In a statement released yesterday, President Obama said he has “been committed to removing the stigma associated with the unseen wounds of war.”
As a next step, and in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the military chain of command, Obama 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,” Obama stated. “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. 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.”
U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, was part of a small group of bipartisan senators in asking for this policy change.
“This policy change is the right decision for too many families in Montana and across the country suffering from grief and the pain of unanswered questions,” Tester said. “It will help families and entire communities heal as our nation comes to terms with the wounds of war–both physical and emotional.”