Saturday, January 3, 2009


Jason Leopold, Pub Record - The U.S. Army's suicide prevention manual advises military chaplains to promote "religiosity," specifically Christianity, as a way to deter distraught soldiers from taking their own lives, according to an amended federal lawsuit filed last week against Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Department of Defense.

The 2008 Army Suicide Prevention Manual says "Chaplains. . . need to openly advocate behavioral health as a resource" to treat suicidal soldiers and instructs behavioral health providers "to openly advocate spirituality and religiosity as resiliency factors."

"Spirituality looks outside of oneself for meaning and provides resiliency for failures in life experiences. Religiosity adds the dimension of a supportive community to help one deal with crises. Both embed themselves in a relationship with God, or a higher power, that provides an everlasting relationship. Bottom line, Soldiers should not base their reason for living in another human being!" says a slide included in the Army's "Suicide Awareness for Soldiers 2008" Power Point presentation.

According to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the watchdog group that is a co-plaintiff in the federal lawsuit filed against Gates and the Defense Department, the Power Point presentation "is not only an unconstitutional promotion of Christianity for the soldiers who are mandated to attend it, but for the behavioral health providers and non-Christian chaplains who must present it.". . .

Slides two through four state: "Connectivity to the Divine is fundamental to developing resiliency that allows one to deal with disappointments," "Emphasize the importance of spiritual health, connectivity with a faith community, and a relationship with God," and, for a slide that follows a DVD of former football star Terry Bradshaw talking about his battle with depression, "Terry is very open about his faith in God and his relationship with his church. Spirituality is an invaluable ingredient in his battle with this disease.". . .

Last year, in a stunning admission, top officials at the Veterans Health Administration confirmed that the agency's own statistics show that an average of 126 veterans per week -- 6,552 veterans per year -- commit suicide, according to an internal email distributed to several VA officials.


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