The FY20 National Defense Authorization Act is incomplete, Rep. Mark Green argued on Tuesday. He's hoping Congress will consider his amendment to tackle the alarming rate of active-duty and veteran suicides. About 20 service members and veterans take their lives every day, he explained, in part because they are not spiritually prepared for war.
His amendment would direct the Department of Defense to assess the availability and usage of the assistance of chaplains, houses of worship and other spiritual resources for members of the Armed Forces of all self-identified religious affiliations in order help counter the tragic rate of military suicides, Green explained in a press release. The congressman served in the military for 24 years.
“In the past year, the rates of active-duty military suicides have increased dramatically," he said. "It is our duty to ensure warriors and veterans are mentally, emotional, and spiritually prepared for war.
“Every commander can tell me how well their equipment is ready to deploy. Things like marksmanship, and training on various maneuver tasks are all measured. But I am confident not a single commander in the military could measure the spiritual readiness of those soldiers who self-identify as spiritual or religious. The data is clear, treating spiritual wounds can save lives.”
Green testified on this need at a Committee on Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on National Security hearing last month.
"It is our duty to ensure warriors and veterans are mentally, emotionally - and i'd like to introduce today -spiritually prepared for war," he said.
Non-religious individuals are more at risk for suicide, he explained. Chaplains and churches can help soldiers cope with "moral injuries," such as the guilt of having survived while their best friends did not.
Religion is being "ridiculed," Green said. To the point where even the simple display of a Bible is becoming an issue.
"It is time to put the political correctness of this issue aside," he said. "We must focus on the spiritual fitness of our force to help them survive the emotional horror of war."