Thursday, September 5, 2013

A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight
Huffington Post
John Henry Parker
Co-Founder, Purple Star Veterans and Families (PSVF)
Posted: 09/05/2013

If you were duck hunting, when do you load your guns... When you see the ducks? Of course not.

By the time Homecoming Veterans who need the help the most end up on the doorsteps of their families, for many, it's already too late.

The solution: Help Veterans before they become Veterans. Help them better prepare for homecoming during the critical months prior to separation from military service and during the dangerous months after they arrive home.

The Decompression Dilemma

The entire military and VA heath systems are operating with a major disconnect for Veterans and their families. A "Catch 22" exists for Veterans who are suffering the most from PTSD and other Combat related mental health issues. It is a major contributing factor to not only Veteran suicide but it explains some of the underlying reason why Veterans and their families are spiraling out of control and falling between the cracks of our society. The "Catch 22": Warriors are trained to accomplish their mission or to die trying. Adapt, improvise and overcome is the ethos that is galvanized into their being. This Spartan code has been trained into young men and women of every nation since before Homer wrote the Iliad. Remember the old saying? "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

Here's the problem with this "when the going gets tough" mentality. Warriors who need help the most are unwilling or incapable of asking for it. The catch 22, All VA mental health services are voluntary and the only way to get help after separating from the military is to ask for it. Even worse, there are real and perceived "barriers to care" that are additional roadblocks to getting the care they need:
Self reliance at all cost

Fear of being stigmatized by their peers or superiors as being weak.

Fear of having documentation of psychological counseling in their medical records that could prevent future promotions or civilian employment.

A strong reluctance to talk about their problems with counselors, especially if they are non-Veteran counselors.
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