Rash of Suicides among Houston Army Recruiters

Army to stop recruiting for one day to remember them.

An Army investigation into a string of suicides among Houston-based recruiters has found that poor leadership, job-related stress, personal matters and medical problems all contributed to the deaths.

As a result of the findings released Wednesday, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren ordered a rare one-day stand-down next month of all Army recruiting efforts in order to focus on leadership training, suicide prevention and recruiter wellness.

“This is a significant action,” said Brig. Gen. Dell Turner, who conducted the investigation. “It’s rarely implemented, and typically only after some significant event. It’s a day for the unit to stop what it’s doing on the mission side and review policies and practices.”

In addition to the stand-down, the Army’s Inspector General will lead an assessment of working conditions throughout the nation’s 38 recruiting battalions.

The Army is also reviewing recruiter screening and selection processes, Army-wide suicide prevention training, and access to mental health care, especially for soldierswho, like many recruiters, work in areas far from the resources of a military base.

Turner said his investigation found evidence of a poor command climate inside the Houston battalion, which has lost four recruiters to suicide since 2005, including two who hanged themselves within weeks of each other last year. All four had served in Iraq or Afghanistan before being reassigned to recruiting duty, a job considered one of the most stressful in the Army, especially in wartime.

What is exposed here is really the tip of the iceberg. Recruiters are subjected to high pressure, like car salesmen. To get their quota they are pressured to apply pressure to would be recruits. As a result, the most common complaint heard by chaplains is, “My recruiter lied to me.”

Advice from experienced military personnel is always the same: anyone thinking about joining the military better not take any promise made by a recruiter at face value. Get it in writing.

2 thoughts on “Rash of Suicides among Houston Army Recruiters

  1. The problem is that the US military isn’t taking its soldiers’ mental health seriously enough. In fact, a case came to light last year where a VA encouraged psychologists to avoid diagnosing soldiers with PTSD to avoid paying benefits.

    If you want to check my sources, I got that from newsy.com and they got it from MSNBC.

    • And I think I may have linked to that at the time. Now, when I was an Army chaplain, we had substantial training in suicide prevention, especially when I was at Walter Reed. But that was 20+ years ago. And the VA situation has always been atrocious. We deserve much better.

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