Mental Health, Stigma, and the Military

This post is about the stigma in the military of seeking any kind of mental health help. Just over five years ago when I was still active duty and the years prior it was always pushed that if we felt that we needed help to seek it… and it wouldn’t be frowned upon. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. The higher ups want to believe that isn’t the case, but those in the ranks see and hear things. Especially if it is reported back to the service member’s respective command that they are seeking help. Now I realize that for certain instances (suicidal or homicidal thoughts) it is a must if they carry a firearm. But that just opens more doors for that person to be talked about. That service member will be downloaded (which raises suspicion), could be removed from their duty section which only causes more questions.

Everyone always says never to believe the rumor mill but if you are struggling already, more than likely you are going to take what is said (even if you know that it’s not true) and enlarge those rumors in your mind… only confounding the issue. These rumors were started because you wanted to fix something that you knew was wrong which has now blown up in your face.

Something needs to be done to change this. People won’t get the help they need if they know this is the outcome. Most if not all know this is what will happen because they have seen it with other people at their same commands or other commands.

Unfortunately this change isn’t going to come from the brass at the Pentagon or the commanders of the installations. It is going to start with the E-7s and below to quell the rumors and stop them before they even start. Instead of rumors, people should be asking each other what they can do for each other. Be true shipmates/brothers and sisters in arms by holding people up instead of dragging them through the mud.

I know that it is human nature to gossip, but it helps to consider if you would want what you’re about to say, to be said about you. If you can answer yes to that question (HONESTLY) then by all means open your mouth and speak. If not? Then keep your mouth closed and either move on or change the topic.

Be that ONE person that isn’t talking about so and so and whatever they might have done to get downloaded or anything else that might be going on. It simply goes back to the old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes… if you haven’t then you have no right to speak badly about them.

By the lower men and women on totem pole making these changes… maybe, just maybe we can keep more of our military and subsequently veterans from feeling like they can not ask for help and then proceeding to taking their own life and/or the lives of others.

It is a needless and senseless tragedy that could easily be adverted if EVERYONE in the lower ranks of the military simply held each other up instead of tearing each other down to get ahead.

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