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Troops At Risk Can Now Be Asked About Gun Possession

Stephanie Farmer, widow of Army Spc. Josh Farmer, who committed suicide in 2009.
SSG Jim Greenhill
Stephanie Farmer, widow of Army Spc. Josh Farmer, who committed suicide in 2009.

As suicides in the military continue to climb, commanders are now specifically authorized to ask their troops about firearms they may own privately, according to the Stars and Stripes.

The provision in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act also gives doctors, nurses, and chaplains the authority to question service members about firearm possession, when they believe the troops may harm themselves with guns they have at home.

The Army recently reported more of its soldiers lost their lives to suicide in 2012 than in combat.

Last month, retired Army generals Dennis J. Reimer and Peter W. Chiarelli wrote an editorial in the Washington Post, urging lawmakers to add the authorization to the 2013 defense bill. The editorial read, in part:

Suicide was the No. 1 cause of death for U.S. troops. More than two-thirds of suicides involved firearms, and nearly three-quarters of those cases involved personal weapons, not military weapons.

Reversing this epidemic is among the military’s highest priorities. In that regard, one of the things we learned during our careers is that stress, guns and alcohol constitute a dangerous mixture.
The Stars and Stripes reports the National Rifle Association is not opposed to this new authorization.
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