The policy –- decades old, and likely rooted in military perceptions that suicide is dishonorable — has been under review by the president’s National Security Staff since December 2009.

Since then, a senior White House official said, the National Security Staffer engaged in an exhaustive review process, and the president decided to make the change, prompted by “the conversations we had with experts about de-stigmatizing suicide, (and) the conversations we had with military families.”