The Corner

Obama Does the Right Thing

I’d be interested in seeing arguments to the contrary, but it seems to me that Obama has done the right thing by reversing the policy of not sending condolence letters to servicemen who commit suicide. It strikes me as simply humane and decent to do so. I’ll check the comments for those who disagree.

Update: So far I haven’t seen any dissents that I find all that persuasive, even though they make some fine ancillary points. For instance there’s this from commenter Is1ss:

I have to disagree. Artful spinning to the contrary it elevates those who were not killed in the act of defending their country to those who were. This is the same concept (though certainly not to the level of importance; I’m talking concepts here) as giving awards to all the participants in the schoolyard field day.

If you want to send some sort of acknowledgement of the death of one who kills themselves that’s fine. The letter of condolence to the family of a military member KIA represents an important part of the ceremony recognizing the ultimate sacrifice paid to maintain our freedom and should not be diluted.

You may claim this (ultimate sacrifice) is hyperbole but there are real heroes and real sacrifices; everything isn’t relevant. For the record I’m former USAF and did not see combat.

I understand the point and if I thought that soldiers who committed suicide were being elevated to heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice, I might agree. But it seems to me that’s not a mistake anyone close to the actual event would make. Presumably the condolence letter for a suicide would be different for someone who died in combat (am I wrong on that? Are all condolence letters alike?). Moreover the family knows what has happened as do his comrades. A condolence letter’s not going to change that.  A condolence letter is not a medal and I don’t imagine many people will ever confuse the two. It’s an all-volunteer military and it’s tragic that some people are overwhelmed by the experience. Acknowledging that seems like the decent thing to do.


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