Current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan challenge everyone, including the best and most resilient warriors. As recognized by the Department of the Navy, “preserving the psychological health of Service members and their families is as much a war-fighting issue as it is a sacred duty and it is of paramount concern to mission readiness.”1 Yet the rising number of psychological health issues, traumatic brain injuries, and suicides continues to concern and perplex leaders and threaten readiness.
It is common to hear leaders voice feelings of bewilderment and frustration regarding suicide. For despite constant briefings on prevention, suicides persist. Often they are viewed as an enigma—something that “just happens,” both to those who have deployed and to those who have not. Consequently, many leaders are left with feelings of anxiety and uncertainty that a suicide may occur on their watch—despite all they have done to prevent it—knowing that if it does they must somehow weather the storm and hope for the best.2