LEXINGTON, Va., Dec. 7, 2016 - The Institute released the following memorandum to the VMI community today:
MEMORANDUM FOR ALUMNI, PARENTS, FACULTY, STAFF, AND CADETS
SUBJECT: Response to Recent Social Media in Regards to VMI Behavioral Health Programs
The Virginia Military Institute is committed to the well-being of all VMI cadets, faculty, staff and our employees while adhering to the requirements of our rigorous, tough, Spartan environment. VMI continues to have one of the hardest four year academic, physical and discipline experiences in the nation. The reality is that suicide rates and mental health issues continue to be on the rise, particularly for young adults. While our losses in cadets, staff, faculty, and employees over my fourteen year tenure have been small … and one is too many … VMI has not been exempt from these tragedies. Despite full reviews of applicants during our admissions process and in hiring practices, we face mental health issues daily. The Institute took the initiative several years ago to implement a series of optional courses, best practices, bystander intervention, and other actions that have been proven to successfully treat the members of our armed services suffering from similar conditions … and are also seen on campuses across the country.
VMI believes it is appropriate and has a responsibility to expose our cadets to a various set of life skills, including methods of dealing with the implications associated with substance abuse, depression, nutrition, sleep deprivation, stress and anxiety. This is particularly the case at this time of year with added stressors brought on by the holidays and exam periods. No one should assume that VMI coddles its cadets or has become soft. In fact, the Institute is more difficult academically and physically than my time years ago … and I am proud these young men and women elected this difficult path strewn with challenges far different from many of their high school classmates and contemporaries … and far different than our time.