Who knows what to say when someone dies? Often, not knowing what to say, we put off writing the note and eventually don't say anything. The intention to write is there, but what to say isn't easy or obvious.
Some have suggested that sending a condolence card is in fact part of a physician's professional obligation to a patient. Families may be comforted by the affirmation that their loved one was not merely a name on a roster, but a person, whose death is noteworthy.
Perhaps, like his stance on gay marriage, President Obama's stance on soldier suicides can "evolve" into the only humane and thoughtful position -- that of sending condolences to the families of all troops who commit suicide.
Obama should use the bully pulpit to urge troops and veterans to seek help if they are depressed, suffering from PTSD or suicidal. He should also trumpet legislation to fund more mental-health counselors for the armed forces and for veterans.
Part of the solution should be acknowledging that mental illness in the form of suicidal behavior can be brought about or exacerbated by the rigors of military service. When this results in the death of one of our soldiers, their loved ones deserve our sympathy and understanding.