Sunday, April 14, 2019

Veterans public suicides undercounted

When will reporters stop skipping other veterans?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2019

When the article on The Washington Post went viral, most people thought that it was horrible, but they thought it was accurate as well.

February 7, 2019
The parking lot suicides Veterans are taking their own lives on VA hospital campuses, a desperate form of protest against a system that they feel hasn’t helped them.
His death is among 19 suicides that occurred on VA campuses from October 2017 to November 2018, seven of them in parking lots, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

It wasn't.

I contacted the reporter, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and complained that she got it wrong. There were too many missing. She believed what the VA told her, instead of actually doing research to find out how many were missing from their data.

December 17, 2018, I posted how there had been at least 27 veterans committing suicide in very public ways. Most of them were at VA facilities. I use "at least" because they are not all reported in the newspapers or on local news stations. I am sure I missed some.

It is happening again. 

First came the headline about two veterans committing suicide at VA facilities in Georgia.  

Then they added on another veteran who committed suicide in Texas.

What about the other one who committed suicide in Florida?

Brieux Dash hanged himself March 14 at the VA Medical Center in Riviera Beach.
The U.S. Army veteran had a military family by blood and another by marriage. He joined after high school and went twice into combat. And came home with post-traumatic stress syndrome.The Palm Springs man raised a family of three and was able to graduate college. But his demons were gaining on him.
Or this veteran who had been given a ride by Jimmy Johns, which did make national news?

Greg Holeman "Army veteran who served as a mechanic, fatally shot himself inside his pickup truck on the night of February 25, a Platte County Sheriff's Office lieutenant told KETV NewsWatch 7. The 48-year-old was parked outside of the Columbus Community Hospital's emergency department.

Those suicides did not make national news with the others. One more example of how the media forgot it is their job to actually research what they are claiming to be factual.

I find these stories because I care. When will they care enough to get this right? They are also still pushing the "22 a day" slogan instead of investigating what we know. 

To our veterans, you do matter and the deaths of the other veterans who committed suicide in public did it for a reason. While it was the wrong way to fight for the rest of you, that is why they chose to do it in the open where no one could cover it up.

If you want to make a difference for others to, do it the right way!

If your VA is not living up to the needs of veterans in your community, contact the hospital administrator and complain. If that fails, go to the media. 

If your local charity is taking in money but shutting the door on veterans needing help, contact the head of it. If that fails, contact the media.

If you are not getting the help you need, contact the media.

As much as I complain when they get the report wrong, they hold power to put public pressure on what is wrong. Hell, think of it this way. It is one way to make them do their jobs and get something fixed so that you can live to see it happen!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

UPDATE April 18, 2019

In this article,
Legislation to address uptick of veteran suicides at VA facilities
Three veterans took their lives at VA facilities this month.
There is this, which is good.
The legislation would require the VA to notify Congress of any suicide or suicide attempt and the name of the VA facility and location where the event occurred, no later than seven days after it happens. Sixty days after the event, the VA would be required to provide even more information to Congress, including the enrollment status of the veteran, with respect to the patient enrollment system at the VA, and the most recent encounter between the veteran and any employee or facility of the Veterans Health Administration before the suicide or attempted suicide occurred.
And then there is this, which is bad.
Between October 2017 and November 2018, there were 19 suicides on VA campuses -- seven in parking lots -- according to AMVETS.

AMVETS Executive Director Joseph Chenelly said that suicides at VA facilities "appear to be protests of last resort where health care systems, treatment programs, and the underlying cultures of the responsible federal agencies have failed them."

Aside from totally ignoring other veterans committing suicide in public, since they did not happen on VA property. In total we found 27 public suicides in 2018. Among them, there were these suicides on VA property.

John Cochran VA Medical
Phoenix VA Chapel
Topeka VA, VA employee
Misawaka VA
Minneapolis VA
Nashville VA
Bay Pines

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