G-1, Human Resources Policy Directorate
Supporting Soldiers, Families & Civilians – Active, Guard, Reserve and Retired
3 September 2008
As this unit’s commander, you are surprised to find yourself thinking about suicide. Your mission has been brutal on you and your Soldiers. You have lost a number of Soldiers. The demands on you are incredible, and you cannot seem to obtain adequate rest. You find yourself easily distracted. You have lost about 20 pounds over the past 3 months. You have concerns that your wife is not being faithful, and you miss your children. On top of all this, your First Sergeant informs you that the SPC is probably suicidal and almost certainly depressed. What is your course of action? (Let your first sergeant handle the suicidal specialist. He/she is more than capable. You must also take care of yourself. Consultation with a mental health provider is likely to prove useful. If you are reluctant to seek assistance, what will your Soldiers feel about seeking assistance? If you are worried that your Soldiers will learn of your consultation, don’t worry. You are setting a healthy example for them, and you are helping demystify and de-stigmatize mental health services. Overall, you and your unit will be better off if you take the time to take care of yourself.)
How do you, as the unit Commander, “keep your hand on the pulse” of your unit’s psychological health? (Socrates was a wise man indeed. First, know yourself. Do you feel uncomfortable talking about mental health issues either because you feel untrained or because you find such discussions meaningless or because such discussions raise your own level of anxiety? You must know your Soldiers. You must have an NCO staff that freely communicates both up and down the chain-of-command. You must provide an atmosphere in which Soldiers feel free to discuss any of their problems without fear of retribution, embarrassment, or punishment. You must give as much attention to the mental health of Soldiers as you do to their physical health. Your Soldiers must feel they can trust you to protect them physically AND psychologically.)
How does one, as in this case, sever ties with a unit member who is going to be medically boarded in such a way as to maintain unit morale while also contributing to the psychological health of the separated soldier? Is this even possible? Is it even desirable? (No right or wrong answers. For discussion).
The Soldier appears to be withdrawing socially. He has asked his girlfriend not to visit, and he has requested that staff not permit you to visit him. How should you respond? (Discuss this concern with the treating mental health specialist and /or his treating physician or the treatment team. They may need you and the Soldier’s girlfriend to continue visiting the patient, in spite of the Soldier’s requests, as part of his rehabilitation. This Soldier has experienced some significant losses, and he is angry. Unfortunately he is inappropriately expressing his anger toward you and his girlfriend. Do not take offense. This soldier’s treatment team, if they practice according to community standards, has already performed a thorough evaluation, including a psychological evaluation, on the Soldier. Since you are unaware that the Soldier is stockpiling his medications, you can do nothing more than express concern, for the soldier, to the treatment team.
Do you gauge the capability, as the unit commander, to influence the course of this SPC’s treatment and recovery? How? (For discussion).
Scenario #8 - Post-Deployment
TACTICAL QUESTIONS and ANSWERS: