The military is spending more time and energy to get stressed-out soldiers into counseling, but many service members say the stigma is tough to overcome. The obstacles are illustrated by the case of Sgt. John Russell, who allegedly opened fire at a Baghdad combat stress clinic, killing five comrades. Russell’s father said the 44-year-old Army vet thought he was being pushed out of the service after 15 years when he was ordered into counseling.
That fear is common in the military. “You get worried that it’s going to affect your career. You get worried that it’s going to affect people’s confidence in your ability,” a 31-year-old Long Island soldier who served in Afghanistan told the Daily News. “There’s this whole pride thing. Nobody wants to admit they’re going through stuff.” With multiple deployments, combat stress and problems on the home front taking their toll on the troops, military officials admit they face a challenge.
“As long as the demand on forces stays what it is right now and the supply of forces remains the same, it’ll be very difficult for us to do anything with that stress,” said Army Vice Chief of Staff Peter Chiarelli. “But we’ve got to help soldiers understand how they can cope.”