Key ROTC officers issue a strong joint message: There is no stigma in seeking counseling help

As the commanding officers of the Naval, Army, and Air Force ROTC programs at Norwich, we three senior officers ultimately control who becomes a military officer in the United States Armed Forces and who doesn’t. As such, we strongly disagree with the comment made in the 6 Nov Guidon as it pertains to a perceived stigma attached to—or a bias against—commission-seeking cadets who also seek counseling. To the contrary, we admire the judgment and courage of those who seek help when they need it. Knowing when you need counsel and taking action to get it shows strength, not weakness. We also want to expose as false any suspicion that we monitor or keep some sort of records on those seeking counseling. On our honor, we do not and will not.

As senior officers, experienced military commanders, and fathers, we strongly encourage anyone in need—whether seeking a commission or not—to make use of the counseling services offered by the university. We don’t keep track of who goes in and out of the counseling center; there are no lists. First and foremost, we care about your psychological and emotional well-being, which forms the foundation for your academic success, physical health, and professional advancement. We encourage you to see a counselor in exactly the same manner as we would encourage you to seek a tutor or a doctor or a professional mentor.
We Colonels remember a time in the military when counseling services weren’t as available as they are today. That doesn’t mean we didn’t need them; it just means they weren’t available. We are past that, and for good reason…and have been for a decade. Whatever stigma remains has been perpetuated by the ill-informed and inexperienced—not by commanders who have witnessed the personal losses and organizational costs resulting from hesitance to seek help. We are the three senior commissioned officers on this campus and we’re telling you: It’s okay for you to seek help from the Norwich Counseling and Psychological Services Department, or any other professional counselor.

Comments

  1. I commend the Colonels in making this positional statement known to Norwich Students. This statement made may help dispel the stigma for commissioning seeking cadets and students. However stigma is applied only to the person(s) and the social group of the person(s) who need to seek help.

    Stigma as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “: a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something” (Source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stigma)

    What needs to be done in order to prevent any negative outcome of even the thought or idea of seeking counseling needs to start at the the root of the problem. In this case it is not just educating those who are seeking a commission or career in the Armed Forces (or any other Civil Service Job; Examples- Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Services) but sharing and showing that if someone seeks out professional help that it is not considered weakness or something that could ruin their careers if they choose to help do help fix or alleviate their emotional/mental illness/difficulties etc.

    With this stigma that exists in peoples minds that there is a bias or view of/for people who seek help especially with those who seek to work in the Armed Forces or Civil Services that bias makes them back farther away from seeking help. They would back away because they are afraid of repercussions, what others might think of them if they found out that they seeked help.

    The Army Department has the ACE Suicide Intervention Program however this program does not provide any examples for those who the stigmatic belief applies to be able to personally SEE that the stigmas in seeking professional help will not create a bias, or be a “black mark” on their military (or public) record.

Speak Your Mind

*