Sunday, June 5, 2011

Even in Suicide, Soldiers' Families Deserve Condolences From President

Leif was no longer in uniform, no longer on active duty in the army when he took his life. He was medically retired, but he felt close to his brothers in arms, cared deeply about them, and identified with them. He kept his uniforms, boots and dog tags. They continued to have meaning. He often talked and commented about policies that impacted soldiers' lives, and was against their lives being lost in what he felt were needless wars that counted their lives of too little value, no matter how much lip service was paid to our "heroes."

He would have been incensed to know that soldiers who died of suicide to not receive condolences from the President, as those who die in other ways do. He would have supported Gregg Keesling's efforts to make this happen. Read the article by clicking on the title, "
Even in Suicide, Soldiers' Families Deserve Condolences From the President."

Mike Purcell talks about this in a Military Times, Outside the Wire Article titled, "Are Suicides Considered Less Honorable?" (Click the title to read it.) He says, and it is so true, as you will learn if you read the stories of those soldiers who took their lives . . . they were good soldiers and served their country well:

“This Memorial Day please remember those we have lost on ‘the other battlefield,’” Purcell writes. “Their service mattered greatly, as did they. Their families deserve to be recognized with dignity and respect, in their time of profound loss.”

It's now past Memorial Day, but we should remember still.

Purcell is also behind the Putting a Face on Suicide project, a Facebook page with a broader mission to literally show the faces of those who have died by their own hand, whether military (there is a special Wall for them) or not. It isn't possible to visit that page without being affected by all the smiling faces of those who felt life was not worth living and the pain of those left behind.

The photo is one taken of Leif by an unknown fellow soldier. I found it in an envelope of photos he had.

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