Friday, January 13, 2017

Shame Missing on Veterans Committing Suicide

Veterans continue to kill themselves. There is a lot of shame in that but not in them. It is ours to carry!

It is time to stop the bullshit, stop talking, stop writing, stop walking, pushing up, fundraising and getting publicity for what you want to do because we are only making matters worse for the veterans and families we claim we want to help. For Heaven's Sake! They still think having PTSD is something to be ashamed of!

Shame on Congress!
In 1999, when no one was talking about veterans committing suicide other than veterans and families, this chart shows there were 20 a day taking their own lives. There were over 5 million more veterans in the country. Thus, while the number of reported suicides has remained consistent, the number of veterans has been greatly reduced.

Why? For over a decade of bills being written, and funded, the result has been a higher percentage of veterans have been taking their own lives, not less. In 2007 the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act was signed into law. Ever since then, there has been an endless series of politicians writing the same bills, repeating what has failed.
Shame on Veterans Groups!
In 1978 the DAV produced a study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The title was The Forgotten Warrior Project. This is the pamphlet they were handing out. I got a copy of it in 1993 and received a lot of comfort knowing it was not just happening to my family.
I love all these groups and belong to some of them, as I have for most of my life. Yet, as the DAV, VFW and American Legion groups complain about the lack of younger veterans joining, they have done far too little to remember what it was like when they came home. Seems there is far too much unawareness on PTSD. 
Why? Families are still searching for support and information, yet, these groups sit back and let regular folks make claims to the press about what they are doing. They allow the press to keep making the public believe that the suicides are happening only to younger veterans, while the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50. They allow Congress to continue to write bills that do not work and waste precious time instead of taking the time to know what they are dealing with before they rush to do anything that makes them feel good but leaves veterans behind. Put together groups and open it up to non-members. Prove they do matter that much to you and then maybe you'll get them to join. As long as that is not your goal and you prove you do care, any help you give them will be appreciated and will actually make a difference.
Shame on Reporters!
Why? You continue to give publicity to people doing pushups while veterans get pushed away from families and friends because they have been living under the assumption there is no hope for them. You jump on what is easy to report on, like repeating a number in a report without reading the report itself, thus perpetuating a headline as if it was correct instead of discovering what the facts really were.
Have any of you actually tried to figure out how taking a walk, doing pushups or having a group run benefits anyone other than the participants? It doesn't help veterans stay alive after surviving combat. I still wonder if any of you take this seriously enough to have noticed that fact? They did everything humanly possible to survive combat but lost hope here? How about you actually go out and interview folks about what worked for them? How about you spend some time in support groups, hearing their stories with open minds and then doing your own research about what they were talking about?

Shame on All of Us! 
 Why? If you are a family member and you decided that you were going to become the answer to save other families from going through the same anguish, great. Not so much if you only have experience in that anguish but have taken no time at all to understand what you are dealing with. If you do not want to invest the time and wait until you actually understand it, don't make it worse for the people you want to help. You are qualified to start a support group for others just like you and that is very much needed. Otherwise, remember, you are heartbreakingly an expert on what failed. Think about what would have helped you help your veteran and then learn all you can about it. It is only by becoming aware of all that comes with PTSD, the different causes, levels and types, that you will be able to begin to put together a team to respond appropriately.
You will encounter veterans in crisis and you need to know what to do, how to talk to them, and above all, who you can call to get them help as soon as possible. You need to know the difference between calling the Crisis Line, 911 and if you should ask for police or the fire department to respond, or when all you need to do is listen.   
You also need to know that once you lose a veteran you were trying to help, no matter how much you knew ahead of time, you do not recover from it.
No matter how many veterans I help, the one I lost over a decade ago is a loss I have never gotten over. My husband's nephew committed suicide because for all I knew, all the research, I did not figure out how to get him to listen. 

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