Thursday, March 14, 2019

"Why didn't they know what would make all this suffering grow?"

Lives on the line, Congress writes more bills but veterans keep paying the price

Combat PTSD Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
March 14, 2019

"Tester introduces veterans' mental health bill named after Helena man" was the headline for yet one more bill named after another veteran/service member who were also failed by previous ones. 
The bill carries Hannon's name because of his service as a Navy SEAL and as an advocate for the National Alliance of Mental Illness in Helena, where he retired after 23 years of military service. Hannon was dealing with post-traumatic stress, a traumatic brain injury, depression and bipolar disorder after he ended his military service. He was active in veterans' issues and helped develop a group therapy for veterans involving rehabilitating birds of prey at Montana Wild. Hannon died by suicide in 2018.
Maybe I have been watching all of this for far too long? I have become so jaded by them that the evaporation of hope forces me to ask, "Why didn't they know what would make all this suffering grow?"

Who was Commander John Scott Hannon?

Scott was open about his invisible wounds of war, and found solace and recovery in many of the causes that also allowed him to give back to his fellow veterans and his community. He was passionate about improving veterans’ access to mental health care and integrating service animals into mental health care. Scott worked closely with Montana Wild and VA Montana to develop a group therapy program for veterans that involved birds of prey. Scott was embraced on his journey to recovery by his family, friends, and community. He died from his invisible wounds of war February 25, 2018.

Ranking Member Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, D.C. in September 2018.

A handout from Tester's office said expanding rural veterans' access to telehealth care and investment in "gender-specific specialists, services, and research" were part of the bill's overarching goals. If passed, the bill would also fund a study to see if there is a higher risk of suicide for veterans living at high altitude. Funding would also provide alternative treatment paths for veterans, including agricultural and animal therapy, yoga, acupuncture and meditation.
While we knew decades ago what works, it seems as if no one bothered to learn any history. It also seems that Senator Tester has not explained why the outcome is still devastating families across the country, especially when in 2009, the Montana National Guard program was touted as the best thing going and pushed across the same nation to address the same problem...veterans and military members killing themselves.
The Montana Guard's Yellow Ribbon program has become a model that the rest of America should adopt, said U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. 
"We're getting terrific responses to the program from the families of our soldiers, but also some great suggestions," said Col. Jeff Ireland, chief of manpower and personnel for the Montana Guard. "For instance, we were told it would be useful to have a special breakout session for spouses.
Ireland said officials believe the session was a great idea. 
"We plan to act on it and other suggestions until we meet all the needs we're aware of," he added. 
With the approval and funding of the National Guard Bureau in Washington, D.C., the Montana National Guard is adding five positions and spending approximately $500,000 to fund the Yellow Ribbon program, Ireland said. 
The core of the program is twofold: mental health assessments every six months after deployment and crisis response teams that can be activated immediately to check out concerns about the emotional wellbeing of a soldier. 
"The genius of the Montana screening model is that it happens every six months," Matt Kuntz, Dana's stepbrother, told the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee last week during testimony in Washington.
Current suicides within the military have also increased...but hey, why bother about reviewing the failures of the past?

So why do we know that suicides in the Veterans' Community have gone up, but even as more members of Congress use the names on more bills, they remain disconnected to what the result of their other efforts produced?

Apparently they have not been notified that current military suicides have also risen.

Rep. Don Young wrote to Lt. Gen. Nadja West requesting an inquiry into suicides at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, The Daily News Miner reported Tuesday. "As the number of military suicides continues to climb in Alaska, it is clear that the battle is far from over."
Advocates, like me, continue to fight to educate them and families, but it is a constant battle because members of Congress have failed to listen to us.

As we watch suicides in every branch and in every state, claim more lives, they have eviscerated all hope we placed upon their shoulders. 

As more and more members of Congress are taking about what they are doing, we are watching to see what they keep repeating and, honestly, we are fed up!
WASHINGTON — A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of its suicide prevention programs touted mostly “positive outcomes” of the efforts even though they didn’t translate into fewer veterans dying by their own hand. Now, as the White House launches a new year-long effort to find solutions to the problem, outside advocates want to make sure that bureaucrats aren’t going to repeat the same mistakes in how they look for those answers.“We’ve already seen four years of wasted time. It’s not a partisan mistake or problem. We’ve see this across administrations. But we seem to be doing the same things over and over again.”  Joe Chenelly, executive director at AMVETS.

But perhaps the most damning part of all of this came with this statement.
“More than 24,000 veterans have died by suicide since the passage of the Clay Hunt Act,” said group National Commander Rege Riley in a statement. “God willing, we won’t be stuck with the same system we have not in 2023, with a new report that highlights only that what (they) keep doing continues not to work.” 
People like me have advising them to do everything that veterans like Clay Hunt did in order to heal, like Scott Hannon, but lost his battle too.
The Senate voted 99-0 to pass the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act on Feb. 3, while the House voted 403-0 in favor of it last month. Obama signed the bill on Thursday...The bill is named after a Marine Corps veteran who killed himself in 2011 after he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder following deployments to Iraq and in Afghanistan. After his service, Hunt volunteered in Haiti to offer relief following the 2010 earthquake, and worked with other veterans who were dealing with the physical and mental tolls of war. He worked to address his own difficulties coping, but lacked adequate resources – he reportedly waited months to see a psychiatrist, and an appeal of his disability rating did not come through until five weeks after his death."By the time the severity of his condition was recognized, it was too late," Obama said. 
One of the first bills was the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act 

Specifically, this Act requires the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop a program that includes screening for suicide risk factors for veterans receiving medical care at all Department facilities, referral services for at-risk veterans for counseling and treatment, designation of a suicide prevention counselor at each Department facility, a 24-hour veterans' mental health care availability, peer support counseling, and mental health counseling program for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military service.
They made all kinds of speeches back then too...but it was signed by President Bush in 2007~

How long will it take before anyone cares that while lives are on the line, more and more members of Congress get applauded for naming bills after the dead they already failed...but veterans keep paying the price with their lives on the line? 

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