Friday, October 7, 2016

The Fault in Battle Against Veteran Suicides

There was a time when I avoid any mention of an Opinion piece but shockingly enough, I started to notice that the writer was actually paying attention. Reading the headline of "The VA’s Faltering Battle Against Veteran Suicide" by Robert M. Morgenthau on The Wall Street Journal, there is a lot that he got right.
"The most dramatic manifestation of PTSD among veterans now is a suicide rate approximately twice that of the general population."
We can quote all the numbers we want as many times as we want but the truth is, these reported numbers have remained pretty much unchanged with a casual look. In 1999 it was 20 a day and again, this year, the VA sets the reported number at 20 a day. 

What is not mentioned is that back in 1999 there were about 5 million more veterans in the country than there are now.
"It is time for Congress and the administration to take ownership of this issue."
For all the hearings and claims made by politicians, all the money spent, it is actually worse now than it was when the press failed our veterans and did not want to publicize what families like mine were going through. We suffered in silence, not by our own choice, but because the American public was not able to hear us.

Congress has just blamed the VA yet within the numbers the fact remains that veterans receiving treatment from the VA are less likely to commit suicide than those who are not turning to the VA. Instead of spending money on what does work, funding programs that were learned and proven over the last 4 decades, they push repeated failures.

And what veterans do not agree with.
Similarly, we need to face frankly that current efforts to combat PTSD and suicide have been inadequate. To supply crucially needed mental health services, Congress and the administration need to act immediately to provide veterans access to civilian mental-health services, and need to improve treatment by dramatically expanding public/private partnerships. This must be a priority.
They do not want to go to a civilian doctor simply because they are civilians. They cannot begin to understand a veteran back from combat he/she left the night before in their dreams. As for those still in the military, they are not included in on any of the quoted numbers but are included in on the suffering.

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