and other psychological traumas.
"Soldiers who are thinking about suicide can't do what the general says: They can't suck it up, they can't let it go, they can't just move on," said Barbara Van Dahlen, the founder of Give an Hour, an organization that matches troops with civilian mental-health providers. "They're not acting out of selfishness; they're acting because they believe they've become a burden to their loved ones and can only relieve that burden by taking their own lives."
read more here

I guess Politico didn't bother doing much of a Google search on him because this was on the second page of the search. 

Then again they could have searched Combat PTSD Wounded Times for even more reports like these.

New Records Show Injured Soldiers Describe Mistreatment Nationwide From Commanders at Army Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) North Carolina’s Fort Bragg records the most complaints, Texas not far behindNBCBy Scott FriedmanApr 7, 2015
New Army records uncovered by NBC 5 Investigates show injured soldiers have filed more than 1,100 complaints about mistreatment, abuse and lack of care from their commanders at more than two dozen Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) nationwide, many of those in Texas.
Those are just complaints made over five years to the U.S. Army ombudsman program, one of many places soldiers can complain.
Last fall, NBC 5 Investigates and The Dallas Morning News first revealed hundreds of complaints from ill and injured active duty soldiers in Texas.
Those Texas soldiers said WTU commanders harassed, belittled them and ordered them to do things that made their conditions worse at three Army posts in Texas: Fort Hood, Fort Bliss and Fort Sam Houston.

Major General Dana Pittard leaving after 3 officers committed suicide

Darren Hunt of KCIA News reported on Monday, All three suicides at Fort Bliss this year were officers
"The Pentagon says nearly 350 U.S. Military service members committed suicide last year.

Among those were five Army soldiers at Fort Bliss.

This year, three more suicides, all with something in common -- they were non-commissioned officers.

Sunday night on ABC-7 Xtra, Fort Bliss' outgoing commanding general confirmed the latest suicide happened just last week.
Anthony Fusco last Monday at his Northeast El Paso home -- a day after buying a gun at the PX -- has Pittard talking about refocusing the program.
But if the reporter cannot pay attention all along, the least effort that can be made is to actually get informed about what has been going on. After the fantastic reporting done by the Dallas Morning News series "Injured Soldiers Broken Promises" of the real facts of what our soldiers were going through after asking for help, it should have been important enough to pay attention to.

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