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Suicides in the military are increasing at an alarming rate. Just last month, 32 Army soldiers committed suicide – a figure not seen since the Vietnam War when the Army was twice as large. While other services don’t have suicide numbers quite that high, they have all increased since 2009.
Admiral Mullen believes that more needs to be done about the suicides; it is a tragedy that leaders at all levels must address. “We can’t just keep reading the numbers every single month. They just keep going up,” Admiral Mullen said.
According to Admiral Mullen, the problem needs to be addressed by leadership and include leadership tactics from all levels to help control the issue. Everyone is a leader no matter how junior individuals are; they are called on to lead, and provide support to those around them said the Admiral.
Good leadership will ensure a bright future for the U.S. military, Mullen said, “If we lead well and do right by our people whatever it is, we will be in great shape.”
“That means we’ve got to continue to advance, we’ve got to continue to educate, we’ve got to continue to mentor each other,” the admiral continued. “What I ask is that each of you mentor young people coming along. That is the strength of the organization. We take care of each other, we treat people like we want to be treated with dignity and respect.
The Army recently came out with a new video in hopes of combating the suicide issue. While the video is a great educational piece, releasing yet another video will not solve this problem. Instead, a culture shift within the organization needs to happen and the leadership needs to truly step-up in a fashion outlined by Admiral Mullen. The mentorship piece and fostering an environment of taking care for one another are the key ingredients. While introducing cultural changes into any organization can take significant time to adapt to, they are all changes necessary for the long term strength of our military and its people.