Monday, September 1, 2014

What Good Did Suicide Prevention Month Do?

No more excuses, time for living awareness
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 1, 2014
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
Vietnam Veterans of America
Yesterday a buddy of mine and long time reader of Wounded Times said he was sure I was ready to explode and the Bostonian Greek couldn't be held back much longer. I told him I felt like a bottle of Coke dropped on the floor, shaken, waiting to be opened. The twist top was released and I exploded higher than Mentos could have come close to achieving.

Suicide Prevention Month begins today for the troops and veterans but it seems the military leaders have been "SHAKE'n BAKE: an officer straight out of OCS (Officer Candidate School) without any combat experience" yet in charge of taking care of what they do not understand. Simply put, total FUBAR!
FUBAR: short for "Fucked Up Beyond All Repair" or "Recognition." To describe impossible situations, equipment, or persons as in, "It is (or they are) totally Fubar!"

The Defense Suicide Prevention Office for all branches of the military makes it seem as if raising awareness is enough but it isn't. All we have to do is read the suicide reports where year after year, more is done, while more suicides claim more lives.
BOHICA stands for bend over, here it comes again. It is an item of acronym slang which grew to regular use amongst the United States armed forces during the Vietnam War. It is used colloquially to indicate that an adverse situation is about to repeat itself, and that acquiescence is the wisest course of action.

Research by the U.S. Army and the National Institute of Mental Health aims to reduce suicides among America's military and military veterans.

"The suicide rate among soldiers began to rise significantly in 2002, and reached record levels by 2007," says Thomas R. Insel, M.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) director. "The Army has been very proactive in addressing the crisis but, sadly, the suicide rate continues to rise."

In addition to the Army's attempts to reduce the suicide rate and address mental health issues, Dr. Insel notes that in 2008 the Army and the NIMH initiated the Study to Assess Risk and Resilience of Service Members (Army STARRS) to better understand the phenomenon. It is the largest study of its kind ever undertaken.

In addition to suicide, this study is targeting depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Unlike typical research studies, which can take years, Dr. Insel says that data from Army STARRS will be reported at regular intervals throughout the five-year study period. The information will be used to tailor interventions so that the suicide rate drops and soldiers get the help they need as quickly as possible.

"No question. 2009 was a painful year for the Army when it came to suicides," says Col. Christopher Philbrick, deputy director of the Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "We took wide-ranging measures to confront the problem, from servicewide prevention and teaching programs to the Army STARRS initiative with the National Institute of Mental Health."

In 2010, the Army plans to update its suicide prevention training and improve procedures to ensure that soldiers and their families receive the support they need when undergoing key transitions, such as moving to another duty station or separating from the Army.

"This will give us the data we need to better adjust and expand our programs so that we save more lives," adds Philbrick.

Yet more pain was delivered to families across the country when they blamed themselves. After all, how could they blame the military leaders when they were doing so much to prevent suicides?

Pretty much it failed leading up to 2012 with the highest number of suicides as well as attempted suicides. The DOD didn't learn the right lessons and their awareness of the issues facing the troops and veterans went over their heads. In 2012 Army Times had an article about what happened afterwards. New Suicide Prevention Strategy Make Debut
McHugh spoke alongside Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, who released the 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

The strategy has been updated for the first time since 2001. Its priorities include fostering positive public dialogue, countering shame, prejudice, and silence, and building public support for suicide prevention.

The strategy calls attention to the increasing numbers of suicides among troops and veterans, noting an increase in suicide rates in the military in 2006 was driven by the Army and Marine Corps.

In 2010, junior enlisted troops who were white and under 25 years old were at increased risk for suicide relative to those groups in the general population.

The report references efforts at the Defense Department and in the individual services, including the Army's Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training, to prepare designated "gatekeepers" to recognize suicide risk and intervene.

The "gatekeepers" turned out to be bouncers. They bounced out troubled servicemembers with discharges instead of helping them heal.

Disposable Soldiers
Huffington Post
May 29, 2013

As PTSD cases in the military are skyrocketing, so too are discharges for misconduct, where a small infraction could lead to a lifetime loss of much needed benefits. We need to re-evaluate the military discharge system to match current challenges.

So much for promises. In 2013 the Army bounced out 11,000 along with other branches it was yet one more year of getting rid of them while using the word "intervene" covering for their own shameful conduct. By the end of 2013 NPR reported the number of bad conduct discharges in the last 10 years reached 100,000
BCD – Bad Conduct Discharge. Usually spoken as Big Chicken Dinner

Eric Highfill spent five years in the Navy, fixing airplanes for special operations forces. His discharge papers show an Iraq campaign medal and an Afghanistan campaign medal, a good-conduct medal, and that he's a marksman with a pistol and sharpshooter with a rifle.

None of that matters, because at the bottom of the page it reads "Discharged: under other than honorable conditions."

Highfill, a 27-year-old Michigan native, says he got addicted to the painkillers he was taking for a knee injury. In the Navy's eyes, Highfill screwed up. He got a DUI, among other things, and so it kicked him out. And that means when he went to a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, it did the same.

"I went down to the Battle Creek [Mich.] VA and I spoke with the receptionist. She looked at my discharge and said, 'Well, you have a bad discharge. ... Congress does not recognize you as a veteran.' And they turned me away," Highfill says.

Highfill and more than 100,000 other troops left the armed services with "bad paper" over the past decade of war.

But they can't seem to figure out why what they've done hasn't worked?
SNAFU: Situation Normal All Fucked Up
Who are they trying to fool?

When they say that "most of the troops committing suicide" had not been deployed, that is intended to get us thinking they were already "damaged" and lately that is the message they have pushed harder.

The trouble with this is twofold. First, they evaluate recruits. Are they admitting their testing sucks so bad they couldn't identify recruits with "pre-existing" mental health issues before handing them weapons? Secondly there is the issue of their "resiliency training" not being able to keep "non-deployed" from committing suicide, thus totally inept when it came to preventing soldiers from taking their own lives after multiple deployments.
XIN LOI or XOINE LOI: pronounced by GIs as "Sin Loy," meaning 'too bad,' 'tough shit,' 'sorry bout that.' The literal translation is "excuse me."

By July we read the outcome.
Of the 162 confirmed or suspected suicides to date this year for both the active and reserve components, the service breakdown is Army, 71; Air Force, 34; Marine Corps, 21; and Navy, 36.

This time last year, the figures were Army, 85; Air Force, 25; Marine Corps, 26; and Navy, 24.

The Navy is well ahead of its pace at this time last year and in fact is already closing in on its total of 43 for all of 2013.

Now all that is suicide awareness since we are well aware of why they take their own lives.
ZULU: casualty report is never complete

Forget about what the military told you about PTSD since they have had decades of exposure to this simple fact of a soldier's life. Being willing to die for someone else does not come out of someone being mentally weak. It comes from being emotionally strong.

Think about it. Think about the kind of courage it takes to join the military but don't stop there. It also required an abundance of emotional ability to put everything on the line for the sake of someone else.

There was nothing weak about you or anyone you served with and there isn't anything weak about you now. Once you get that, understand where all that pain is coming from, then you begin to heal. Until then you are allowing PTSD to be on a Search and Destroy mission, not just hunting you but everyone in your life.

You can heal and path has already been laid for you. Vietnam veterans carried the tradition of walking point "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another" so if you can't find someone in your generation to explain stuff to you so you feel better instead of worse, find groups with Vietnam Veterans.

Being aware gives you the intel to defeat the last enemy so that you can cover the backs of other veterans searching for a way out of the pain. Heal and help them DEROS all the way home.

Enough bull has been passed down while wasting time filling heads and fueling the forsaken into hopelessness. Over 8,000 veterans succeed at killing themselves while over 12,000 attempt it. What if there were that many lost in Iraq or Afghanistan in a year? These are veterans from all wars, all trying to heal but not finding what they need to do it. On the flip side, thousands more found the way to not just heal for themselves or their families, but search for other veterans to help them.

You did not surrender to the pain you felt during your deployment. You pushed past it because you still had a duty to those you served side by side with. They are waiting for you to take the lead and show them how to survive surviving combat. Don't surrender now.

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