Vice chief: Restore discipline, stop suicides

By Gina Cavallaro – Staff writer
Posted : Tuesday May 19, 2009 17:41:40 EDT 

A record number of suicides has prompted Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli to launch a massive house-cleaning plan with orders to garrison, installation and medical commanders to revive lapsed health and welfare programs, and restore discipline in the barracks.

The plan addresses two broad areas: closer attention to suicide prevention and tighter adherence to discipline in garrison after eight years of tending to the wars and overseas deployments.  Suicide rates among soldiers have nearly doubled in the last four years, reaching a record high last year. The current rate of suicides suggests that 2009 may exceed numbers for 2008.

A renewed focus on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of soldiers and their families will eventually lead to a more resilient force and fewer suicides, Chiarelli said.  On May 1, Chiarelli issued the Army Campaign Plan for Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention. It includes a checklist and about 250 tasks for commanders with deadlines as early as June. Most have deadlines before the end of the fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.


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