Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thank You, Mr. President

[Trigger warning for self-harm and sexual violence.]

The Obama administration has made an important policy shift in presidential condolence letters:
Most families who lose a loved one in the war zones receive a letter of condolence from the President of the United States. But there are a few who do not receive this honor. It's long standing policy - going back many years - that troops who commit suicide in war do not get the president's acknowledgment.

...Under a decades-old White House policy, inherited by the Obama administration, military families received letters from the president only if their loved ones died on the battlefield or in accidents in war zones.

Now, the policy is changing. ... We're told the policy affects all military families whose loved ones die in war zones, regardless of how they died.
This is a much more compassionate and fair policy, which acknowledges that the service of someone who ends hir own life is no less valuable than the service of someone whose life is taken by an enemy, especially since, in most cases, it's effectively the war that kills them either way.

It's also of particular importance for the families of female soldiers like Pfc. LaVena Johnson, whose deaths are reported as suicides despite the distinct likelihood of their having been killed by fellow soldiers who raped them, and other survivors of soldiers whose deaths are staged as suicides for various reasons.