President Barack Obama announced his decision Wednesday to begin sending letters of condolence not only to the families of service men and women who are killed in war zones, but to those who commit suicide while deployed in war zones.
The following is a statement from the President about this change:
“As Commander in Chief, I am deeply grateful for the service of all our men and women in uniform, and grieve for the loss of those who suffer from the wounds of war – seen and unseen.В Since taking office, IвЂ™ve been committed to removing the stigma associated with the unseen wounds of war, which is why IвЂ™ve worked to expand our mental health budgets, and ensure that all our men and women in uniform receive the care they need.
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. This decision was made after a difficult and exhaustive review of the former policy, and I did not make it lightly.
This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely.В They didnвЂ™t die because they were weak.В And the fact that they didnвЂ™t get the help they needed must change.В Our men and women in uniform have borne the incredible burden of our wars, and we need to do everything in our power to honor their service, and to help them stay strong for themselves, for their families and for our nation.”