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Dec-17-2009 20:24printcommentsVideo

Congressmen Want Condolence Letters for War Suicide Victims' Families (VIDEO)

Burton-Kennedy Initiative Seeks To Honor All Military Families For Their Sacrifices.

War dead
War dead
Is there really any difference?

(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.

Excerpt

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.

CNN Covers Presidential Condolence Letter Policy

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."

Background

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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Anonymous December 19, 2009 1:01 pm (Pacific time)

The “afterlife” of combat includes divorce and despair, substance abuse and spousal abuse, joblessness and homelessness — and, in extreme cases, suicide. Why don’t you reader’s look up how Israel and other countries (except the USA) are using cannabis boiled oil as a remedy for PTSD war vets with suicidal impulses. Go ahead, do a Google search and see if you can find the articles that tell of the Israeli study and how they boil marijuana in vegetable oil. They strain it, and bottle it like cough syrup. The soldiers take it by tablespoons – it tastes rank – and there’s no smoking. This method worked so well that other countries (not the USA) use this method for shattered war vets. Bosnia, Canada, New Zealand, England, France, Holland, Germany……even a country or two in Africa, I recall. Suicide now is listed as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Army recorded a record high suicide rate this year. And the Department of Veterans Affairs estimates there are 6,400 veteran suicides annually. Divide 6,400 suicides by 52 week and you get 123 veteran suicides per week. About 18 per day. You have read the statistics in Time Magazine as 147 GIs this year, but they are all on active duty, still in the service. There is much terrorism and war in the world now; and it’s all over the globe. In America alone the suicide level has reached (as of 2005) over 100 discharged soldiers a week. That’s right, over 100 vets kill themselves EACH WEEK here at home, and we refuse to use the known technique discovered by the Israelis. A cheap, easily available, efficacious remedy is at hand, yet we in Puritanical America refuse to use it. Our politics are too 19th century. And after all, these soldiers made a tremendous sacrifice then, and now, so that we could have $3.00 gasoline and some revenge for the 9/11 bombings. They’re dropping like flies here at home, months after discharge. We used them up and now they are just a cheap, throw-away commodity. It seems high, 7,000 suicide deaths per year for civilian Mid-East War vets. But the national number for suicides is 33,000 per year in America. It's easy to ignore, but it really is an epidemic here in the USA, and our war veterans are taking the brunt of it. What gets me is that there is an easy fix, a cheap, easily manufactured cure, and they won't use it ! Spread the word: Please call 1-800-273-TALK and press 1 to be routed to the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline. Ask why, readers and soldiers, ask your elected officials ‘WHY’ ??? Support Medical Cannabis Access Support Leap.cc – Police Against Prohibition Support MPP.org – MJ Lobby in Wash, DC


Osotan; December 18, 2009 8:18 pm (Pacific time)

the puppets haven't got a fu#*ing clue and present situation same as past situation. They can't uphold their own twisted version of heroism so the lessening.,non-acknowledgment of these sacrifices takes the heat off their own self-serving destruction. "One, two, three, what are we dying for"?,don't ask them they don't give a damn.,next stop Afghanistan.,and don't let them forget., there's always Iran.,no time to wonder why.,just send some more off to die" Put on a flak jacket Obama.,my guess is you'd you'd leave it to someone else as long as your the president now., I'm ashamed to admit I believed what you said to obtain your present level of employment. These people are dying because of your continuing lies., I hope you sleep with nightmares as long as you perpetuate them.


Vic December 18, 2009 4:49 pm (Pacific time)

Well put, Jeffrey !


Vic December 18, 2009 4:48 pm (Pacific time)

I was shocked to hear this...!!!! How cold-hearted !!!


Jeffrey K - December 18, 2009 4:32 pm (Pacific time)

Those combatants and veterans who die by their own hand are just as gone, just as sorely missed, and no less forgotten by their friends and family - their loved ones who might gain some small scrap of solace our President could provide, with a simple letter of gratitude to the bereaved - for having given their most cherished gift: their son or daughter, mother or father, husband or wife. How unfeeling, callous and hurtful, to deprive the families of these brave men and women who paid the ultimate price, the hardest sacrifice - in pain indescribable here, with no way out, no way clear, but to take their own life. I am saddened and angered, disgusted even, that President Obama would continue this unconscionable practice (begun by his combat-avoiding, pampered predecessor) of depriving the next of kin of soldiers who suffered mightily within, before giving in, and hoping against hope for something better beyond, of this small but meaningful token of recognition. Once again, I must repeat this wearying refrain: "Come on Mr. Obama, we voted for change! Not this pathetic, revolting "more of the same".

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