Commandos to Counselors: A response to the special operations forces mental health crisis
By: John Hollis
February 14, 2019
This is a fight and the creeds that we live by dictate that we never go into a fight unprepared. As with any mission, we need to train, organize, and prepare in order to succeed. Interventions are already being undertaken on an informal basis through social networks of SOF veterans.
There is a growing mental health crisis among members of the U.S. Special Operations Forces community that is not being adequately addressed.
On Feb. 2, 2019, CNN reported that suicides among those currently serving with U.S. Special Operations Command tripled last year. Although data specific to SOCOM veterans is not currently available, a recent study by the VA found that, between 2005 and 2015, veteran suicides increased 25.9 percent.
While the precise scope of the problem among SOF veterans remains unclear, anyone with access to forums like the closed social media groups that serve as an ad hoc support system for the community can see that the situation is getting worse. The most effective solution to this national crisis requires the direct involvement of SOF veterans trained to provide mental health services to their comrades.
After leaving active duty and transitioning back to civilian life, many SOF veterans struggle with serious mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress and depression. In the context of this difficult transition from the battlefield to the home front, a mindset that fosters success in the world of special operations can become a double-edged sword. Fighting through injuries and ignoring pain to complete the mission may be what is required in the short term, but insistence on our own invincibility over the long term can prove fatal.
read more here
Something like this is very much needed. When you look back at the way it was years ago, it is obvious that even after all the publicity PTSD had gained over the years, the end result is, more have lost their lives to suicide.
This is about attempted suicides, yet one more thing that does not get discussed enough. It is not from the VA but from the National Institute of Health.
During 1993-1998, 10,163 veterans were treated and discharged at a VA medical center after a suicide attempt (mean age = 44 years; 91% male).That was reported in 2011.
The DOD has been doing their own reporting on attempted suicides too. This report is from 2016.
Incidence of Attempted Suicide Over the course of CY 2016, 1,263 non-fatal suicide attempts were identified. The associated DoDSER reports provided data on suicide attempts for 1,218 unique individuals. A total 1,182 had a single suicide-attempt reported; 36 had two or more suicide attempts reported, dating back to 2010. The median number of days between the most recent suicide attempt and the penultimate attempt was 82 days.
And this is part of the report from CNN about Special Forces Suicides.
Washington (CNN)Suicides among active duty military personnel assigned to US Special Operations Command tripled in 2018, in a disturbing and as yet unexplained spike, CNN has learned.The good thing is that a lot more people are not willing to wait for our government to do something about all of this.
Special Operations units saw 22 deaths by suicide in 2018, almost triple the eight cases seen in 2017, according to figures provided to CNN by the command.
SOCOM, as it's known, is the unified combatant command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations component of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force that take on counterterrorism and other specialized missions.
Based in Tampa, Florida, the command includes some of the military's most highly trained and effective fighting forces, including the Army's Delta Force and the Navy's SEAL Team Six.
While sudden spikes in suicide rates have been noted in both the military and civilian populations, military officials who spoke to CNN said what has happened at SOCOM is striking. The surge in SOCOM suicides comes as the Marine Corps and Navy are experiencing 10-year highs in the number of suicide deaths.
Much like we knew more than they know now, we learned the hard way in the 80's and I learned from people who were doing this in the 70's.
So why is no one listening to any of us? Do they think PTSD has changed?