Army completes recruiter suicide investigation
January 22, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 21, 2008) -- The Army has concluded a two-and-a-half-month investigation into the suicides of four Soldiers assigned to the Houston Recruiting Battalion.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin C. Freakley, commander, U.S. Army Accessions Command, directed Brig. Gen. Frank D. Turner III, deputy commanding general and chief of staff for the U.S. Army Accessions Command, to investigate the unit that experienced the four suicides that occurred between January 2005 and September 2008.
"Each of these deaths is an absolute tragedy and our sympathies and prayers go out to their families and friends, as well as their fellow brothers and sisters with whom they served so honorably," said Freakley. "Every leader, every Soldier, at every level of our Army, must help our institution reduce the stigma associated with seeking mental health care and raise the level of awareness of suicide risk factors. Neither our nation nor our Army can accept another needless loss of life."
The investigation concluded that there was no single cause for these deaths. Relevant factors included the command climate, stress, personal matters, and medical problems. None were diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD.
As a result of the findings, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren directed a U.S. Army Recruting Command-wide "stand down" day focused on leadership training, suicide prevention / resiliency training and recruiter wellness. Additionally, the commanding general of Army Accessions Command has requested that the Army's Inspector General lead an external assessment of the command climate across the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, to which the Houston Recruiting Battalion belongs.
The Army is also reviewing recruiter screening and selection processes, the provisions of care for Soldiers who need mental health care, Army-wide suicide prevention training, and access to care and peer support networks for geographically dispersed Soldiers. It will review the current policy that allows Soldiers to waive their mandatory 90 days of stabilization after returning from deployment to ensure any personal or professional concerns are addressed prior to the recently redeployed Soldier moving into new and different work environments.
The Army will continue to focus its efforts on helping Soldiers get the assistance they need wherever they serve, officials said.