WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Army said Wednesday its soldiers have been ordered to put aside duties on Thursday, and spend the day on suicide prevention training.
Sergeant Major Raymond Chandler said at a news conference the day will focus on making sure troops and their families know what programs are available to them and helping them get over the embarrassment and seek help.
Troops with duties such as combat operations in Afghanistan or medical duties in army hospitals will schedule their training when possible.
The U.S. military is facing a growing problem of suicide, as the cumulative effects of 10 years of war take a heavy toll on servicemembers. Being the largest of the services with the highest number of suicides, the Army had 167 suicides in 2011. The figure could approach 200 this year. The Army is also the only one planning the special training Thursday.
In an interview this week with a North Carolina newspaper, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Defense Department is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs to allot 100 million dollars toward advancing diagnosis and treatment, in order to prevent suicides.
"We've really been pushing on trying to open up access to quality mental and behavioral health care, trying to expand access, so we've got some 9,000 new psychiatrists and psychologists, social workers and nurses," Panetta said.