- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Recon Runner" contributed this observation the other day, in our discussion of how to think about the rising rates of suicide and indiscipline in the Army and Marines:
Garrison life is the pits. The difference is now we (combat vets) have seen the "other side/combat." Nothing pushes up urges to kill yourself like spending 10 hours of work/admin paperwork for every one you’re out at the range or training, or doing risk assessments to drive your car to a town that doesn’t suck for the weekend, having your car inspected, having your room inspected, asking your boss if its okay to go outside of the 60 mile radius for the weekend, sitting through your pre/post deployment health assessment, sitting through power point suicide prevention classes, "reunion" classes, etc. Nothing beats mass punishment too. You have to love being called in after a 90 hour work week on your weekend b/c someone else got a DUI.
Here’s the bottom line; nothing is going to get solved, but the Army/Marines will add another semi-annual requirement for some class/PowerPoint. What would really solve the problem are friends taking care of one another and leaders taking care of the soldiers/Marines. Like one of the other posters said though, you want to be involved with your subordinates but you need some time and space to maintain you own sanity. I’ve got over 36 months deployed; many other leaders have many more months and leaders need that space and those weekends/nights with their families.