Army Program Developes as Response to Increase in Soldier Suicides

An Army program developed partly as a response to an increase in soldier suicides will test all active duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers to determine how they handle stress, assess their resiliency and require follow-up training.

Data collected on drug use and dismissals from service have shown that some soldiers stressed by frequent combat deployments could use a hand in coping with the emotional toll, Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, chief of comprehensive soldier fitness, said Wednesday.

"Our younger people are having more trouble than anybody else," said Cornum, who is overseeing the new program , The Associated Press reports.

"How often do you feel that you lack friendship?" and "How often do you feel left out?" are among the 170 questions.

The effort "seeks to educate soldiers to overcome hardships and adverse events, bounce back, and grow stronger in the process," the Army said in a summary of the "comprehensive soldier fitness program."

The soldiers' answers in the test will remain confidential and will have no influence on their careers, said Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, who is overseeing the program , AFP reports.

However, in an interview, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, said the $117 million program was an effort to transform a military culture that has generally considered talk of emotions to be so much hand-holding, a sign of weakness.

“I’m still not sure that our culture is ready to accept this,” General Casey said. “That’s what I worry about most.” , New York Times reports.

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