Mental Health America Calls On President to Reverse Policy of Not Sending Condolence Letters to Families Of Soldiers Who Complete Suicide
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Contact: Steve Vetzner, (703) 797-2588 or firstname.lastname@example.org
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (January 11, 2010)-Mental Health America is calling on President Obama to reverse a long-standing, unwritten policy of not sending Presidential letters of condolence to the families of service members who have completed suicide.
A resolution adopted by Mental Health America's Board of Directors states that a condolence letter can help eliminate the stigma and shame associated with suicide and provide emotional support to families.
"The lack of acknowledgment and condolence from the President can leave these families with an emotional vacuum and a feeling that somehow their sacrifices may not have been as great as others who died while in the military," the resolution states.
Mental Health America is also circulating an online petition through its Facebook page (http://apps.facebook.com/causes/petitions/374 or http://www.change.org/actions/view/a_letter_for_every_life_lost).
"Our nation face a critical challenge as we welcome our troops back from war," the petition state. "After bravely risking their lives for our country, these heroes and their families often return to strained relationships, depression and even Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Our response as a grateful nation is critical, and there is a near epidemic of suicides among our Armed Forces."
Last month, in an effort initiated by Reps. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) and Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), 46 House members sent a letter to the President asking him to reverse the policy.
"By overturning this policy on letters of condolence to the families of suicide victims, you can send a strong signal that you will not tolerate a culture in our armed forces that discriminates against those with a mental illness," the lawmakers wrote.
Mental Health America and the House members also noted that current military funeral procedure treats both suicide and death in combat the same.
President Obama asked for a review of the policy several weeks ago. The White House said last month that is expects the review to be completed soon.
Mental Health America is the country's leading nonprofit dedicated to helping all people live mentally healthier lives. With our century of service to America and our more than 300 affiliates nationwide, we represent a national movement that promotes mental wellness for the health and well-being of the nation- everyday and in times of crisis.