I applaud and thank retired Army Brig. Gen. Stephen N. Xenakis (“The military doesn’t know who is fit to fight,” column, March 27) in his efforts to bring to light the discrepancy between what we are doing and what we should be doing in regard to the mental care of our soldiers. As a psychiatrist, he is certainly more qualified than most who comment and write on this topic — and much more so than those peddling the dozen or so separate initiatives out there across the force to address this important issue.

For those who missed the column, the crux of it is that what we are currently doing to assess the mental stability of our soldiers with often multiple deployments after 10 years of war is eyewash — an ineffective, outdated system or process that really provides no benefit to the soldier but “checks the block” to say we have done our part. In other words, we are doing something to say we are doing something. There are better and more effective systems out there and Xenakis is advocating their implementation. Maybe this terrible tragedy with Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will provide a burst of energy to his efforts.

I am not a health care professional, nor claim any expertise in this area, but after 25 years in the Army and multiple deployments, I know soldiers — and I know that what we are currently doing is not the answer. Xenakis sums it up best in the conclusion to his column: “To recover from 10 years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army must focus not on weapons systems but on people.”

Maj. Mark S. Leslie

Stuttgart, Germany

Should’ve stopped ‘hoodies up’

Why, of all things happening in our world, was “Ramstein goes ‘hoodies up’ for Trayvon Martin” front-page news (Europe edition, April 4)?

I’m confused as to the reason for Ramstein High School principal Greg Hatch endorsing such a stunt. The article states Hatch told his students that “hoodies aren’t allowed in school for safety and security reasons.” So, why on Earth would he allow this to occur?

All this does is sensationalize the events around Trayvon Martin’s death.

If a school bans wearing hoodies, it’s obviously for the safety and benefit of both the faculty and student body. Hatch should have made an adult decision by not allowing this demonstration to have taken place and instead focused his energies on his students’ education and not on a politically and racially motivated Florida state issue.

Anna Davis

Kaiserslautern, Germany

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