The senior enlisted leader of the U.S. Army took to Twitter on Tuesday to dispel rumors about new barracks policies supposedly aimed at curbing suicide rates among active duty troops.
The rumor seems to suggest that the Army will be making all Soldiers share rooms in the barracks in an attempt to prevent suicides among active duty troops.
Sergeant Major Michael A. Grinston engaged the rumor head-on via his Twitter account Tuesday night, posting a screen capture of a text conversation regarding the rumor, and calling it “completely false.” While it’s not uncommon for Soldiers in training to share rooms, quarters for active duty Soldiers tend to improve once they reach their duty station, especially as they pick up rank.
However, during construction, some Soldiers have been stuck two-to-a-room, and Grinston made sure to clarify that this is a temporary situation.
“Almost all new construction I have seen has a private living area with shared common spaces like kitchen, living room, and laundry areas. During some projects, we are required to put 2+ soldiers in one room, these are VERY temporary solutions while construction is underway,” Grinston wrote.
Army base regulations call for non-commissioned officers to have their own rooms whenever possible, and likewise, not more than two Soldiers should be assigned to a single room when circumstances allow. However, as Grinston points out, the Army is in the midst of spending $10 billion over the span of a decade to improve barracks facilities across the branch. He goes on to point out that many new barracks are laid out with four single bedrooms sharing a full-sized kitchen and their own laundry facilities.
Grinston finally advised that leaders review plans for barracks improvements at their duty stations and communicate those plans to their troops.
The rumor that the Army may want to double-up all Soldiers in the barracks may have taken hold, in part, because of the Defense Department’s very real efforts to address high suicide rates within the branch and force-wide. Military suicides saw a sharp spike in the final months of 2020, totaling 377 across all active-duty branches in the year.
The Army is indeed making moves to ensure Soldiers in need of support, training, or mental healthcare are getting it, but as Grinston points out, none of those efforts include taking away a service member’s personal space. Among most troops, that would almost certainly be seen as a reduction in quality of life, rather than an effective means of addressing mental health issues.
Per the Army MWR Program:
If you are feeling distressed or hopeless, thinking about death or wanting to die, or if you are concerned about someone who may be suicidal, contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 (and press 1 to talk to someone NOW) or visit online.