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Nightmare: Changing the ‘Suck it up’ Culture

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I used to have a reoccurring dream after I returned home from my last deployment. It always began and ended the same.

I am running down an alley towards my truck. I am at a full out sprint with bullets skipping the dirt around my heels. I feel as though I cannot run fast enough but finally make it to my vehicle. I jump in, look at the floor board then glance down the alley from which I came. I scream to my driver to move out. No response. I look over to the driver, noticing that my gunner’s legs are not in the gunner’s position, and see that my driver has been replaced with an Insurgent. I pull my 9mm pistol out of my leg holster and point it at his head. He smiles and places the truck in gear to start moving. I pull the trigger of my pistol and put a round in his head. Blood and grey matter covers the inside of the truck. The truck slowly lurches to a stop against a wall. I get out of the truck, I am surrounded, they open fire, and I wake up.

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    What? Suicide is the nature of life in any career, for some reason or another its widely publicize in the military. I strongly believe its because the background of the armed forces. Army Soldiers lives are not the same as, you say, bank of america headquarters corporate workers. The suicide rate in the Army is ALWAYS blamed on junior leaders which I find unfair and an easy cop out when higher HQ doesnt have answers to high suicide rates.

    I always tell Soldiers to find help when they need it. Single soldiers that have a hard time fitting in? I hand them upcoming events to BOSS programs. Married Soldiers going through troubles? I recommend they see the Chaplain or to participate in the next strong bonds retreat.

    What I wont do is listen to Soldier’s complaints when suddenly they have to go to training, WLC, or the field and I tell them to Soldier up and get through the training. Suddenly their is always one hero that will run in and blame me for not caring about the Soldier or their issues.

    All the way 1SG, GO CAV!!!

    *All views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, The Department of Defense or the US Army.*

    • James


      SGT Nick!

      First off, thank you for the reply and thoughts on this subject, they are appreciated. You are correct that suicide is a problem no matter the job. The problem is that suicide is gaining traction in the Army, and THAT is leader business – our business.

      It sounds like you have a plan and are genuinely concerned about your Soldiers, and again, is our job as leaders.

      As a 1SG I can relate to your concern with Soldiers coming up with excuses or problems prior to a field problem or deployment.

      Here is a tip – Do your best to identify those Soldiers prior to the deployment and help solve the possible “problems” before they pop up.

      Keep up the good work!

      1SG Gibson

  • Part-Time-Commander


    Great post, James. I agree with you that it’s okay to get help when we need it. One of the worst things to do is try and deal with everything on your own, especially if you are overwhelmed or depressed. Working with a licensed psychologist, therapist or Chaplain can work wonders. Smart leaders get help when they need it. And they know when their subordinates need help!

    Great post, Top! Thanks for sharing.

    • James


      Thanks for the reply and kind words!

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