Showing posts with label Department of Defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Department of Defense. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

'Mental health is health. Period.'

'Mental health is health. Period.' Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin decries stigma in message to troops

USA TODAY
Tom Vanden Brook
July 26, 2021
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin expressed deep concern about suicide among troops during a visit to U.S. forces stationed in Alaska where there has been an alarming spike in those deaths.

At least six soldiers have died by probable suicide in Alaska since Dec. 30, and suicide is suspected in several others, USA TODAY has reported. That surge has followed several years of increases in suicide deaths among troops across the armed services.

In 2018, 326 active-duty troops died by suicide, with the toll increasing to 350 in 2019 and 385 in 2020, according to the most recent Pentagon figures. The number of suicide deaths fluctuates over time as investigations establish the cause of death.
read more here

'He deserves to have justice': In memory of their son, parents fight for mental health services in the military

Arizona Republic
Andrew Favakeh
July 15, 2021
Brandon Caserta was one of 325 active-duty service members who died by suicide in 2018, and one of 68 sailors, according to military data. Suicides have risen since then. In 2019, 348 active-duty service members died by suicide. In 2020, that number rose to 377.
Teri and Patrick Caserta bought a new car and drove it from Peoria to Washington, D.C., in the summer of 2019.

They scheduled appointments with members of Congress and went door to door through Capitol office buildings to gain support for the Brandon Act, a bill they created in honor of their son.

Brandon Caserta died by suicide three years ago while stationed in the Navy in Norfolk, Virginia.

He could not get the help he needed. Normally, sailors have to report their mental health issues to their commanding officer, who then initiates the referral. Or, if sailors do bypass normal routine and report straight to a mental health official, that mental health official has an obligation to tell their commanding officers.

If a service member mentions the Brandon Act, that would be the safe phrase that would trigger a confidential referral for mental health treatment. Service members who experience mental health issues would receive care without having to notify their command.
read more here

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Calling on angels

Wounded Times
PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 15, 2021

Today my heart is broken. Two reports about the suicides in the military and veterans community reminded me of the reason I had to give up working with both groups after 38 years. I could not fight alone anymore. Telling the truth and saying what had to be said to save their lives was no longer possible without ripping my heart out on and daily basis.
Despite Congress' efforts and an ever-rising VA budget, there's no evidence the federal government has put a dent in the veteran suicide crisis, with the VA's data showing little change in the suicide numbers each year. (Military.com)

Military suicides are also higher. "The report from the Department of Defense shows our military saw a spike in people taking their own lives. In total, 377 active duty troops took their own life in 2020, across all branches of the military. This is an increase of 8% from the same time in 2019." but when you actually read the report, you notice that the numbers in the following article do not include the 194 "Reserve Components" that are included in the Department of Defense Suicide Report. 511, which has been consistently the average since 2012. If you find that hard to believe, since the media hasn't told you that part, then look at the whole chart on the link and add the two totals together.
"Your mental health impacts more than just you, it impacts everybody around you. And those are things we have to be aware of. You may not want to get help for you but what about for your daughter or for your son. What about for your mother or your brother who has to deal with the things that you were going through," said Williams." (Porsche Williams, the founder of Restore Life Global WUSA9 News)
It became all too clear that the only groups getting support were ranting about "raising awareness" that they were killing themselves. No plans, no facts, just saying it was happening and they ended up getting all the support while leaving people reminded that others gave up too. As if that was going to work when they needed reasons to get up in the morning. They needed hope and they needed the truth, but these groups did not have a clue what they were talking about...but they sure knew how to get attention for themselves.

I do not want to be contacted by one more group wanting money for what they do with results like this. No one should be giving them any attention at all when the results has proven over and over again, hasn't "put a dent in the crisis."

I asked for help from many groups and offered to let them take the credit for what I was willing to show them how to do. They turned me down. Over and over again, I tried to contact members of Congress but they would not listen. I wrote and wrote even more, but thousands of articles later, none of them did much good. Wounded Times has over 4.8 million page views, yet there are few people telling the truth about what has been going on. I have over 700 videos on YouTube and few bother to watch them or share them. 

I am willing to get back into this fight again but only if angels decide to fight with me. I won't fight this alone again. My heart cannot take it. I know what it is like to save lives and trust me, if I can do it, it isn't rocket science. It requires knowledge and doing it for the right reasons. I am calling on angels to help me this time, so all of us can help them heal.
Calling All Angels
Train 

I need a sign to let me know you're here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
'Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you feel the world shake from the words that are said
And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels
And I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up
I won't give up if you don't give up
I need a sign to let me know you're here
'Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me
And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels
When children have to play inside so they don't disappear
While private eyes solve marriage lies 'cause we don't talk for years
And football teams are kissing Queens and losing sight of having dreams
In a world that what we want is only what we want until it's ours
And I'm calling all angels
And I'm calling all you angels
And I'm (I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all angels (I won't give up if you don't give up)
And I'm (I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels (I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels (I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels (I won't give up if you don't give up)
Calling all you angels (I won't give up if you don't give up)

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: James Stafford / Scott Underwood / Pat Monahan / Charles Colin
Calling All Angels lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC 

I started doing videos on PTSD in 2006. The first suicide awareness I did was in 2007 because I thought all that people needed to save lives, was to know it was happening. Putting the video and post together, ripped my heart out, but it was important. I wrote a book about suicides tied to military in 2013 proving all the money and "efforts" did not work, and why they did not work. It didn't do any good.

I did the video Alive Day in 2012 when the reports started coming out. This is what they need to know and this is how we do it!

If you are raising awareness about them killing themselves, you are part of the reason they are gone!

Friday, April 10, 2020

34 Air Force personnel have died by suicide as of March 31

Air Force sees small dip in suicides compared to same period last year


Air Force Times
Diana Stancy Correll
April 4, 2020
Of those who have died by suicide this year, 30 were male and four were female. Twenty were enlisted personnel, eight were officers and six were Air Force civilians.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Kaleth Wright announced a one-day stand down to discuss resiliency and suicide prevention in a video released Aug. 1, 2019. (DVIDS)
The Air Force saw a small drop in total force suicides for the first quarter of 2020 when measured against this point of the year in 2019, according to the service.

The Air Force reported a total of 34 Air Force personnel have died by suicide as of March 31, including 20 active duty airmen. That number is down from the 41 suicides the Air Force reported across the entire force the end of March last year, officials said.
read it here

Friday, March 27, 2020

COVID-19 Veterans in the news

Veteran news during Coronavirus



V.A. Criticized for Effort to Keep Some Veterans Away From Private Care During Outbreak


New York Times
By Jennifer Steinhauer
March 25, 2020

By Wednesday morning, the White House sought to correct the impression that the department was putting a pause on the Mission Act.
Robert L. Wilkie, the secretary of veterans affairs.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times
WASHINGTON — An effort by the Department of Veterans Affairs to prevent some veterans from seeking health care outside its centers drew heavy criticism from lawmakers and a vocal Fox News ally of the president, who suggested the department’s bureaucracy could undermine a signature program of President Trump’s term.

That program, known as the Mission Act, permits veterans to seek primary care and mental health services outside the department’s system if they can prove they must drive at least 30 minutes to a Department of Veterans Affairs facility. The network of private providers and urgent care centers had been slowly expanding this year as those standards went into effect.

But concerns arose that at-risk veterans seeking outside care could expose themselves to the coronavirus or tax strained private health care resources.
read it here

The VA Told Employees to Keep Coming to Work – Now Several Have the Coronavirus


Voice of San Diego
“It just feels like no one is looking out for us,” one of the employees said. Voice of San Diego is withholding the names of individual employees because they fear retaliation from their employer.

Employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs in San Diego say they’re not being allowed to work remotely and have been required to use personal leave in order to quarantine themselves at home – even as several employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and many others await test results.

Voice of San Diego spoke with more than a dozen employees from multiple departments in the regional VA.

Employees in departments like mental health and social work, which are doing most of their work by phone and by video, have been asked to come in, despite employee requests to work remotely. Employees who wanted to quarantine or were told by their doctor to do so said they were forced into an unappealing dilemma: Either use annual leave or take time off unpaid, or come into the office to work.
read it here

Army says more than 9,000 retired medics, nurses, and docs want to help with the COVID-19 response


Task and Purpose
The U.S. Army said Thursday that more than 9,000 retired soldiers in healthcare fields had expressed interest in coming back on active duty to help with the response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

"The initial response has been very positive," the service said in an emailed statement.

The Army sent notifications on Wednesday to more than 800,000 former soldiers to gauge their willingness to help with the response to COVID-19 as cases have surged over the past week in the United States.
read it here

Hospitals, health centers, veterans to get relief in coronavirus stimulus bill


Roll Call
A health care professional applies a swab at a drive-thru coronavirus testing facility for residents who have an order from a provider on Quincy Street in Arlington, Va., on Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Impact on veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs, meanwhile, would receive $19.6 billion — including $3.1 billion to bolster IT operations and telehealth — along with additional authorities tied to expanded veteran assistance and worker pay.
The VA serves as the back-up medical system for the nation’s hospitals and is already aiding facilities in the New York City area.

The VA has confirmed 365 veteran cases as of Wednesday, with four deaths.

The department is separately proposing to suspend routine referrals to private doctors as laid out under a 2018 law, according to a memo sent to Hill staff Tuesday. VA spokeswoman Christina Mandreucci said the policy aligns with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines to defer elective procedures.
read it here

Friday, March 20, 2020

DoD: Ready to respond to COVID-19 with ships, respirators, ventilators and crews!

DoD poised to provide supplies to combat virus


Fort Hood Sentinel
By C. Todd Lopez, DoD News
Mar 19, 2020

WASHINGTON — As part of the president’s whole-of-government approach to fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Defense Department has agreed to provide medical supplies and capabilities to the Department of Health and Human Services to help combat further infections, Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper said.

The Defense Department will make available up to 5 million respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from its strategic reserves to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution, Esper said during a news conference at the Pentagon today, adding that the first million masks would be made available immediately.

Esper said some 2,000 deployable ventilators would also be made available to HHS. Those devices, he said, are different from civilian equivalents and will require special training for civilian users, so DoD personnel likely will provide that training.

To help measure the spread of the coronavirus, the Defense Department has also made 14 certified testing labs available to test non-DoD personnel, and two labs would be added to that total, the secretary said.

Additionally, Esper said, DoD officials are considering use of the National Guard, the Reserve components, and capabilities such as the Navy’s hospital ships USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy. He said the Comfort is undergoing maintenance now and the Mercy is in port.
read it here

Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) departs Naval Base San Diego in support of Pacific Partnership 2018 (PP18) on Feb. 23, 2018. US Navy Photo


This video is from 2014 and but shows what the USNS Mercy crew is prepared to do.
Sailors describe their jobs and responsibilities aboard USNS Mercy.

UPDATE

The US Navy hospital ship Comfort that President Trump said would be dispatched to New York

Saturday, March 14, 2020

DOD was not ready to test deployed troops for COVID-19 and still not testing!

‘No availability’ of coronavirus tests for troops in Afghanistan


Roll Call
By John M. Donnelly
Posted March 13, 2020
The committee has asked Defense Department officials similar coronavirus questions about U.S. troops stationed or deployed in or near other risk countries in addition to Afghanistan. The committee is still waiting for replies, an aide said.

In a March 11 letter to Pentagon and National Guard leaders, Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin asked if testing is available in Afghanistan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
U.S. troops in Afghanistan are not being tested for the novel coronavirus, U.S. military officials told the House Armed Services Committee.

There is “no availability of testing for COVID-19” for troops there, a U.S. Central Command representative told the committee in a March 12 statement made available by the committee on Friday.
Members of Congress are particularly concerned about the nearly 13,000 troops in Afghanistan because many of them are deployed near Iran.

Iran has more than 11,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the third most in the world behind China’s 80,000-plus cases and Italy’s more than 15,000, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Many U.S. troops are stationed in Italy.

South Korea, another nation with a substantial U.S. military presence, has nearly 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the fourth most in the world.
read it here

Sunday, March 8, 2020

7,000 US soldiers exposed to Russian toxic dump at K2 Uzbekistan

DOD, VA asked to address allegations saying base made soldiers sick


KCTV News
By Angie Ricono, Zoe Brown
Mar 6, 2020
“The response from the Department of Defense (DOD) has been inadequate. Veterans who deployed to K2 in Operation Enduring Freedom served bravely in defense of the United States, yet many of them have not received answers to their legitimate questions about the potential hazards they may have been exposed to while deployed there.”
The United States House Oversight Committee wants the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to respond to allegations that a military base made U.S. soldiers sick.
FAIRWAY, KS (KCTV) -- The United States House Oversight Committee wants the Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to respond to allegations that a military base made U.S. soldiers sick.
This concerns Karshi-Khanabad or “K2” in what is now Uzbekistan. Veterans say that base was a toxic waste dump for the Russians.

They said they immediately noticed bad smells and black goo around the base. There were glowing green ponds of water they called “Skittles ponds” because the color was so intense.

K2 has been the focus of previous investigative reports at KCTV5 because a local veteran is collecting information on sickness and death.
The letters point out soldiers from K2 are filling out questionnaires and are already aware of 30 deaths among the 7,000 soldiers who served there. Those deaths are mostly cancer related.
read it here

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Vice Adm. Scott "Sterno" Stearney gave no warning signs before committing suicide

The Navy’s investigation into Vice Adm. Scott Stearney’s suicide


Navy Times
Geoff Ziezulewicz
February 25, 2020
The investigation instead focused on the long and brutal hours Stearney put in, as well as the stoic face the man with the call sign “Sterno” wore, a countenance that belied any turmoil he might have felt inside.
U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Scott A. Stearney, the commander of U.S.5th Fleet, killed himself in his Bahrain home on Dec. 1, 2018. (Marine Corps)

The investigation into the death of Vice Adm. Scott Stearney revealed no warning signs that may have predicted the U.S. 5th Fleet commander’s Dec. 1, 2018, suicide in his Bahrain home.

But a series of suicide notes left behind by Stearney revealed he grappled with “significant time away from family” and “the struggles of military life," according to a redacted Naval Criminal Investigative Service report obtained by Navy Times.

Released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, the probe also reflects the shock Stearney’s family, friends and colleagues felt after the career aviator hanged himself.

Investigators found no evidence of personal misconduct or scandal linked to the admiral.

One officer told NCIS he didn’t think Stearney was involved in any bad behavior “because he was addicted to his job,” according to the report.
read it here

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Demand facts so that real solutions will be known to those we want to save

Beware of Awareness


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 12, 2020

There was a time when everyone was made aware, the earth was flat. They believed it until they were made aware, the earth was actually round. Until common sense took over, they hated those who were telling them the truth.
The speakers of the truth had to prove what the truth was, until the others became aware they were wrong all along.

That is exactly what has been happening for far too long in this country. The topic this time is suicide awareness being raised while veterans, members of the military, first responders and regular citizens fall off because no one told them the truth...that they could heal.

Speaking the truth about this has created the same conditions for the truth tellers to be hated. If you among those trying to make others beware of awareness, here is proof that you are right, and they are wrong.

We have the press to blame when they do not report the whole truth because they do not know enough to check the facts before they publish news reports. When the Department of Defense began resiliency training, it was a predictable outcome, but reporters continually failed to link it to the increase of servicemembers committing suicide, while in the military, as well as suicides within the Veterans' Community.


The headline from NBC News is "Air Force suicides surged last year to highest in 3 decades" It contained, "According to preliminary figures, the Air Force had 84 suicides among active-duty members last year, up from 60 the year before."

What made this report worse is that the reduction in military personnel went down over those decades when NBC inserted this, "...even as the other military services saw their numbers stabilize or decline, according to officials and unpublished preliminary data."

Suicide Awareness failure was made clearer when Lt. Gen. Brian Kelly pointed to “Suicide is a difficult national problem without easily identifiable solutions that has the full attention of leadership.”

Why? Primarily because civilians did not receive billions of dollars in training to prevent them from happening.

Civilians do suffer from mental illnesses and according the the Sidran Institute "...more than 13 million people—have PTSD at any given time." but do not subject themselves to traumatic events continually. That report is a few years old but more recent ones have a different story.

The Recovery Village states "Statistics on the prevalence of PTSD in the United States vary depending on the specific group or population being studied. Overall, PTSD affects around 3.5% of the U.S. population, approximately 8 million Americans, in a given year." within an article published in January of 2020. So which one is right? Have any reporters contacted the Sidran Institute or any of the others for clarification?

Those who select jobs, putting themselves in danger to save others, should never be linked to all others.

Why? Because they value the lives of others so much so, they were willing to sacrifice their own lives to save someone else. They are not only trained to do their jobs,  billions of dollars have been spent to  supposedly "train them" to recover from their jobs.

Have any reporters asked about all that? No.

They have not linked in the fact that the Suicide Prevention Hotline from the Veterans Administration, has "Since late 2018, VA screened more than 4 million Veterans. Crisis Line is taking more than 1,700 calls each day, and VA takes emergency action on about 100 of those calls." Still this gets worse when you are aware of how long this had been in operation. This was released in 2018, by the American Physiological Association. "Launched in 2007, the service has more than 500 phone responders, who to date have answered over 3.5 million calls and sent emergency services to more than 93,000 people. The Crisis Line expanded to add an anonymous chat service in 2009 and text messaging in 2011."

They have not reported that as the number of groups raising awareness that veterans were committing suicide, all this, and more, was happening masquerading as helpful efforts to make people aware, of things they did not know.

Suicide Awareness does not work but, those speaking the truth, must never give up on making people beware of what others want them to pay attention to. The subject of those willing to risk their lives to save others, demand facts so that real solutions will be known to those we want to save.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Marine Corps suicides down for 2019...up for Navy

Marine Corps Suicide Rate Declines, Navy Rate Rises in 2019


USNI
By: Ben Werner
February 6, 2020

In 2019, 47 active-duty Marines committed suicide – 11 fewer than in 2018 – while the Navy reported 72 suicides, four more than a year earlier, according to preliminary totals from both services.
The Marine Corps suicide rate for the calendar year 2019 was 25.3 per 100,000 active-duty Marines, a decrease from the rate of 30.7 per 100,000 active-duty Marines in 2018.

“The Marine Corps is committed to reducing the number of suicides and continues to encourage unit leaders to have open dialogue with their Marines about stress, resiliency, mental wellness and suicide,” Maj. Craig Thomas, a spokesperson for Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs, wrote in an email to USNI News.

“When leaders and mental health programs and resources acknowledge that ‘everybody struggles with life, trauma, shame, guilt and uncertainty,’ it helps make asking for assistance more acceptable,” Thomas said.

In 2019, the Navy’s active-duty suicide rate increased to 22.3 per 100,000 active-duty personnel, from the 2018 suicide rate of 20.1 per 100,000 active duty service members.
read it here

Air Force Suicides increased

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Tyler Reeb: "his courage and strength should inspire us to do better"

How many veterans do we have to lose before we actually do better?


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 4, 2020

Why do I still believe we will do the right thing to stop men and women, who risked their lives to save others, will finally risk their pride to save themselves? Because I have seen it happen too often to dismiss what is possible.

Air Force Suicides went up last year. "The U.S. Air Force says 137 airmen across the active duty, Guard and Reserve died by suicide in 2019, a 33% increase over the previous year." The annual report released last year for 2018, showed that suicides have gone up to the highest on record.
Col. Michael A. Miller, commander of the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, reportedly commented that "killing yourself is a chickenshit way to go" during a 1.2 mile "resiliency day" run with personnel...
The problem is, leaders like him are part of the problem itself! "Marine colonel calls suicide ‘shameful,' cites ‘godless age’ and calls on Marines to ‘read some scripture’"
Since the start of Gen. Robert Neller’s tenure as commandant in 2015, nearly 224 Marines have ended their own lives. That’s more Marines than an entire rifle company, he noted in a recent two-page letter on mental wellness.

In 2018, 354 active and reserve Marines attempted suicide, and 77 Marines died, numbers that are greater, Neller wrote “than any previous year recorded."

In his letter to the entire Corps, posted via Twitter in May, Neller called on Marines to address “collective mental wellness," spiritual fitness and to seek help to combat the suicide epidemic across the Corps.
Those messages have been delivered at the same time the Department of Defense has been publicly saying the troops need to seek help without fear.... and kicking out far too many who needed help, the wrong message has gotten through.

But they are not alone with that type of thinking. It has been happening for decades because "leaders" refuse to learn about what PTSD is and what it does. They cannot accept that the men and women they command valued the lives of others so much so, they were willing to die for their sake, but could not risk their pride to admit they needed help to stay alive. These "leaders" cannot even recognized they have supported silence instead of encouraging service members to #BreakTheSilence so they can heal the wound of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We should know the end of this month how many were discharged without honoring their service.
Now, according to court documents, the timeline for the documents to again be visible is clear: at least 90 percent of the pre-April 2019 Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard decisions will be reposted on the website by Jan. 31, as will all Army decisions from 2009 to April 2019. By Feb. 14, the remaining Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard decisions will be reposted, and by Feb. 28, all Army decisions prior to 2009 will be reposted.

And by March 31, the services, including the Coast Guard, will repost all decisions through Dec. 31, 2019.

But I do still believe that one day, we will arrive at a time and place where no one will ever be ashamed of PTSD, especially when it was caused by their heroism. I believe because of these leaders.

Commandant Gen. Robert Neller
"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.
"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.

Blumenthal to bring uncle of Marine who committed suicide to State of the Union


The Day
By Julia Bergman Day staff writer
February 03. 2020
"Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds — mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively. The loss of Tyler Reeb as well as his courage and strength should inspire us to do better." U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal
The uncle of a Marine Staff Sergeant Tyler Reeb, who died by suicide last fall October following multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be the guest of U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., at the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

Tyler Reeb, a decorated Marine Corps sniper who grew up in New Canaan, died in October. He led more than 100 combat missions against the Taliban, according to a news release from Blumenthal's office. His uncle, Christopher Reeb of Weston, will represent the family at the State of the Union.

"Our nation has abjectly failed to provide the care our heroes need to fight these invisible wounds — mental health services to diagnose and treat them effectively," Blumenthal said in a statement. "The loss of Tyler Reeb as well as his courage and strength should inspire us to do better."

Last week, the U.S. Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee approved legislation, authored by Blumenthal, that would establish targets to evaluate the efficacy of the VA's mental health and suicide prevention outreach campaigns and would create a process to oversee these campaigns.

The proposal adopts several recommendations from a Government Accountability Office report publicly released in December 2018, which found the VA's suicide prevention outreach activities had "dropped off in 2017 and 2018, and the office responsible for these activities lacked consistent leadership."
read it here



When you read about Tyler Reeb in days to come, think about what you just learned and then ask yourself what you can do to deliver the message to others, that Tyler Reeb should have heard.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Air Force Suicides broke record in 2019

UPDATE From Dayton Daily News
Photos of military suicide statistics leaked to social media last week have been confirmed by military officials, a national defense industry publication says. The photo on Facebook shows total “Force” suicides of 136 individuals for calender year 2019.“Officials confirmed the number last week after the latest statistics appeared on social media,” a recent Military.com story says.

Air Force suicides set a record in 2019


San Antonio Express
Sig Christenson
February 1, 2020
More than 800 trainees paraded during the Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation held at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in this 2019 file photo. Recent data show that the Air Force set a record for suicides last year.Photo: Bob Owen /Staff photographer


The Air Force set a record for suicides in 2019, a stark reminder that a Pentagon all but invincible on the battlefield has struggled to protect its troops from themselves.

There were at least 112 suspected and confirmed suicides among active-duty, reserve and Air National Guard personnel last year. That was a 40 percent jump from the year before and the highest total since the Air Force began tracking suicides in 2003.
read it here



Remind me again why anyone would support raising suicide awareness instead of healing awareness? #BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

TBI is associated with a greater risk of mental health conditions

Critically injured soldiers have high rates of mental health disorders


by University of Massachusetts Amherst
JANUARY 28, 2020
In addition, Chin found that the risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is higher—not lower, as previous investigators have assumed—among combat soldiers with more severe TBI.
This chart compares the incidence of various mental health diagnoses among soldiers with TBI vs other serious injuries. Credit: UMass Amherst

U.S. combat soldiers who suffered a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely than soldiers with other serious injuries to experience a range of mental health disorders, according to a new retrospective study by University of Massachusetts Amherst health services researchers.

"A central takeaway is that severe TBI is associated with a greater risk of mental health conditions—not just PTSD," says lead investigator David Chin, assistant professor of health policy and management in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. "Our findings suggest that patients who are critically injured in combat and sustain severe TBI have particularly high rates of mental health disorders."
Mining data from the U.S. Department of Defense, Chin found that 71% of all the severely injured soldiers were diagnosed in follow-up care with at least one of five mental health conditions: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and mood disorders, adjustment reactions, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and cognitive disorders.
read it here

UPDATE

Brain injuries from Iran air strike highlight military's failure to care for its own


USA Today
Stephen N. Xenakis Opinion contributor
Febuary 1, 2020

The medical campaign to treat psychological problems and brain injury has fallen short. Hundreds of thousands suffer the invisible injuries of war.
First the Pentagon said no U.S. troops were injured in Iran's missile strike last month on an Iraqi air base hosting Americans. Then it rose to 11 with brain injuries, then 34, then 50, and by Thursday the number was up to 64. That's upsetting, as was President Donald Trump's recent comment that "it's not very serious."
Shameful failure to help war fighters
Many years passed before the Pentagon acknowledged IED blasts as a game-changing combat injury. In 2004, I alerted the senior leadership in Army medicine. The young amputees at Walter Reed Army Medical Center complained of headaches, sleep problems and “not thinking right.” Any blast powerful enough to take the legs off a ground trooper would certainly rattle his brains. But, then again, the conventional mentality across the country did not acknowledge the damage from repeated concussions, as too many professional football players have tragically experienced.
read it here

Monday, January 27, 2020

Is your state on list where Agent Orange was tested and used?

VA releases updated DOD list identifying Agent Orange sites outside of Vietnam



WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) released in January an updated Department of Defense (DOD) list of locations outside of Vietnam where tactical herbicides were used, tested or stored by the United States military.

“This update was necessary to improve accuracy and communication of information,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “VA depends on DOD to provide information regarding in-service environmental exposure for disability claims based on exposure to herbicides outside of Vietnam."

DOD conducted a thorough review of research, reports and government publications in response to a November 2018 Government Accountability Office report.

“DOD will continue to be responsive to the needs of our interagency partners in all matters related to taking care of both current and former service members,” said Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper. “The updated list includes Agents Orange, Pink, Green, Purple, Blue and White and other chemicals and will be updated as verifiable information becomes available.”

Veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange or other herbicides during service may be eligible for a variety of VA benefits, including an Agent Orange Registry health exam, health care and disability compensation for diseases associated with exposure. Their dependents and survivors also may be eligible for benefits.

States included in this

Arkansas

Florida

Georgia

Indiana

Maryland

Mississippi

Montana

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

When do we demand reporters get suicide report right?

Clearing the road for facts on veteran suicide


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 22, 2020

Until we actually know the truth, we cannot begin to change what is happening. While it appears that FOX has attempted to claim certain things in the latest report, we need to take a good look at what is reported. After all, we should be doing it with all reports no matter what publication attempted to manipulate data...including the government itself.

That is from a FOX News report on veterans committing suicide. Veteran suicide rates remain alarmingly high despite years of reform from January 21, 2020 by Hollie McKay.
The report also underscored that for each year, from 2005 to 2017, veterans with recent Veterans Health Administration (VHA) use had higher suicide rates than other veterans. Of those VHA users, 58.7 percent had a diagnosed mental health or substance use disorder. Suicide rates were also highest among those diagnosed with opioid abuse disorder or bipolar.
Two different findings were put together. The truth is, veterans who go to the VA had an increased suicide rate of 1.3%, while for non-VA patients it was an increase of 11.8%...that they know of.

This is from the VA report,
Age- and Sex-Adjusted Suicide Rates for Veterans Who Used VHA Care
This section presents information on suicide deaths and rates among Veterans with recent use of VHA care and those without recent VHA use. Veterans who had recently used VHA care were defined as Veterans who had a VHA health encounter in the calendar year of interest or in the prior calendar year.

• For each year, from 2005 to 2017, Veterans with recent VHA use had higher suicide rates than other Veterans. However, over these years, suicide rates among Veterans with recent VHA use increased at a slower pace than for other Veterans.

• The age- and sex-adjusted suicide rate among Veterans with recent VHA use increased by 1.3% between 2016 and 2017.

• The age- and sex-adjusted suicide rate among Veterans who did not use VHA care increased by 11.8% between 2016 and 2017.
If you go to the release about the report, you will discover that the numbers within the report do not include 919 National Guard and Reservists who committed suicide.

Between 2016 and 2017, the suicide rate among never federally activated former National Guard members increased from 27.7 per 100,000 to 32.2 per 100,000.
• Between 2016 and 2017, the suicide rate among never federally activated former Reserve members decreased from 26.6 per 100,000 to 25.3 per 100,000.
• In 2017, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members, an average of 2.5 suicide deaths per day.
The report does not put in active duty service members suicides.
It is important to consider Veteran suicide in the context of suicide mortality among all U.S. adults. Also, in reporting on Veteran suicide, we focus on former service members who most closely meet the official definition of Veteran status that is used by VA and other federal agencies (see endnote regarding Title 38).3 For this report, a Veteran is defined as someone who had been activated for federal military service and was not currently serving at the time of death.
What is not included in any report are those who do not receive an honorable discharge, no matter the circumstances behind that discharge.

The Department of Defense publishes the suicide report for active duty and reserve components for the prior year, in other words, it is more up to date than the data from the VA. This is from the report released last year for 2018.

For anyone who believed that the number of military suicides were included with the VA report on "veteran suicides" as told by reporters, these are the facts from the VA.
One key change from this year’s report is that it does not group together Veterans eligible for VA services with servicemembers and former National Guard and Reserve members who were never federally activated. This change was necessary because these groups are unique and do not all qualify for the same benefits and services, therefore they require individualized outreach strategies.
It is important to read this part again. Too many think that sending veterans into civilian healthcare system is a good idea, however, as this report points out, the rate of civilians committing suicide has increased 43.6%.
From 2005 to 2017, suicides among all U.S. adults increased by 43.6 percent, while suicides among Veterans increased by 6.1 percent.
America’s non-Veteran population is increasing while its Veteran population is decreasing over time.
The number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.
In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.
Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7 percent of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2 percent of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.
In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average of 2.5 suicide deaths per day.

In this part the VA contradicted itself.


Veteran Suicide Rates by Age Group
• Veterans ages 18–34 had the highest suicide rate in 2017 (44.5 per 100,000).
• The suicide rate for Veterans ages 18–34 increased by 76% from 2005 to 2017.
• Veterans ages 55–74 had the lowest suicide rate per 100,000 in 2017.
• The absolute number of suicides was highest among Veterans 55–74 years old. This group accounted for 38% of all Veteran deaths by suicide in 2017.

And this is about female veterans.

UPDATE

Maybe if they paid attention in 2013...things would have been different by now. THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR by Kathie Costos
Military and veteran suicides are higher even though billions are spent every year trying to prevent them. After years of research most can be connected to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD has been researched for 40 years yet most of what was known has been forgotten. Families are left blaming themselves for what they were never told. Reporters have failed to research. Congress failed at holding people accountable. The military failed at giving them the help they need. We failed to pay attention.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

More than 2,800 chaplains across the U.S. military, not enough to serve those who serve

Recruiting Challenges for Chaplains Mirror Other Military Jobs


Department of Defense
BY C. TODD LOPEZ
January 16, 2020
"Less than 1% of American youth actually have somebody in their immediate family who has served at any time in their lives." Lernes Hebert, Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for Military Personnel

With more than 2,800 chaplains across the U.S. military, representing dozens of faith groups, maintaining adequate manning is a challenge. Those challenges are not unique, however, in that they match those faced by recruiters for other officers and enlisted personnel as well.

During the annual Armed Forces Chaplains Board endorsers conference today at the Pentagon, Lernes Hebert, the deputy assistant defense secretary for military personnel policy, spoke with chaplains and chaplain endorsers. He addressed the complexity of recruiting chaplains from a population of Americans that are today more unfamiliar with the military than they have ever been in the past.

"Somehow you have to communicate to an American population who is getting further and further removed from its military," Lernes told endorsers, who are the civilian representatives of faith groups responsible for helping chaplains into the military.
"It's about caring for their brothers and sisters, it's about caring for individuals who have dedicated themselves to public service, and sacrificing things the American people typically don't fully appreciate."
read it here

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Veterans forced to sue because military has failed to meet deadlines on disability claims

Veteran Group Sues Military Leaders, Claiming Yearslong Delays on Benefits Decisions


Military.com
By Richard Sisk
14 Jan 2020
Stichman said the class-action suit represents a mix of veterans either requesting upgrades of discharges to entitle them to benefits or requests from honorably discharged veterans for corrections to their records.
A group of veterans watches the Veterans Day wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery, November 11, 2016. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson)
The military has failed to meet deadlines set by Congress for rulings on veterans' requests to correct records blocking them from receiving benefits, according to a federal class-action lawsuit filed last month.

The suit brought by the National Veterans Legal Services Program (NVLSP) charges that delays in processing the requests by the Boards for Correction of Military Records of the service branches amount to a denial of the due process rights of thousands of veterans.

In an interview and in statements, Bart Stichman, executive director of NVLSP, said that rulings on "lifetime benefits" for disability and retirement are at stake in the lawsuit, which names Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly as defendants.

"Veterans who seek a correction of an erroneous less-than-honorable discharge or a wrongful denial of disability retirement benefits are paying a high price for the ongoing delays at the Correction Boards," he said.
read it here

Friday, January 3, 2020

Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019 claim filed on New Year's Day

Fort Bragg soldier first to file medical malpractice claim against the government


ABC 11 News
By Diane Wilson
January 2, 2020

A new year means the new law named after a Fort Bragg soldier Richard Stayskal is in effect. This new law, The Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019, paves the way for the military to hold the government accountable for negligence and malpractice by military doctors.
Stayskal along with his attorney Natalie Khawam didn't waste any time and filed a malpractice claim against the government on New Year's Day.

"I filed SFC Richard Stayskal's claim on January 1st, to ring in the New Year," Khawam said. "We're honored that our bill passed in less than a year, especially after 70 years of unsuccessful attempts by many others. We don't want to waste any time pursuing recourse for the Stayskal family. We look forward to helping our Military families seek justice in 2020."

ABC11 first told you about Sgt. 1st Class Richard Stayskal's fight in December 2018. The Purple Heart recipient is stationed at Fort Bragg and lives in Pinehurst with his wife and two daughters. He has stage four lung cancer.
It's a cancer diagnosis that he said should have been caught earlier but was missed by military doctors at Womack Army Medical Center during a routine physical in January 2017.
read it here


Here is the link to the The Sergeant First Class Richard Stayskal Military Medical Accountability Act of 2019

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Those who serve this country now...those who served it before, and all those who will come afterwards are screwed!

Dereliction of the duty they provided


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 28, 2019

A report on Military Times should have sent shockwaves to every military family. Considering what we have seen with the rise in suicides among those currently serving, it is an indication that things are about to get even worse.

Since 2012, the average number of suicides reported by the Department of Defense remains at about 500 per year but considering that most reporters really do not give a crap, most people do not know that.

Considering we cannot even get that through to the public, who has the time to talk about their family members committing suicide? After all, we cannot even manage to talk about what the troops are still going through after billions have been spent to prevent them from committing suicide.

Bet you didn't know a Captain in the Kansas National Guard quit in protest because of the lack of actual suicide prevention!

The rest of the report should have sent shockwaves into the veterans community as well. As more and more seem fine with the fact that the VA budget has ballooned to cover private practices picking up the healthcare of our veterans, we also need to think about the ramifications because it is not good in the real world.
"The report noted that the D.C. area is one of the most challenging in the country to hire mental health providers; more than 80 percent of psychiatrists, psychologists and license clinical social workers do not take insurance, operating on a cash-only basis."
Yes you read that right...cash only! How many others are operating the same way? How many veterans are also paying cash so that no one knows they are being treated for PTSD to avoid the threat of losing their guns, or jobs? Any idea how many are still working on jobs that require them to be able to carry weapons?

It is too easy to just assume that all veterans with PTSD are too dangerous to have a gun! Top that off with the providers taking cash only, will not be inclined to see patients sent from the VA, especially when their track record of paying is abysmal!

But is actually even worse than that. Back to the report on Military Times.
"The demand for mental health services has risen across the United States in the past decade as the number of providers is has not kept pace and is barely holding steady. The Health Resources and Services Administration projects a shortfall of 250,000 providers by 2025."
And even more damning...
"And some geographic regions are harder hit by the mental health provider shortage. In these areas, the Defense Department faces even more difficult challenges hiring and retaining an adequate number of personnel."
Take a look at what some want to subject veterans across the country to because if there are not enough providers for civilians, we just sent veterans to the back of the that line!

WWMT News reported in Michigan there is a shortage of mental health providers.
Studies show in Michigan about 330,000 people live with a serious mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and nearly 60% don't receive treatment because help can be hard to find.

Like most of the country, Michigan is in desperate need of more psychiatrists - especially for children.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, the state had just 239 psychiatrists trained to treat children in 2017, which is 11 psychiatrists for every 100,000 children across the state.

KFDA News reported that Texas Panhandle sees shortage of Mental Health Providers
The recent data shows that across the state there is an average of one mental health provider to 957 individuals, but in the Texas Panhandle there is one mental health provider to 4,400 individuals, which makes it hard for those with behavioral issues to get the help they need. Like the rest of the United States, the Panhandle is seeing an increase in patients seeking mental health treatment, but they can’t find enough doctors, nurses, and therapists to treat them.

KCUR NPR reported Kansas Sees Shortage Of Psychiatrists And Other Mental Health Providers
For years, the center has used remote appointments with local psychiatrists to reach patients in far-flung corners of its coverage area, which spans 20 largely rural counties. But recently, Hill said, it’s been almost impossible to find psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses to do even that. He’s had to turn to providers who conference in from Kansas City, Texas and Tennessee.
There are 431 psychiatrists actively licensed to practice in Kansas, according to the state’s Board of Healing Arts. One calculation by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the state needs 53 more to meet its needs.
So do you think that you have been told the truth about any of this? Or are you now aware as to why it has gotten steadily worse for those who serve this country now...those who served it before, and all those who will come afterwards? They are screwed unless we demand a hell of a lot better out of Washington!

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Jennifer Kepner served as an Air Force Medic in Iraq in 2006, killed by cancer caused by burn pits

President Trump signs Rep. Ruiz’s burn pits, law enforcement mental health bill into law


News Channel 3
By Jesus Reyes
December 20, 2019
Kepner lost her battle to cancer on October 16, 2017. She was 39 years old and left behind a husband and two young children. After her passing, her husband continued her fight to end burn pits.
President Donald Trump signed three of local Congressman Raul Ruiz's bills into law, including legislation to stop burn pits and improve mental health services for local law enforcement.

On Friday, Trump signed the bipartisan, $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act into law. The NDAA included two pieces of Ruiz's legislation aiming to end the use of toxic military burn pits.

Burn pits were used as the main way to get rid of waste and garbage on American military bases during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, hundreds of tons of waste were burned each day including plastics, Styrofoam, petroleum products, human waste, and other items.

Many service members and veterans exposed to burn pits ended up suffering from pulmonary issues, insomnia, cancer, and rare illnesses.

An independent registry by Burn Pits 360, a veteran organization whose goal it is to end burn pits, reveals that over 6,000 veterans have been exposed to toxic airborne chemicals and fumes generated by open air burn pits.

Ruiz's legislation calls on the Department of Defense to produce and implement a plan to phase out the use of burn pits and provide a comprehensive list of all locations where the toxic burn pits have been used.

One local veteran affected by burn pits was at the forefront of highlighting the dangers of the practice years ago.

Cathedral City resident Jennifer Kepner served as an Air Force Medic in Iraq in 2006. She told News Channel 3's John White in Sept. 2017, she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2016. read it here