There's no denying that being a soldier is a stressful job. Aside from being physically demanding, the job also requires regular moves and is mentally straining. In an effort to stay on top of soldiers' mental health, officials at Fort Carson have launched a new program. Known as Preventative Maintenance of the Comprehensive Soldier (PMCS), the initiative is meant to strengthen bonds between leaders and soldiers so they can identify servicemembers who may be mentally taxed, reports Army Times.
A break from tradition
What sets the the PMCS apart from already established programs is that there is no set timetable. Instead, officials are encouraging platoon leaders to ask their soldiers about their well-being at unscheduled times, such as before a workout or during other periods of downtime. The different approach may provide more candid answers and offer better insight into how soldiers are doing at that particular time.
"We want to make it a little more informal that way, where it's sort of the air we breathe, and this culture we're living in," Capt. Sam Rico told the news source. "A lunch in civilian clothes, where they can just talk, acts like a culvert to let some of the pressure go," he said.
Aside from being better able to assess how soldiers are doing on a regular basis, the PMCS is meant as way to improve relationships between troops and their commanders, which have been strained due to the decade-plus of war. Furthermore, Rico says that the new program is especially easy to implement at Fort Carson – and others – because there are no set guidelines or rules that need to be followed.
A legislative push
In addition to efforts like those at Fort Carson to improve mental health assessments, there has been a renewed focus on the issue among lawmakers. Most recently, a pair of bills made their way through Congress. Among them is the Military Mental Health Empowerment Act, which was written in an effort to encourage more troops to seek counseling by eliminating the stigma that is sometimes attached to doing so. The other bill, the Military Suicide Reduction Act, is aimed at providing better assessments to identify troops who may be at a high suicide risk upon their separation from service.