Annie’s Mailbox: Important to know challenges in Army |

Annie’s Mailbox: Important to know challenges in Army

Dear Annie: The Army’s recent report of an increase in the suicide rate among soldiers sheds light on an important public health issue. It also highlights the need to create greater awareness around the challenges affecting the men and women serving in our armed forces, as well as the many services available to them through the Department of Defense and other organizations.

After 29 years of military service, I recently retired and began a new chapter of service to my country and comrades. In dealing with my own struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, I have been sharing my personal experience with veterans and active duty members, and encouraging them to acknowledge and seek help for emotional health issues. In my efforts, I hope to not only help prevent the tragedy of suicide, but also to help our brave warriors overcome the too common lack of understanding about mental health issues.

Please join me in spreading the word about the importance of seeking help. One resource available is the Mental Health Self-Assessment Program®, which offers veterans, service members and their families information about how to manage the stress of military life and provides self-assessments for a range of emotional health issues. The assessments are free and anonymous and can be accessed at or by calling 1-877-877-3647. After completing a self-assessment, individuals receive information on how to get help.

It is important for service members to know that PTSD and depression are not character flaws or personal weaknesses. They are illnesses that are common and treatable. It takes courage to ask for help. Thank you for letting me share my story.

– Command Sgt. Maj. Samuel Marvin Rhodes Sr. (Ret)

Dear Command Sgt. Maj. Rhodes: We have mentioned this Web site in our column before and are happy to do so again. We hope active military members, as well as veterans and their families, will look into this Web site and take the screening. It is completely confidential and can be enormously helpful. Thank you for letting us spread the word.

Dear Annie: I am writing about the advice you gave “Goldilocks,” whose friend and hairdresser, “Cora,” was not doing a good job.

I would tell Cora that she is not listening to her customers, which will hurt her business. She could start by saying, “Cora, we have had a long and wonderful relationship. I care about you and your well-being. I am taking a risk by telling you the truth because I value you and don’t want to stand by and let you hurt yourself.” Then tell her kindly what the problem is.

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