"It's not a sign of weakness to recognize that you
need help," said Navy Lt. Michael Kim, a staff
Psychiatrist with the Expeditionary Medical Facility,
Kuwait. "When you recognize you are
struggling and seek help - now that is a sign
of true strength."
Since the attacks of Sept. 11 and the start
of the war on terrorism, the deployment
tempo for military members has been
extremely high. Many servicemembers
are on their sixth deployment. With an
increased tempo comes higher stress
placed on the individual. In the
Army alone, at least 128 soldiers
commited suicide in 2008, with
investigations continuing into 15
additional possible suicides, according
to Army officials. The 2008
Army suicide rate was significantly
higher than the 115 in 2007 and 102
in 2006. It's also the highest since
record keeping began in 1980. The
rate translates to 20.2 per 100,000
soldiers, higher than the adjusted civilian
suicide rate.
With the 2009 suicide rate expected
to be the highest yet, the military's senior
leadership is extremely concerned with
how to combat this growing issue.
It's now time for every servicemember
to ask, "What can we
do to help'"
"The bottom line is
that we
need to get over this stigma in the military that asking
for help is somehow displaying a lack of toughness,"
said Kim. "A lot of the initial military training teaches
us not to show any signs of a mental or emotional
struggle, and to never quit. However, that mindset
can be very counter-productive when you are hurting
inside and need someone to talk to."
Camp Arifjan's behavioral health clinic, located at
the Troop Medical Center, is well-equipped to handle
the problems servicemembers face, with two psychiatrists,
a psychologist, and three behavioral health
technicians on duty.
"We offer many classes for anything from depression,
to anger management, to substance abuse programs,"
said Petty Officer 2nd Class John Siegert, a
behavioral health technician with the Expeditionary
Medical Facility, Kuwait. "Most of the issues we
see servicemembers dealing with here are over the
loss of a loved one, problems with a spouse, financial
problems, or even dealing with the stress of combat."
One of the tools offered at the behavioral health
clinic here is the Outpatient
Cognitive Intervention
Program, better known
as OCIP. The goal with
the class is to promote
retention and prevent
the unexpected loss of
a servicemember that
often follows a