For any member of the service who loses his or her life on active duty, the traditional 21-gun salute is used to honor their sacrifice. And for most, the president sends a letter to the family of the fallen soldier to recognize their loss.
However, if a soldier kills him or herself, that letter never comes.
According to the administration, this policy, inherited from the Clinton era, is under review.
The way a soldier dies does not at all detract from the time they spent serving their country. In some cases, soldiers may kill themselves after multiple tours of duty. It seems ridiculous to consider the value of their sacrifice lowered because of one’s decision to end their own life.
It should also be noted that the letters sent home are not for the dead. They are for the families left trying to understand the tragic circumstances.
By not sending condolence letters, President Obama, our commander in chief, is basically telling those families that their child’s service was not as valuable as that of any other soldier. During a soldier’s deployment, families also make a sacrifice, and one that should be recognized.
These letters shouldn’t be considered a reward for the family of a soldier who died honorably. They should be considered an honor to anyone who has made a sacrifice for the country.
The issue also calls attention to another major problem within the military.
The inquiries about letters from the president after a suicide should also make the administration realize that post traumatic stress disorder in war time is an increasingly prevalent concern.
The letters sent home to the families of people who have died by their own hands don’t have to be the same as the ones sent to the families of soldiers who have died in combat. Obviously, President Obama has the right to decide what he writes to the families.
But regardless of its content, the families should get some sort of closure after such a terrible ordeal.