April 04, 2016
The men and women who protect American lives continue to take their own, as the crisis of military suicide shows no signs of slowing. For the seventh straight year, the number of service members who killed themselves topped 200, the Pentagon announced Friday in a grim report about the internal war our troops are fighting. A stunning 265 active-duty service men and women were casualties of the struggle that has taken an unprecedented number of our troops since 2008. The spike in suicides continues to worry administration officials, who fail to consider that many of their own policies may be to blame. Once again, the Army mourned the biggest losses, burying more than 120 soldiers whose personal struggles were ultimately too much to bear.
And while the administration insists it's committed to finding solutions to this epidemic, its five million dollar investment into the problem can't compete with one of the greatest weapons in the fight: faith. "Reducing suicide risk entails creating a climate that encourages service members to seek help," said a Pentagon spokesman. Unfortunately for too many of these troubled troops, the help most could use is the comfort of a God who is no longer welcome in much of military culture. For most troops, the last seven years have been an emotional roller coaster of budget cuts, low morale, LGBT indoctrination, overseas threats, and sexual politics. Stressed and stretched thin, most service members say they're fighting another foe: distrust and dissatisfaction. The only thing in shorter supply than funding is morale, as troops admit to the greatest burnout in recent memory.
Meanwhile, the one comfort our brave men and women used to have -- their faith -- is being wrenched from their hands and driven out of the service. By not just undermining -- but punishing -- the belief that most troops cling to in difficult times, the Obama administration may have taken away the military's greatest deterrent to suicide. Now, without the solace that faith provides, more service members have nowhere to turn. The crackdown has led people like the Coast Guard's Rear Admiral William Lee to question whether he should even point a 24-year-old to the meaning his life was missing. Lee told the story a couple of years ago that he felt strongly that he should give a soldier, who had tried and failed to commit suicide, a Bible. Under the current climate of hostility, he knew he could face consequences. "The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I'm crossing the line. I'm so glad I've crossed that line so many times."
It's time for the Pentagon to look at the big picture on military suicide and realize that driving out faith is more than unconstitutional -- it's depriving men and women dealing with the stress of military life from the help they need.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.