Showing posts with label #TakeBackYourLife. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #TakeBackYourLife. Show all posts

Monday, December 30, 2019

Did PTSD cause your discharge without honor?

'A scarlet letter': Veterans help their fellows overturn bad military discharges

Washington Examiner
by Russ Read
December 30, 2019
“The other than honorable discharge and less than honorable discharge is more punishment, it’s more punitive, than just the name or just getting kicked out of the military," said Marine Corps veteran Thomas Burke. "It’s not just a scarlet letter that you have to put down on an application. It prevents you from reintegrating into society.”

Activist veterans are helping their comrades seek upgrades to so-called "bad paper" military discharges that disqualify them from key benefits that help them re-enter civilian life.

“I think there is a growing sense that something needs to be done," said Kristofer Goldsmith, 34, who advocates on behalf of fellow veterans. Approximately 500,000 living veterans from various wars have been discharged from the military under other than honorable conditions, says Goldsmith, who himself once had "bad paper" from his time in the Army.

Depending on the type of discharge, an "other than honorable" designation can bar former service members from Veterans Affairs healthcare, home loans, and disability payments, and from GI Bill college money. Additionally, the "OTH" discharges confer a stigma that can limit employment opportunities and other aspects of day-to-day life.

The Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017 changed its policy so that former "OTH" service members could get mental health crisis treatment. In 2018, The Honor Our Commitment Act required the VA to provide mental health care to veterans with OTH discharges. Still, advocates say, much remains to be done.
Marine Corps veteran Thomas Burke on patrol in Afghanistan in 2008, followed by local children. Several would be killed while attempting to bring him and his unit an RPG warhead. Courtesy of Thomas Burke.
Thomas Burke

It's something both men know first hand. Burke, now 30, was given an "OTH" discharge following a PTSD-related suicide attempt in 2010. Goldsmith, too, received "bad paper" following his own PTSD-connected attempt to kill himself.
read it here

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

In order to defeat suicide, spread hope instead

How can anyone care about something they do not know?

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 17, 2019

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.” ― Albert Einstein
I no longer cry when someone tells me to give up. I actually feel sorry for the person who will not listen. They believe they are right because they heard something someone else told them. OK, then if they were willing to listen to someone telling them a lie, why are they not willing to listen to someone telling them the truth? It must be easier to admit they did not know anything, than admitting they were lied to, believed it and then spread the lie out to more people.

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in.” ― Isaac Asimov
It happened again! I was contacted by yet another person who said they were raising awareness about veterans committing suicide. It was easy to figure out the person knew nothing about my work or what I knew. He just found me online and wanted to take advantage of someone who may be willing to give him free publicity.

I asked him, "What is the point of telling veterans they are killing themselves?" He responded with, "How can anyone care about something they do not know is happening?" I replied with, "Apparently it happens all the time since you know nothing about what you are raising awareness of."

What can be expected when the news media still supports the notion that talking about what they hear is the truth? In this case, NBC News in Nevada came out with this mind blower!
This anchor says "In Nevada 20 veterans a day are committing suicide, believe it or not." He must have read that on Facebook somewhere!

So we end up with the wrong information getting all the publicity while the truth, that could set them free from misery, is something they never hear. PTSD is a wound and survivors can heal, but someone has to tell them it is possible!
Here is the chart that was mentioned in this video.
And this chart shows how the percentage of suicides went up while people were out there spreading the lie of how many made the choice to die instead of learning how to heal!

They need to hear messages that will empower them to seek healing, #BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Real help vs others helping themselves

Getting wrong kind of help worse than none

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
December 3, 2019

If you are wondering why I could not post on this site for a while, it became impossible to be upbeat and share anything encouraging when we were being tortured for trusting the wrong people.

There are people we think we can count on to help us get to where we want to go. It can be devastating to discover we were wrong.

My husband and I decided to sell our house in Florida so that we could move closer to our daughter in New Hampshire. We turned to "friends" we had known for 15 years to sell it. Worst mistake of our lives!

I found a buyers agent to help us in New Hampshire. Catherine Allen was a stranger turned into a blessing. Our house was not getting much attention and she took a look at the listing. Catherine said the pictures were the biggest part of the problem and so was the price.

When I told our "friend" what Catherine said, that was the last time she took my phone call and would not respond to emails. I had no clue what the hell was wrong with her but what made it worse was what it did to us personally knowing that "friends" would treat us like that. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Playing Candy Crush in the lobby of the VA so you can say you showed up for them?

Having a "fun run" because veterans are killing themselves is repulsive!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 25, 2019

It is heartbreaking when you read about a veteran wanting to do something because he lost buddies he cared about. Noble reasons to want to prevent someone else from committing suicide, dose not mean the endeavor is the right one.

Once again, a veteran lost a buddy after seeing "dark in nature" Facebook posts posts and then a link to Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Cruel World." This suicide was number 7 of his friends. 

What did he decide to do? He decided to host a fundraiser for Mission 22 and have a "fun run" along with a Chinese Silent Auction.
“We just felt like we had to do something, said General Manager Joshua Hawkins of The Firing Pin. “We have never done something like this here. This is our first one and I’m hoping this will turn into something we do every year, and I’m hoping we can raise a lot of money for them.”

The day will feature a 2.2k fun run, with registration starting at 10 a.m. and the run itself an hour later. Food trucks will be available 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with live music from 1 to 4 p.m.

A chinese and silent auction will take place through 5 p.m. while an Eli Fish Brewing Co. craft beer tent will be available 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Raise a lot of money for them? Seriously? Repeating a false number is not worth a dime or anyone's time!

The question raised in the article of "Why aren’t people more aware of suicide among military personnel and veterans?" proved how all these "awareness" stunts do nothing to prevent suicides.

People all over the country have been making veterans aware of something they knew all too well, how to die. What they did not know was how to heal. They still do not even know they can.

There was a time when I abstained from attacked events like this. I thought if they were trying to make a difference, it was better than nothing. The problem is, that is all they are doing. 

They had no knowledge of what was in the reports they quote but worse, they did had no basic knowledge of what was missing from the data. They did not know the history behind decades of earnest efforts to change the outcome, instead of having "fun" events after the fact.

It produces the same result for veterans in crisis as playing Candy Crush in the lobby of the VA so you can say you showed up for them. You may convince yourself you did something for them, but it was a worthless effort that did nothing for them!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

You can defeat PTSD!

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Travis Mills expands to prove veterans are not alone

'You're Not Alone,' Mills Tells Veterans At Suicide Prevention Event

Maine Public Radio
September 17, 2019

Maine Gov. Janet Mills today joined with 30 organizations to call attention to suicide prevention resources for veterans.

Speaking in the State House Hall of Flags, Mills noted that Maine has the highest number of veteran suicides in the Northeast.

“We know that many people, many veterans are suffering, and I want you to know that you’re not alone. Please hear me when I say you are loved, honored, welcomed and not alone,” she said. "In 2016, 29 Maine veterans took their lives. These men and women who faithfully served our state and our nation lost their lives I think needlessly and in a preventable manner. We deeply mourn that loss."

Mills said people needing help can call or text the Veterans Crisis Line or the Maine Crisis Hotline.
read it here

Maine retreat for wounded veterans is ready to expand

The Associated Press
by David Sharp
Monday, September 16th 2019

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A soldier who lost all his limbs after an explosion in Afghanistan and created a retreat to help others like him understands that injuries can run deeper than shattered bones.

So, the Travis Mills Foundation plans to address post-traumatic stress disorder when it embarks on a major expansion of its facility in Rome.

For one week each month, the retreat that opened two years ago will dedicate itself to PTSD recovery by getting participants started in a series called Warrior’s PATHH, operated by a partner. Participants must be willing to commit to the 18-month program that helps veterans recover from the invisible wounds of war.

“There’s no free vacation,” Mills told The Associated Press. “I’ve been able to rebuild myself with true grit and having wonderful people who were there for me. We’re trying to provide a way for them to push forward and to get through it.”

Plans for the $5.4-million expansion, to be unveiled Sunday, also include an addition with a swimming pool and gym equipment, along with the expanded calendar with dozens of weekly PTSD treatment sessions.
read it here

Nashua Police Department breaks silence after Captain's suicide

update Following death of police captain, Nashua creates suicide task force

Nashua police struggle to deal with suicide of colleague

Jennifer Crompton
News Reporter
Sep 12, 2019

Chief says he hopes sharing story will help others 

The Nashua police chief said Thursday his department is struggling to deal with the death of a fellow officer who died by suicide.

Capt. Jonathan Lehto's death was announced Monday, and the Nashua Police Department revealed Thursday that Lehto had taken his own life while visiting family in Seattle. Chief Michael Carignan said colleagues of the 20-year veteran were stunned by his death.

"He was so well respected," Carignan said. "He was an attorney. He got his law degree from Boston University, wanted to be a police officer. He had a stellar career as a detective and a supervisor, so we were struggling with trying to figure out why this happened."

With the family's blessing, Carignan said the department decided not to remain silent.

"The department really felt strongly that if we could be open and honest, that here was an amazing individual, by all accounts," Carignan said. "He took his life through suicide. It could happen to anybody."

Carignan said he grew up with Lehto and had him on his command staff, but he didn't see this coming.

"He was an exceptional attorney. He was an exceptional police officer. He was active on the SWAT team for a number of years," Carignan said. "He just, he was the epitome of what you want as a police officer."

He said suicide is a harsh reality among first responders, who stoically see and deal with so much.

"There's been that mentality of, 'Don't talk about it. Don't talk about it. You're fine. Suck it up,'" Carignan said.
read it here

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Female veterans are 25% more likely to commit suicide

Why women veterans are 25% more likely than civilian women to commit suicide

Military Times
By: Kate Henricks Thomas and Kyleanne Hunter
August 14, 2019

"We missed the sense of unit cohesion and good-natured support we’d so often enjoyed on active duty, and struggled to find that same sense of community in our civilian lives." Kyleanne Hunter
The Women in Military Service to America Memorial, the only national museum honoring military women, celebrated its 15th anniversary on Oct. 20, 2012. (Veterans Affairs)
After four years on active duty, Amy left the Army and moved back to her hometown.

However, she struggled to find her tribe. At work, she was told her handshake was a bit too firm and lectured about how her direct communication style made her coworkers uncomfortable. At her local VFW bar, the men stopped talking to stare at her, and her attempts to connect were met with awkward silences. A few other attempts to connect with the veteran communities she saw advertised at the VA and Facebook left her feeling similarly displaced.

“In both civilian settings and veteran settings, I was ‘weird,’” she recalls.

She explored some of the newer veteran service organizations (VSOs), but most failed to include child care or weren’t kid-friendly. Amy was a single parent, so she mentally crossed those options off her list too. She stayed lonely, and slowly sank into a deep depression.

The very word “veteran” calls to mind the image of a man — particularly a male combat veteran. However, there are more than 2 million women veterans in the United States today, and women veterans are the nation’s fastest-growing veteran population. Unfortunately, this unique population, many of whom have deployed during the past 18 years, rarely benefit from the traditional trappings of the hero returned home.
Kyleanne Hunter was a Cobra pilot and is a decorated combat veteran. I served as military police. We spent our 20s in the Corps, and it quickly became both our family and identity. We each deployed overseas and generally loved our time in service. However, transitioning to civilian life was another matter entirely. We were high performing, but — despite appearing “successful” and “normal” on the outside — we each felt a nagging sense of displacement and not belonging. read it here

corrected must have been a typo in the original report from  Military Times

Friday, July 19, 2019

Jason Kander understands PTSD is not as strong as he is with other veterans

He left politics to treat his PTSD. His new mission? Helping fellow vets

By Kathleen Toner
July 18, 2019

"I was afraid of the stigma. ... But it's just getting worse. So, after 11 years of trying to outrun depression and PTSD symptoms, I have finally concluded that it's faster than me. That I have to stop running, turn around, and confront it." Jason Kander
Jason Kander, former Missouri Secretary of State and U.S. Army veteran

New York (CNN)Last fall, Jason Kander was considered a rising star in the Democratic party.

The U.S. Army combat veteran had served as Missouri's Secretary of State, nearly beaten a Republican incumbent for a U.S. Senate seat in 2016 and was the front-runner in the race for Kansas City mayor. There was even talk of him running for president.

But Kander made headlines when he suddenly dropped out of the race to get treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. In a public letter to his supporters, he admitted it was a step he'd avoided for years.
The treatment helped Kander. So did hanging out at the group's outreach center. "(Before) I didn't make time to hang out with other veterans like maybe I should have because it's been very therapeutic to do that," Kander said. "There's a reason that past generations have been hanging out at VFW halls. There's a comfort in being around fellow combat vets."

Earlier this week, the organization announced that Kander will help lead the nonprofit's national expansion. The group hopes to open eight additional locations across the country by 2022. Kander calls the role his "new mission."

"I was really impressed by everything that VCP does and found it inspiring," Kander said. "Long term, we want to end veteran homelessness nationwide and make sure no veterans fall through the cracks."
read it here

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Veteran called crisis line and lived to heal

Veteran gets life-saving help at VA Clinic

Albany Herald
By J.W. Huckfeldt
Jul 7, 2019
“As soon as I walked into Dublin VA, I was immediately admitted to Urgent Care, where I was treated by a nurse practitioner,” Ridings said. “She knew that I needed help, was determined to provide whatever care I required, and that I couldn’t leave the medical center.”

Greg Swars Albany Herald

DUBLIN — When Emergency Department Nurse Practitioner Kristin Horton logged into her LinkedIn account April 24, she found a message from Ashton Ridings, a former U.S. Army Ranger, who required emergency intervention on April 17. The first line of the letter read, “You guys saved my life.”

“My night terrors left me with three or four sleepless nights, and knew I needed help now,” Ridings said. “I was overwhelmed, my (post-traumatic stress disorder) hit me hard, and this time I couldn’t run or work it off. I felt like suicide was my only option, so I planned it out step-by-step.”

Ridings made up his mind that he was going to die by suicide if he couldn’t find help immediately. He called the Veterans Crisis Line and finally the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center. Ridings thought enrolling in a PTSD program at the medical center would be a step in the right direction.

The Veterans Crisis Line contacted the Dublin VAMC Emergency Department informing the staff Ridings, who was suffering from severe PTSD, would be presenting sometime that day.
read it here

Sunday, June 23, 2019

It is the reason I became a Chaplain back in 2008

The deepest dashboard

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
June 23, 2019

Why do responders suffer a deeper level of PTSD? Is it because they are exposed over and over again to traumatic events? Or is it because they have the "one time too many" hit them?

After decades of research, it became clear that for responders, it is more about the strength of their emotional core that makes causes the hardest hit.

It is the reason I became a Chaplain back in 2008. I trained to respond to responders knowing that the very thing inside of them causing them to take on those jobs, also caused them the greatest harm.

Oh, no, not all bad news, because that same emotional core holds the power to heal.
This video was done for National Guards and Reservist...the IFOC gave me an award for it because they were using it to help police officers and firefighters. It is called PTSD I Grieve for that reason.
read more here

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Fighting for veterans begins at home!

Fighting for the love of Jack...and everyone else

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 15, 2019

Last week I sat down with Sgt. Dave Matthews of Remember the Fallen radio show on KLRN.

Dave wanted to talk about my book, For the Love of Jack, His War My Battle.

The copyright was issued in 2002. It was republished on Amazon in 2012 for the 10th anniversary. Republishing it was extremely hard on me. 

Our lives are so much different than what they were back then. That was the point of writing this in the first place. All lives can change.

PTSD is change. It comes from being a victim of circumstance and changing into a survivor of something that tried to killed you. No shame in that but it is very telling that too many still want to cling to the thoughts they have something to be ashamed of.

What's up with that? I survived 10 times as just a civilian and there is no shame in me at all. I beat what tired to kill me and was not about to allow any of those times to define any part of my future.

It was the same with fighting PTSD in my home. I was not going to allow it to define my family.

You need to remember that when I wrote the book, no one was doing any "awareness" other than families like mine while we were America's secret war.

Listen to what families like mine have been talking about for decades and then ask yourself why have you been ignoring what is necessary to change the outcome?

Remember the Fallen on KLRN Wounded Times

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Sgt. John Rikard of the Asheville Police Department was gone

After Husbands' Suicides, 'Best Widow Friends' Want Police Officers To Reach For Help

June 9, 2019

Nicole Rikard's husband, John Rikard, died by suicide in 2015. She talks with three other widows of police suicide every day.

Nicole Rikard had recently married Sgt. John Rikard of the Asheville Police Department in North Carolina. He had an 8-year-old son, Tucker, from a previous marriage. From the time Nicole and John started dating, they had scarcely been apart.

Soon after they married, however, Nicole had to go to Florida for some work training — she was a crime scene investigator in the same police department. John worked an overnight shift and would call her when he woke up to check in.

But one day, John wasn't answering her texts. Nicole heard from a colleague that he hadn't shown up for work either.

Stuck hundreds of miles away in Florida, Nicole got on the phone with John's colleagues in Asheville. She told the police to break into their house.

Thirty-six agonizing minutes went by. Nicole was vomiting in the shower.

She finally got a phone call from one of John's lieutenants.

"Well, John is gone. And it appears to be self-inflicted," the lieutenant told her.

"And I said, 'What the f*** are you talking about?'"

Friday, June 7, 2019

NYPD message delivered after loss of 2 officers to suicide in 24 hours

A Police Chief’s Suicide, Then Painful Questions in ‘Hushed Tones’

Friends said Deputy Chief Steven J. Silks took his life not out of despair from his job, but the prospect of losing it.

update Missing NYPD homicide detective Joe Calabrese found dead of suicide at Brooklyn beach

update NYPD mourning veteran chief who killed himself ahead of mandatory retirement

Two NYPD officers died by suicide in 24 hours. The commissioner has a message for America's largest police force

By Shimon Prokupecz
Updated 6:20 AM ET, Fri June 7, 2019
"Seeking help is never a sign of weakness -- it's a sign of great strength. Trained members will listen and connect you with even more help, around the clock. I implore you to seek out -- or to help others find -- the assistance that is so readily available to us all." Commissioner James O'Neill
Police are lit by flashing lights as they stand in formation while the casket of slain New York City Police (NYPD) officer Randolph Holder is carried from the Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York following his funeral service in the Queens borough of New York City, October 28, 2015. Holder's funeral comes more than a week after he was shot to death while on patrol in New York City's East Harlem neighborhood. He is the fourth New York City officer to be killed on duty in the last 12 months. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

New York (CNN)Two members of the New York Police Department died by suicide within the course of 24 hours, Commissioner James O'Neill said Thursday.

In a note to members of the department, he encouraged individuals to seek help, if needed.

The NYPD is the largest police department in the United States, with approximately 36,000 officers and 19,000 civilian employees.

O'Neill's message reads in full:
"We are mourning the death of two members of our NYPD family this week, both of whom died by suicide in separate incidents less than 24 hours apart.

"Whether you are depressed, going through a separation, having financial difficulties, feeling anxiety, or anything else, you are never alone. Nothing is ever hopeless.

"We cannot hide from this incredibly important discussion. We must not pretend that these things don't happen, or that such tragic deaths are somehow a fact of life. Importantly, we cannot sit idly by and just pray that they don't happen again. We have to take action now. We have to discuss mental health.
read more here

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Friday, May 31, 2019

Florida veteran saved from suicide marking D Day as alive day

'We Saved the World.' Veteran saved from suicide ready to mark D-DAY's 75th

First Coast News
Author: Jeannie Blaylock
May 30, 2019

Kevin Crowell, a veteran himself, will jump from a plane in Normandy on the 75th Anniversary of D-DAY to honor his fellow veterans from 1944.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Kevin Crowell stands in awe of the soldiers, paratroopers, and sailors who fought on D-DAY in Normandy. "We saved the world. We saved the world from tyranny," he says in reference to the might of the American military effort on June 6th, 1944.

Crowell says it's his time to say thank you to the young men who volunteered to fight off Hitler. "And think of this," Crowell says. "The Americans who died left their homes and left their farms and left their families and left their town to fly across a giant ocean and go serve."

Crowell is particularly focused on the paratroopers. Some 13,000 American paratroopers jumped behind enemy lines to clear the canals, bridges, and gun nests of the Germans to enable the soldiers' assault onto the Beaches.

According to Dr. Rob Citino, Senior Historian for The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the paratroopers were critical. "They discombobulated the Germans."

Crowell is fired up about making a jump this D-DAY in a drop zone in Normandy. As a veteran member of the 82nd Airborne himself, he says he's practiced jumping in replica drop zones at Ft. Bragg. Now, in France, he'll jump into the real ones.

Crowell is also celebrating his own personal victory. He came home from Iraq to face a major struggle with PTSD. He'd seen his buddies blown up in an IED attack. He even planned a suicide attempt.

It failed, though. "I passed out and found myself the next morning. I felt it was my second chance." He says his service dog, Bella, from K9s for Warriors is a huge factor to his turning his life completely around. Bella even wore a cap and gown at Crowell's college graduation.
read more here

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Top Marine changing the PTSD conversation after 77 suicides and 354 attempted it

Top Marine Makes Plea to End Suicide, Says 'Zero Shame' in Admitting Problem
By Gina Harkins
24 May 2019
"We are all 'broken' in our own way -- and we all need help at times," Neller said. "It is critical we understand and respect that."
The Marine Corps insignia is visible behind Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller as he takes questions from reporters at the unveiling of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaign engravings on the USMC War Memorial (Iwo Jima), Nov. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"Marines are in a fight to save their fellow comrades, and they must approach that fight with the same intensity they apply to other battles," he added. In the nearly four years Commandant Gen. Robert Neller has led the Marine Corps, the service has lost a rifle company-worth of Marines to suicide, and he says it's time to have a frank conversation about what's causing that.

Active-duty suicide rates in the Navy and Marine Corps reached a 10-year high last year. Seventy-seven active-duty and Reserve Marines died by suicide in 2018, and another 354 attempted it.

It's clear that Marines are struggling, Neller wrote in a letter to the force this week, and it's time to be honest about stress and trauma causing them mental stress.

"Let me be clear up front, there is zero shame in admitting one's struggles in life -- trauma, shame, guilt or uncertainty about the future -- and asking for help," he said in a two-page letter about mental illness addressed to Marines, sailors and their families.

Neller accompanied the letter with a raw video posted to social media in which he tells Marines that life is tough, just as being a Marine is tough. "Nobody said this was going to be easy, but you can deal with this. It has to be dealt with."

"Let us help," Neller added. "... If you can't do something, then OK fine. Your buddy's there to do it. And if your buddy can't help you, then we'll take you to a higher echelon of care."

"There's nothing wrong with that," he adds.
read more here

Thursday, May 23, 2019

THE LIFE LESSON that grasped my soul was born amid the throes of war

“The Instrument of Your Fate”

Harvard Magazine
"Forrest Hollifield and I are flying this mission together to help and heal others. Only veterans who know the randomness of death in combat can truly appreciate the old adage that life is a gift. That is why it is called the present."
At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Joe Brett—veteran and Harvard Kennedy School alumnus—addresses Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet-Afghan War. He writes, “I gave them a pin of my old unit, 24th Corps, which happens to be a blue heart on a white shield…or in this case a symbol for peace. We all wept when I gave this out with the words that it was up to us to all work for peace, now that we have met each other as brothers at this memorial…One former Soviet colonel hugged me and, with tears in his eyes, said that all soldiers should be veterans.” Photograph courtesy of Joe Brett
THE LIFE LESSON that grasped my soul was born amid the throes of war: If one does not manage the instrument of his fate, it will manage him.

Wars have always produced wounds and soldiers have always suffered depression, and even committed suicide, as a result. These deep, often fatal, wounds are not always physical. Mental and emotional trauma—referred to as moral wounds—have emerged as a separate category of serious wartime injury. More than 7,000 veteran suicides a year speak to this truth, yet we have not fully embraced the reality.

I am surprised to find myself a typical case study for veterans with moral wounds, not because I am unique but because I am no different than any other veteran who had to face a moment of complete moral and spiritual collapse. My future was set in motion in Vietnam on July 30, 1970.

I was an aerial artillery observer/forward air controller—everyday hunters who killed our enemy by directing artillery, bombs, and napalm on them. Our job was to also count the kills, as that was Defense Secretary Robert McNamara‘s matrix for winning the war, and the basis of promotions for career officers.Pulitzer Prize-winning author and war correspondent David Wood tells us that if a soldier kills another soldier in combat, he or she has a 40 percent higher risk of suffering a moral wound. (If a civilian is killed, the percentage is even higher.)

That July, I was a few weeks from heading home. I felt my assigned pilot was too much of a daredevil for my “old guy,” cautionary status, so I casually switched flights with a nice, newer lieutenant, Forrest Hollifield. The benefit to Forrest was that I took the dawn patrol. He got to sleep later, and I got the pilot I preferred. The completely unexpected happened when his pilot killed them both doing a stunt on takeoff. When my pilot and I landed, I saw the body bags being zipped up. My only thought was that it should have been me.
read more here

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Other than honorable way to treat combat veterans

Lawmakers demand change after KING 5 reveals VA fumble left veterans without help

KING 5 News
Author: Taylor Mirfendereski
May 21, 2019
Members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that increases access to mental health care for veterans say the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs hasn't done enough to implement it.

SEATTLE — Several current and former members of Congress who championed a 2018 law that makes a vulnerable group of veterans eligible for mental health care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs are calling for change after a KING 5 story revealed the VA mishandled the program's roll out.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, said Tuesday that she's concerned about the VA's failure to reach other-than-honorable veterans who qualify for mental health treatment under the law, which Congress passed in March 2018 to reduce suicides among the group of veterans who previously were largely ineligible for care.

"Obviously I am not happy with how the VA has implemented the law," said Murray, who co-sponsored the legislation. "It is their responsibility. It is our responsibility for oversight, which we are following this very closely on."

Nationwide, less than one percent of veterans with other-than-honorable discharges received mental health treatment at the VA last year, according to data provided by a VA spokeswoman.

Congress set a 180-day deadline for the VA to notify eligible veterans about the change, but it took the agency nearly a year after the law passed to make direct contact with veterans who qualified for care.
read more here

And what type of veteran is included in all of this?

'The Army Broke Him'
SHELTON -- Kord Ball dug out his wrinkled Army uniform from a pile of clothes inside his Shelton trailer.

And for the first time in months, the disheveled staff sergeant mustered up the energy to shave and get a haircut.

That September 2018 morning was one of Ball's last days in the U.S. Army, after a decorated 10-year military career. But the 27-year-old didn't leave the service on good terms.

Army leaders at Joint Base Lewis McChord kicked Ball out of the service for misconduct because he failed a drug test for marijuana. He received an other-than-honorable discharge, which strips away his right to access veteran benefits, including long-term health care from the Department of Veteran Affairs.

But records show the behavior that got Ball in trouble was directly related to his diagnosed anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder -- medical conditions brought on by his military service. And now, the veteran doesn't have a right to access the long-term medical benefits he needs to heal.
read more here

If you were kicked out instead of helped to heal, tell your story so that this BS stops! The only way they get away with treating those who serve like this is to remain silent!

#BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife