Presidential Condolences Deserve To Be Given

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

President Obama has reversed a long-standing policy of not sending condolence letters to families of service members who commit suicide while deployed to a combat zone.

The policy needed reversing. Condolence letters should be sent.

“This decision was made after a difficult and exhaustive review of the former policy, and I did not make it lightly,” President Obama explained. “This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn't die because they were weak. And the fact that they didn't get the help they needed must change.”

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This crucial message transcends the military and ripples deeply into civilian life, where too many people also refuse to seek help for mental and emotional distress, for illnesses that affect the mind, because of the stigma too many people wrongly attach to doing so.

There are unseen wounds in war.

Just as there are unseen wounds in life.

If society creates and sustains an environment that places obstacles on the pathway to mental health and healing we do nothing more than create minefields, scattering roadside bombs, sidewalk-side bombs, and living room-side bombs all around us. Perhaps within our own families.

We must not become another, unintentional, enemy to be faced by our brave men and women serving us in combat overseas.

President Obama has done the right thing.

So must we all.