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Military leaders say active-duty suicides up 20% during COVID-19 pandemic

While the data is incomplete, Army and Air Force officials said they believe the isolation and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic is adding stress to an already strained force. Senior Army leaders have seen a roughly 30% jump in active duty suicides this year, or 114 suicides this year compared to 88 at the same time last year.

The Pentagon has yet to provide 2020 data, but Army officials said discussions in Defense Department briefings indicate that there has been a 20% jump in overall military suicides.

“I can’t say scientifically, but what I can say is—I can read a chart and a graph, and the numbers have gone up in behavioral health-related issues,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said in an Associated Press interview published Sunday.

“We cannot say definitively [the spike in suicides and murders] is because of COVID. But there is a direct correlation from when COVID started, the numbers actually went up.”

“We know that the measures we took to mitigate and prevent the spread of COVID could amplify some of the factors that could lead to suicide,” said James Helis, director of the Army’s resilience program who attended department briefings on suicide data.

Active-Duty Suicides Up 20% During COVID-19 Pandemic

One proposed solution would be shortening combat deployments. Soldiers’ 10-month deployments stretched to 11 months because of the two-week coronavirus quarantines at the beginning and end.

“We were very focused on readiness four years ago because we had some readiness challenges, and we did a great job. The force is very, very ready now. But I think it’s time now to focus on people,” Gen. James McConville told the Associated Press.

LT Heather “Lucky” Penny – U.S. Air Force Kamikaze Mission on 9/11

On the morning of September 11th, 2001, LT Heather “Lucky” Penney of the District of Columbia Air National Guard and her squadron mate, Colonel Sasseville, were alerted about two planes that had just flown into the World Trade Center. As a third plane struck the pentagon, reports began circulating that a fourth plane, United Flight 93 out of Newark, New Jersey, was still out there as a threat. Air command speculated it was also headed to D.C. for another strike on the Pentagon, or a strike on the White House, or even the Capitol Building. With no time to load weapons onto their F-16 Fighter Jets, they both took flight, staying low in D. C. airspace in search of Flight 93. Their goal: with no weapons, they were to deliberately crash themselves into and destroy a Boeing 757 passenger aircraft, 7 times the weight of their small jets. Admittedly, it was a suicide “kamikaze” mission.

Once airborne, they agreed upon the plan of attack. Sasseville would head for the 757’s cockpit and Penney would aim for the plane’s tail. As they sped out beyond Andrews Air Force Base, flying low at about 3,000 feet, they could see black, billowing smoke streaming from the Pentagon. Finally, after an hour of desperately searching for flight 93, they received word that the aircraft had crashed landed in a field in rural Pennsylvania.

Heather Penney is the true definition of grit. She donned her flight suit knowing full well that it was a suicide mission, but with the intent to prevent more destruction and loss of life of American citizens. This is what it means to serve, that at any time you might be called upon to lay down your life to save others.

Since that day, Heather Penney serve two tours in Iraq, was promoted to Major, retired and currently works for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company. She has had time to reflect on her experience on September 11, 2001—and the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93. “Joining the Air Force, I made a decision with my life and swore an oath to protect and defend my country. But the passengers on flight 93 didn’t, they were just everyday people, mothers, fathers, school teachers, businessmen,” Penney said. “They are the true heroes”.

Never Forget

~Grey Team

I Am A Veteran

To understand a Military Veteran you must know:

We left home as teenagers or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.

We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.

We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.

We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.

We found new friends and new family.We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race or creed.

viet

We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.We didn’t get enough sleep.

We smoked and drank too much.We picked up both good and bad habits.

We worked hard and played harder.We didn’t earn a great wage.

We experienced the happiness of mail call and the sadness of missing important events.

We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.

We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.

We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.

Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t. Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.

Some of us dealt with physical warfare, most of us dealt with psychological warfare.

We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.

We participated in time-honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.

We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.

We have dealt with victory and tragedy.

We have celebrated and mourned.We lost a few along the way.

When our adventure was over, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.

We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.

We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will understand.

We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.

We know, however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one, in a heartbeat.

Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.

It has no monetary value, but at the same time, it is a priceless gift.

People see a Veteran and they thank them for their service.

When we see each other, we give that little upwards head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.

So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.

Try to remember the good times and make peace with the bad times.

Share your stories.

But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.

I’m a VETERAN!