Series: Drugs and the Military
Soldiers on leave from the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan have been ordered to get home for dinner by the commander of the Army's Fort Hood, who is looking for ways to cut soldiers' stress, improve morale, and reduce the incidence of suicide and addiction among his troops.
CNN reported June 9 that Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch issued a directive that soldiers working day shifts leave early enough to be home for dinner by 6 p.m., and that they leave by 3 p.m. on Thursdays to enjoy time with their families. The policy change came as the result of a conversation Lynch had with the wife of a soldier on combat leave, known as “dwell time” in Army parlance.
“She said 'General, don't talk to us about dwell time. Because my husband might as well be in Iraq,'” Lynch said. “'He comes home after the kids go to bed, we never see him on weekends and you take him away to train all the time.'”
Lynch also has opened a “Resiliency Campus” on base that features programs and activities designed to enhance soldiers' mental, physical and spiritual well-being. The policy has yielded some successes, including 200 straight days with no highway deaths among soldiers on the roads around the base, and only two suicides in 2009 among the tens of thousands of troops at Fort Hood.