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Congressmen Want Condolence Letters for War Suicide Victims' Families (VIDEO)Salem-News.com
Burton-Kennedy Initiative Seeks To Honor All Military Families For Their Sacrifices.
(WASHINGTON D.C.) - CNN's Situation Room focused last night on the latest news surrounding the presidential condolence policy for suicide victims in the military.
Currently, President Obama does not send a letter of condolence to the families of servicemen or women who commit suicide. It is a carryover from the Presidential Administration of George W. Bush, who did not send the letters to families of suicide victims.
One Gold Star Mom who maintains a blog, Gold Star Mom Speaks Out said this about her letter of condolence from the former President, "my own condolence letter from Bush appears to have been signed by an auto-pen".
It is interesting that this matter, like many others, has only become important enough to talk about since Obama took office. Most of these voices of criticism were dead silent during the Bush years, even though in this case, it is Bush's own policy we are dealing with.
Congressmen Dan Burton (R-IN-05) and Patrick Kennedy (D-RI-01) are working to gather a large Congressional delegation to send a letter to President Obama and ask him to reverse the current policy, and equally honor the sacrifices of the families of servicemen and women who suffer from mental wounds or illnesses.
For months, the White House has said the policy is under review.
CNN's Elaine Quijano: Indiana Republican, Congressman Dan Burton, who has taken up the Keesling's cause, insists the absence of a presidential condolence letter does diminish the sacrifice and service of military suicide victims.
Rep. Dan Burton said, "Are they any less of an American who was fighting for us than the others? No. And so, I think it's extremely important that they and their families are recognized for their service to the country."
Rep. Burton says he began looking into this policy in August 2009, approximately two months after a constituent, Army Specialist Chancellor Keesling, committed suicide while serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.
He was buried with full military honors, but his parents, Gregg and Jannett Keesling, soon learned that the president would not send them a letter of condolence specifically because their son was a suicide victim.
Salem-News.com's Dr. Phillip Leveque has written at length about military suicide and its relationship to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. (see: PTSD Suicides: The Army Can't Explain? - Dr. Phillip Leveque Salem-News.com)
Combat troops subjected to daily trauma for a year at a time undergo changes based on their experiences, none of which are pleasant, and many nightmarish and terrible.
Leveque says there is no doubt in his mind that those who throw in the towel and commit suicide during war, or after war, are still victims of the war they fought in.
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