Did you know that the suicide rate in the military is the highest that it has been in over 10 years? During the first 155 days of 2012, there were 154 suicides of active duty soldiers. According to a Pentagon report released last August, one soldier commits suicide every 36 hours. In addition, the suicide rate among National Guard and Reserve soldiers has more than doubled.

What is the suicide rate of Military Spouses? No one knows because it is not documented nor is it researched. According to the military, suicides are only tracked for spouses “when possible”… shouldn’t we matter too?

We spouses are known as “the backbone of the soldier”, serving proudly in the shadows. Let me inform you that the shadow that we serve in can be a very dark, lonely and depressing place at times. We support our men and women in uniform, moving with them from place to place and even abroad, we are expected to bloom where the military plants us. We spend a majority of time alone, helping them through the symptoms of PTSD, finding odd jobs when available and raising our children with a sense of stability, even though there is none. Yet, we are not even accounted for (nor are we a statistic), we are only known as “dependents”. Suicide and PTSD is a serious issue among Military spouses and families, it needs to be addressed.

To quote another military spouse: “Ultimately spouses don’t need another program, they don’t need more training. What they need – what they want – is time. Time with their spouses, time together with their family, time with a counselor, a doctor or a minister. They want time to explore and understand what is happening to them . . . and the patience and understanding of loved ones, friends and the system itself. “

How can this be serious situation for spousal PTSD or Suicides be prevented?

ACCOUNTABILITY, ACKNOWLEDGEMNET and EDUCATION. We can start by making it known that IT IS A PROBLEM and VERY COMMON. We need to make counseling resources more readily available, who has time to check themselves into a mental facility? We have a family to take care of, a soldier to support, bills to pay, etc.

Another way of helping is to make the deployments shorter, a one-year tour is at least six months too long. Couples who are serving abroad on command sponsor tours need mentors for guidance and spouses need the same treatment as the soldiers, including medical treatment (I am currently serving abroad with my husband and have to receive medical treatment off post, over an hour away from where we live).

All military spouses should have the same resiliency training that their soldier receives (Most spouses don’t even know that this training is available). Marriage retreats and counseling should be available and mandatory for the soldier and spouse. More support groups and moral boosters for the spouse, children and families. The military needs to realize that the best moral booster a soldier can receive is quality time with his or her family, and we the spouses, need it too.

If you have a broken family, chances are you’re going to have a broken soldier, and vice versa.

Dear Military, if you have a broken soldier, well, you are only as strong as your weakest link. It can be fixed, but it has to start with the backbone.


About sswimp

I am not an "African-American'. I am a proud American, who happens to be of African descent. I am Christian. My personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the Word of God shapes my concepts of what it means to be a conservative. I am Pro Life. Devoted to the principles of free enterprise, limited government,and individual responsibility. I believe in the sanctity of marriage between a man and woman.
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  1. Jan Leinweber says:

    It is an interesting article Stacy. Having been both a spouse and active duty at the same time, I can sort of agree, there should be more, but at the same time, I did it all, and put up with abuse at the same time. (that’s another story) As far as moving alot, I know some of the other branches move a lot more often than us USAF folks, we often had to volunteer for a remote assignment just to get away from a base.
    I know about separations from loved ones, and even when not at war, the long days and weeks in preparing for war and training for it, additional duties, and extensive days. I know when I PCS’d with my kids overseas, and my spouse at the time couldn’t go, I had to not only have guardians assigned to care for them during extended hours, TDY’s and such, I had to find a dependent spouse who would sign on to take my kids along with hers back to the states should things go bad and all civilians needed to evacuate.
    But, at the same time, I’ve seen the wives at home during the 1st gulf war, (I couldn’t go with my squadron due to not having a fitted gas mask) and watched the wining, watched the screwing around, (kept my mouth shut) watched the pity party, while because most of my squadron was gone, I worked 16-18 hour days and had to brief the spouses on how to take care of their housing, repairs, mow their lawns, and about the multitude of services offered. Remember I had to do all these duties and also work. My kids would come join me at work, and often my daughter would help me catch up with filing and other duties, until 10pm or so, get up and get her and her brother to school while I pulled another long day – we pulled long days. But I certainly earned my retirement.
    I’ve seen divorced spouses take some of the active members retirement and not only did they not do anything to earn it, but got their civil service jobs because of their active spouse, and even the courts are not following the laws on this. This is not earned by them. The tables are turning though because now the active can also take part of their civil service retirements when their former spouses retire.
    Training for PTSD and other problems isn’t a bad idea, anything that helps, but it wasn’t really talked about much way back in my time in the USAF. Heck, they never talked about domestic violence either, it was swept under the rug until I started giving my speaches on it in the NCO Leadership schools and academy. This is something that should be local though, and it can be on a voluntary basis. Many things are more effective if the government doesn’t intervene, so I would suggest that. Also, if someone is an avid hunter, and it’s documented that they have PTSD, it can prevent them from ever buying another hunting rifle or from many jobs as civilians are scared of it. For a while, the VA was assigning that diagnosis to everyone that ever saw combat and I wonder if this was a way to disarm all veterans.
    I know and understand there are issues, some people suffer from it, some don’t, it depends on the will and strength of the individual. I witnessed the death of a co-worker one night, when a group of us went out. He was murdered at my car and they stole his. It was very tramatic, and even after the cops impounded my car at my insistance to get the handprints off it, (you could see where he was leaning on the front of the hood, and when shot in the face by one of the perps who was on the side of the hood, trying to get my friend to hand over the keys to his car parked next to mine, and the marks on the hood where he slid off it to the ground) the cops never even cleaned the blood off the car when they called me to come get it. I was the one that had to call the Commander and tell him the news and tell his roommate the news that he didn’t make it. Some would say that because this is an even that is forever imprinted in my brain, that I will never forget, that it could be PTSD? I don’t know, but I’ve learned that memories are not always bad. You deal with them, you process them, you tuck them away and learn from them.
    I guess some people can’t do that as well. I see no problem in letting their spouses learn how to help them. Maybe I’m just a little hardened to life and have learned how to stop and watch the sunsets and smell the flowers with all the bad things going on. Maybe I just put more faith in God to help me with all of the problems and fears and know He is there for me and have let him ease the pains through the years and move on.

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