Maybe the problem is the mission
Such meetings are one piece of a broader effort to arrest the Army's rising suicide rate, which has surged to record levels in the past year. In 2008, 140 soldiers on active duty took their own lives, continuing a trend in which the number of suicides has increased more than 60 percent since 2003, surpassing the rate for the general U.S. population.
To deal with the problem, the Army has added to the ranks of mental health and substance abuse counselors. The service also required all units to cease operations for two to four hours to talk about suicide prevention in February and March.
Chiarelli's monthly meetings are the Army's way of sleuthing out patterns and identifying new policies to deal with the trend. In the most recent meeting, conducted last week, commanders were brutally candid about what went wrong -- a mental health screener who missed signs of distress; the failure to take notice when a normally reliable infantryman with three combat tours didn't show up for an Army school; the dangerous interactions of drugs, dispensed to help soldiers deal with combat stress, with caffeine and alcohol.
"It's the most gut-wrenching meeting I go to," Chiarelli said.
Perhaps. Very, very few sign up to be racketeers, though, I'm betting.