Recently, the blogosphere has been ablaze about the Army's "Soldier Fitness Tracker" (SFT), a computerized mental health assessment program. The SFT's questionnaire rates soldiers' mental "fitness" in four separate categories: emotional, social, family, and spiritual. According to bloggers, Atheists, who might answer "no" to questions such as "I attend regular religious services", or "In difficult times, I pray or meditate", are generally assessed as being mentally unhealthy in the "spiritual" category (see picture left).
While issues regarding the separation of Church and State are, of course, a very relevant issue, there's something even more scandalous afoot. Let's say a soldier did score in the "red" on a particular mental health category; would anyone care? While statistics may be tracked, with personally identifying data removed, at the Department of the Army, failing every single aspect of the SFT won't result in a soldier being taken away to the nearest counselor in a straightjacket. In fact, Atheists who "fail" the spiritual portion of the SFT might be less likely to see a mental health professional, as they might, understandably, scoff at the results.
Throwing money, endless surveys, and mandatory classes aren't curbing suicides. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that suicides will begin to subside in 2015, when the Army won't be feeling the stress of two large wars, and won't be struggling to bring in an additional 27,000 troops, regardless of qualifications.