On the military’s pre-deployment health assessment form, there is only one question regarding mental health that a recruit is asked before deploying. Question 7 asks, “During the past year, have you sought counseling or care for your mental health?” Matt Kauffman and Lisa Chedekel of the HARTFORD COURANT spent a year investigating mental health screening, depression, and suicide in the military. Are American soldiers mentally fit to fight? What happens if the answer is no?

>> EXPOSÉ retraces the reporters’ steps in their latest episode: “Question 7.” Watch the entire episode online.

>> EXPOSÉ’s “Question 7” airs tonight on PBS. Check local listings.

>> Read Chedekel and Kauffman’s series, which first appeared in the May 14-17, 2006, editions of the HARTFORD COURANT.

Reporters Lisa Chedekel and Matt Kauffman talk about their very different reporting styles and conducting tough interviews, “some of the toughest either of us has ever done.”

With the families of troops who had committed suicide in Iraq, most of them had never talked about the circumstances of the death of their son or daughter or husband…. Some had never even told relatives or close friends. There we were, strangers calling them from a newspaper in New England, asking them about one of the most taboo topics imaginable—suicide. You’d think most of them would hang up. And yet few did.

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Carrie Ching is an award-winning, independent multimedia journalist and producer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. For six years, she led digital storytelling projects at the Center for Investigative Reporting as senior multimedia producer. Her multimedia reports have been featured by NPR.org, The Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, Grist, Time.com, Fast Company, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, KQED, PBS NewsHour, Salon.com, Mother Jones, Public Radio International, Poynter, Columbia Journalism Review and many other publications. Her specialty is crafting digital narratives and exploring ways to use video, audio, photography, animation and interactive graphics to push the boundaries of storytelling on the Web, tablets and mobile. Her work has been honored with awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Best of the West, the Online News Association, Scripps Howard, The Gracies, and was part of the entry in a Pulitzer-finalist project. Prior to her time at CIR she was a magazine and book editor, video journalist, newspaper reporter and TV comedy scriptwriter. She was on the 2010 Eddie Adams Workshop faculty as a multimedia producer working with MediaStorm to teach digital storytelling techniques to photojournalists. She completed a master’s degree in journalism at UC Berkeley in 2005.