Showing posts with label Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention bill. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention bill. Show all posts

Thursday, June 20, 2019

"More than 50,000 organizations that provide suicide prevention services for veterans"

Following blind leaders leaves too many lost

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 20, 2019

When you have over a decade of claiming you are paying attention to something, but it gets worse, no matter what you do, that should give you a clue to open you eyes. Somehow, common sense dictates a serious look to find what you got wrong.

Common sense left Washington a long time ago.

Members of Congress are yet again trying to blame guns for veterans committing suicide. Guess they did not see a few facts. 

Taking guns away from veterans, especially if their jobs depend on using them, keeps them away from the VA and prevents them from seeking help from anyone.

They tried that back in 2007 with the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act. If it worked, would his family have to give their heartbreaking account in years later?

Voices: The heartbreak of veterans' suicides
"...Seven years ago, the script was almost exactly the same during a series of hearings I covered about veterans who were killing themselves after combat."
Randall Omvig testifies about his son Joshua's suicide during an appearance before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2007. Omvig's wife, Ellen, is at right. (Photo: File photo by Dennis Cook, AP)
The following year, President Bush signed into law a bill named after Omvig. It called for better screening of veterans returning from combat, better education, more mental health professionals for the Department of Veterans Affairs, more research, a new suicide hotline.

"This bill has Josh's name on it, but it represents so many men and women before and after Josh who were unable to live with the physical, mental and psychological effects of their service," his father, Randall Omvig, said at the time.

In late 2006, Army reservist Joshua Omvig went home for Thanksgiving a week after he returned from Iraq. While home, he pulled out a gun in front of his mother and shot himself.
Kelly Kennedy reported that for USA Today. There is a battle that veterans are losing. It is yet one more price they have paid after serving this country. It has been as it was since they risked their lives to obtain the freedom the rest of the citizens of this country enjoy. 

Leaders keep saying they do not know why the percentage of veterans committing suicide goes up after spending has also gone up. Admittedly, I am far from a genius but I do have common sense and that is the thing that is missing most in Washington.

Yet again, the VA and Congress miss the point as to why veterans commit suicide.

Notice how "first responders" were mentioned? They really think that taking away weapons will prevent suicides? It prevents veterans from seeking help, especially if their jobs are tied to the use of guns AS FIRST REPONDERS!

Notice there are no plans in place to rid the veterans community of ineffective "efforts" to change the outcome, or, hold any of the 50,000 organizations accountable, they want to blame the means instead of the reason.

Federal suicide prevention efforts in coming months will include increased focus on veterans’ access to firearms, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said during a Capitol Hill appearance Wednesday.

“It is key,” he said during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on his department’s recent efforts to address the problem. “Seventy percent of veterans who (die by suicide) do so with firearms. We’re dealing with a population that has a special familiarity with firearms. So we’re working on ways to build time and space … between thoughts and impulsive acts.”

The comments came just two days after the first formal meeting of a new presidential task force on preventing veterans suicide, part of a year-long effort to re-energize government’s approach to the problem.

That was from this article
Veterans suicide prevention efforts will include more discussions on firearm safety
Military Times
By: Leo Shane III
June 19, 2019

The comments came just two days after the first formal meeting of a new presidential task force on preventing veterans suicide, part of a year-long effort to re-energize government’s approach to the problem.

The group, which includes eight cabinet officials and the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, named as its executive director Barbara Van Dahlen, founder of the mental health advocacy organization Give an Hour. Wilkie said the work ahead will help establish a strategic plan to coordinate federal, state and community efforts on prevention.

And he also said that work will include discussions of firearms. The topic has long been a problematic political debate on Capitol Hill, with critics calling any discussion of limiting unstable veterans’ access to weapons a violation of their constitutional rights.

But Wilkie said his department has already partnered with several firms to provide gun locks to veterans, and is looking at additional education for veterans on firearms storage and safety issues.

That will include gun safety instruction for veterans caregivers, and more information for veterans families about resources on firearms storage and services.
read more here
Considering that guns have been tied to veterans committing suicide since the first "prevention" bill these folks came up with back in 2007, you'd think they would have figured out by now that is not the solution. 

“Of the 20 veterans who commit suicide every day in this country, roughly 14 of them don’t receive treatment from the VA,” said Warner. “This legislation will target that group by providing grant funding to private organizations with a proven track record of strong mental health and suicide prevention efforts among veterans. It’s my hope that broad coordination between the VA, state veterans affairs departments, first responders, and local leaders, will allow us to support more at-risk veterans and make a meaningful impact on reducing veteran suicide rates in this country.”
In Fiscal Year 2010, the VA requested $62 million for suicide prevention outreach. In Fiscal Year 2020, that number nearly quadrupled to $222 million. Despite the sharp increase in funding, the rate of veterans suicides has remained roughly unchanged at 20 per day. Only six of those 20 veterans are receiving healthcare services at the VA. This points to a significant need to empower the VA to work through community partners to expand outreach. At the same time, national data indicates there are more than 50,000 organizations that provide suicide prevention services for veterans, yet they are hard for veterans to find, access, apply for and use.
That was reported in the following article, and yes, you read those numbers correctly. 

Boozman-Warner bill aims to expand outreach, create measurement tool to improve effectiveness in fight against veteran suicideAugusta Free PressJun. 19, 2019
U.S. Sens. John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation to improve coordination of veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and to better measure the effectiveness of these programs in order to reduce the alarming number of veteran suicides.
The IMPROVE (Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere) Wellbeing for Veterans Act creates a new grant program to enable the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to conduct additional outreach through veteran-serving non-profits in addition to state and local organizations.
“Congress has provided significant resources to the VA to decrease veteran suicides, yet the number of veterans who take their own lives everyday remains unchanged,” Boozman said. “We all share the goal of saving the lives of veterans. We must have better coordination of existing programs; a common tool to measure the effectiveness of our programs; and better information sharing, data collection and continual feedback in order to identify what services are having the most impact. Creating a framework for these necessary pieces is essential to empowering organizations to work together in the fight against veteran suicide.”

read more here

Taking away one means of doing it, is not the answer. The means can change, but unless we remove the reason, they will still seek death over one more day unless we give them a reason to stay! More female veterans attempt suicide, but since they use less lethal means, many survive the first time they tried it.

Take away the means and they just find another way...forced to find another way because the leaders have been blind to the better way!

We had more veterans living in this country when the VA reported 20 a day...back in 1999! During a time when there was not billions being handed out like prizes with absolutely no judges to weigh the merit of the "effort" they were paid to deliver on. Somehow we managed to save more lives than spend more on creating crap!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Senator Grassley Has Second History on Veterans Gun Rights

I had some extra time this morning to read some old emails and right now, I am very glad I did. This one came in on the 17th. It is about Senator Grassley all in a dither about veterans losing their "second amendment rights" because of the VA. Seriously? He thought he could get away with it? He voted for it back in 2007!!!!!!!
Joshua Omvig Bill Signed into law Nov 05, 2007 Joshua Omvig Bill Signed into law Senator Chuck Grassley today made the following statement after President George Bush signed into law the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill. The law is named for Joshua Omvig, an Iowa soldier who committed suicide upon returning from serving in Iraq. “Today’s action helps give veterans who are suffering mental anguish a place to turn when all else seems lost. These are brave men and women who need to know that there is help out there and they deserve medical treatment just like any other veteran.”
Sen. Grassley: VA Trampling Vets' Second Amendment Rights 
By Courtney Coren
Friday, 17 Apr 2015
"That's no determination of whether you're mentally defective." Grassley argues that "not being able to handle your own money is not a high-enough standard that you shouldn't be able to have a gun."
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley tells Newsmax TV that there's no way to justify the Veterans Administration's putting so many veterans on the "mental defective" list, which prevents them from legally obtaining firearms. Grassley wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder this week saying that the classification, which affects 83,000 veterans, "effectively voids their Second Amendment rights." 

"This is something that we're not going to be able to justify," the Iowa Republican told J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" on Newsmax TV on Friday. read more here
Some think the latest bill Senator Coburn held up was the only one but way back in 2007, he held up another suicide prevention bill because of gun rights and tracking veterans. Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention
Senator Coburn Opposed the Bill Because He Was Concerned that Data-Gathering Would Prevent Veterans from Purchasing Guns. Coburn expressed concern that a section of the bill saying the Veterans Affairs Department ‘shall provide for appropriate tracking of veterans’ would result in data-gathering that could prevent veterans from purchasing handguns. Coburn said his concern was that if the department shared health data with other federal agencies, such as the Justice Department, then veterans with mental illness could be barred from purchasing handguns. [CQ Today, 8/23/07]
But, again another politician tried to rewrite their own history because Grassley not only supported it, he was part of starting it.
From Senator Tom Harkin
Let me give a little bit of history. I introduced this legislation, along with my colleague from Iowa, Senator Grassley, after learning about the case of a young Iowan--his name was Joshua Omvig--who tragically took his own life shortly after returning home from an 11-month deployment in Iraq. Joshua was a member of the U.S. Army Reserve, 339th MP Company, based in Davenport, IA. Before leaving for Iraq, he was a member of the Grundy Center Volunteer Fire Department and the Grundy Center Police Reserves. He was honored to serve his country in the Reserves and hoped to return to his community to serve as a police officer.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Congress Suicide Prevention Zip-A-Dee-Doo-DAH!

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
January 30, 2015

There is a report out of California that is a reminder of exactly what has been going on in this country. People hear about problems and they want to do something. When politicians want to get their names on bills, they put together a bunch of words, figure out who will make money off the deal and then zip-a-dee-doo-dah, they pull a magic trick.

State and county officials cannot show how billions of dollars collected through a voter-approved tax on millionaires are being spent or whether the related programs have helped people with mental illness as voters intended, a state watchdog commission reported Tuesday.

The Little Hoover Commission report is the latest review to find that the state has little evidence to show that $13 billion in Proposition 63 funds have been effectively spent.

An investigation by The Associated Press in 2012 found that tens of millions of dollars generated by the tax went to general wellness programs for people who had not been diagnosed with any mental illness. Those programs include yoga, gardening, art classes and horseback riding. The state auditor reported similar findings a year later.

"After 10 years the state still can't document whether $13 billion raised through the act has improved the streets of California and the lives of its residents," the commissioners wrote.

And then when problems got worse, people wanted something done to help. Caring people didn't really care about what it would cost as long as people were helped. Short memory spans as folks got back to their own lives, they were not reminded of what already failed that was paid for, so as more people were suffering, they wanted politicians to do something to fix it.

They just never bothered to track the tragic results with more suffering who could have actually been helped if politicians made sure they understood the problem, knew the facts, history and researched what had already been done comparing failures to successes before they wasted time and money causing more years of more suffering.

On the topic of fee basis care, when a veteran gets medical care outside the VA and they pay for it.
What GAO Found
The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) fee basis care spending increased from about $3.04 billion in fiscal year 2008 to about $4.48 billion in fiscal year 2012. The slight decrease in fiscal year 2012 spending from the fiscal year 2011 level was due to VA's adoption of Medicare rates as its primary payment method for fee basis providers. VA's fee basis care utilization also increased from about 821,000 veterans in fiscal year 2008 to about 976,000 veterans in fiscal year 2012.

GAO found that several factors affect VA medical centers' (VAMC) utilization of fee basis care--including veteran travel distances to VAMCs and goals for the maximum amount of time veterans should wait for VAMC-based appointments. VAMCs that GAO reviewed reported that they often use fee basis care to provide veterans with treatment closer to their homes--particularly for veterans who are not eligible for travel reimbursement. In addition, VAMC officials reported that veterans are often referred to fee basis providers to ensure that VAMC-based clinics that would otherwise treat them can meet established VA wait time goals for how long veterans wait for an appointment. However, GAO found that VA has not established goals for and does not track how long veterans wait to be seen by fee basis providers.

But hey, we just believed reporters as if it was never done before when Congress said they wanted to do it after causing all the hoopla last year.

Then there is suicide prevention among veterans. We know these programs failed or we would be seeing more veterans committing suicide during a time when there has never been more "awareness" and more charities popping up across the county. As it is, bill after bill has been sold as something different but as we've seen, there is nothing new to see here. Suicide Prevention Efforts of the Veterans Health Administration, Erin Bagalman Analyst in Health Policy January 10, 2013 is yet one more indication no one is being held accountable for failures but above all that, no one is being held accountable for the money either.
Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act
The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (P.L. 110-110), enacted in 2007, required the VA Secretary to develop and implement a comprehensive suicide prevention program, and to report to Congress on the program. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that implementing the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act would have “little, if any, cost,” because the VA already had implemented or was planning to implement each of the specific requirements.

The textbox below lists the required elements and additional authorized elements of the comprehensive suicide prevention program.
Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (P.L. 110-110)
Required elements of the comprehensive suicide prevention program include the following:
• mandatory suicide prevention training for appropriate VA staff and contractors;
• designation of a suicide prevention counselor at each VA medical center;
• outreach and education for veterans and their families to promote mental health;
• mental health assessments of veterans and referrals to appropriate treatment;
• availability of 24-hour mental health care for veterans;
• research on best practices for suicide prevention; and
• research on mental health among veterans with military sexual trauma.
Additional authorized (but not required) elements include the following:
• a 24-hour toll-free hotline staffed by trained mental health personnel;
• peer support counseling; and
• other actions to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans.

But there was more,
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008
Section 1611 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (P.L. 110-181) directed the VA and DOD Secretaries to jointly develop a comprehensive care and transition policy for servicemembers recovering from serious injuries or illnesses related to their military service. The law specified that the policy must address (among other things) the training and skills of health care professionals, recovery coordinators, and case managers, to ensure that they are able to detect and report early warning signs of suicidal thoughts or behaviors, along with other behavioral health concerns. The law further specified that the policy must include tracking the notifications made by recovery care coordinators, medical care case managers, and nonmedical care managers to health care professionals regarding suicidal thoughts or behaviors, along with other behavioral health concerns. A 2009 Government Accountability Office report indicates that DOD and VA have developed the relevant policies.

Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008
Section 809 of the Veterans’ Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-389) grants the VA Secretary authority to advertise in the media for various purposes, including suicide prevention. Caregivers and

Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010
Section 403 of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-163) requires the VA Secretary to conduct a study to determine the number of veterans who died by suicide between January 1, 1999, and May 5, 2010 (i.e., the date of enactment). As of this writing, the study has not been completed.

As you discover more veterans are committing suicide, you need to remember, we've been down this road for so long now that the road wore out for far too many veterans we were told congress intended to save.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Military Suicides: What Good Did It Do To Be Right?

I am drained. I can't possibly be the only person in this country wondering why the hell this latest bill out of congress deserves supporting. Then again, considering my email box is usually full of reasons why it should be supported, it is very lonely from where I sit.
Senate panel OKs bill to lower veteran suicide rate
The Associated Press
By Matthew Daly
January 21, 2015

WASHINGTON — A bill aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic among military veterans cleared a Senate committee on Wednesday, as lawmakers vowed quick action on a measure that was blocked in the last session of Congress.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill named for Clay Hunt, a 26-year-old veteran who killed himself in 2011. The bill is aimed at reducing a suicide epidemic that claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day.

Aimed at reducing? Ok then what about all the other bills? Anyone figure out how to aim the right weapon to accomplish that? Nope! So far the only aiming is being done by a veteran with the gun in his hand and they usually don't miss.

Click the link to read the rest of the article if you can stand it. I can't. I had to leave this comment.
When will this ever end? How many more years of bills being passed while veterans pay for the failures of congress with their lives? How many more have to die before they figure out they had it wrong since the first bill in 2007 and then only reprinted more of the same?

HBO did a documentary back in 2013.

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Since 2001, more veterans have died by their own hand than in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one veteran dies by suicide in America every 80 minutes. While only 1% of Americans has served in the military, former service members account for 20% of all suicides in the U.S.

Based in Canandaigua, NY and open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the Veterans Crisis Line receives more than 22,000 calls each month from veterans of all conflicts who are struggling or contemplating suicide due to the psychological wounds of war and the challenges of returning to civilian life.

The timely documentary CRISIS HOTLINE: VETERANS PRESS 1 spotlights the traumas endured by America’s veterans, as seen through the work of the hotline’s trained responders, who provide immediate intervention and support in hopes of saving the lives of service members.

After serving their country overseas, many military veterans struggle with post-traumatic stress, depression and addiction. Since 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered about 900,000 calls. CRISIS HOTLINE highlights how its dedicated responders react to a variety of complex calls and handle the emotional aftermath of what can be life-and-death conversations. The film captures these extremely private moments, where the professionals, many of whom are themselves veterans or veterans’ spouses, can often interrupt the thoughts and plans of suicidal callers to steer them out of crisis. Hotline workers sometimes intervene successfully by seizing on the caller's ambivalence and illuminating his or her reasons for living.
read more here
Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 1.35 million calls and made more than 42,000 lifesaving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added an anonymous online chat service and has engaged in more than 192,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service to provide another way for Veterans to connect with confidential, round-the-clock support, and since then has responded to more than 28,000 texts.

This means as bad as the numbers are with young veterans committing suicide triple their civilian peers and veterans in general double the civilian rate, it would be worse without this crisis line. But hey, why talk about this? It is a lot easier to just follow along and push to have another bill passed. 

Why come up with the change veterans have been waiting for? Why do something different since they have been paying for these failures with their lives?

The granddaddy of all these bills was the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention act passed by the Congress in 2007 and signed by President Bush in 2008.

This was part of it.
`(h) Hotline- In carrying out the comprehensive program, the Secretary may provide for a toll-free hotline for veterans to be staffed by appropriately trained mental health personnel and available at all times.

You can read everything else in the bill but you can find more of the same in every other bill they have pushed, passed, signed and funded.

Hint, these bills were in place before Clay Hunt and thousands of others committed suicide.

While we're on the subject, why would we want to talk about veterans facing off with police officers or committing suicide by cop? Or why talk about them still asking for help like Clay did only to discover the help he needed was not what he got? Why talk about the fact that no one has been held accountable for all the failures this far? Why talk about Congress listening to family members after someone they love made it back from combat but ended their pain the only way they could think of?

Why talk about the fucking fact that none of this is new?

If you want to keep spreading the message that this will do anything tomorrow, show up at your local cemetery because they'll be needing more graves for veterans.

Think I'm wrong? Well they thought I was wrong back in 2009 too when I said if the Army pushed Comprehensive Soldier Fitness they would see suicides increase and they did. Maybe you can tell me what good did it do to be right if they died faster?

UPDATE Add this to the above
CBS News: VA Patient Data Reveals Growing Number Of Suicide Attempts By Veterans 2008
"When you go through war, you're going to change permanently and totally for the rest of your life," said veteran Harold Pendergrass.

Pendergrass knows firsthand the hidden wounds of war. He served two tours in Vietnam.

"I carried a suicide note in my pocket for years," he said.

At 57, the former Army soldier has tried to take his own life three times, constantly wrestling with thoughts of killing himself.

"I sat around numerous times with a .44 in my mouth," he said. "But for some reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I don't know why."

Now, CBS News has obtained never-before seen patient data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, detailing the growing number of suicide attempts among vets recently treated by the VA.

The data reveals a marked overall increase - from 462 attempts in 2000 to 790 in 2007.

"This is highly statistically significant," said Dr. Bruce Levin, head of the biostatistics department at Columbia University. Levin is one of three experts who analyzed the data for CBS News.

"I'd characterize it as something that deserves further attention," Levin said. "Overall the data suggests about a 44 percent increase and that is not due to chance."

According to the experts, two age groups stood out between 2000 and 2007. First, ages 20-24 - those likely to have served during the Iraq-Afghan wars. Suicide attempts rose from 11 to 47.

And for vets ages 55 to 59, suicide attempts jumped from 19 to 117.

In both age groups, the attempted suicides grew at a rate much faster than the VA patient population as a whole.

In addition, this VA study, also obtained exclusively by CBS News, reveals the increasing number of veterans who recently received VA services ... and still succeeded in committing suicide: rising from 1,403 suicides in 2001 to 1,784 in 2005 - figures the VA has never made public.

And add this to that from today
A new study suggests that the suicide risk for Eldridge and other veterans who served in the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is significantly higher – 41 to 61 percent higher -- than for the general population. The study, led by Department of Veterans Affairs and Army researchers, is the most comprehensive look to date at the suicide risk for veterans who were on active duty during the recent wars.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Vet with PTSD has to give up guns,,,still

Where were all of these people when this happened?

Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act
H.R. 327 (same title) 
Signed by the President — Nov 05, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Feds Tell Veteran He Will Lose 2nd Amendment Rights Because of PTSD
Tim King and Jerry Freeman
January 9, 2014

When did serving your country become a crime?

Pat Kirby during the Vietnam War, and today.

(MYRTLE CREEK, OR) - If Pat Kirby has his guns taken away by the federal government, then everyone else is probably going to eventually face the same thing. The clock is ticking. Pat Kirby is a decorated Oregon Vietnam Veteran with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). He never imagined he would receive a letter telling him he will have to turn over his guns, or face imprisonment.
read more here

How is it that people only pay attention when it involves their personal life but otherwise, don't seem to care?

This bill did more damage to veterans than it has helped them.

Here is the whole post about losing gun rights I put up in 2009.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Suicide prevention bill prevents veterans from getting help

Chaplain Kathie

I did a presentation the other day for a group of veterans about PTSD. After I was done talking there was plenty of time for questions. The question most on their minds was the right to carry a gun at the same time they were getting help.

The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill is a wonderful thing, but yet again Congress was not thinking. What this ended up doing is raise the awareness PTSD veterans need help at the same time they were begin deterred from getting it.

Would you want a PTSD veteran needing help with a gun and getting it, or would you want one with a gun and not getting it? Seems to be the question our elected should have been asking before they wrote it the way they did.

While guns are the means of choice when it comes to suicide, and there is the domestic violence issue, they can and do find other ways. When they are trained to go into combat, they are trained to rely on their weapon as their friend. When they come home with the war inside of them, many want that friend right by their side. Many veterans with PTSD go into police and defense jobs. Taking away their gun is taking away their incomes. This leaves us with a huge problem on top of the one we've had for too many years. At the same time they hear, "go for help to heal" they are told "your right to carry a gun will go away" if you do. Ever tell a combat veteran they are no longer able to carry a gun when they did it in combat?

There is no easy answer on this when it comes to preventing suicides and domestic violence when the root cause is PTSD. Awareness is wonderful and much more of it needs to be done when two thirds of the American public have no clue what it is. Educating the communities around the nation is wonderful as well as opening Veterans' Centers but if you do not get them to go for help, none of it will do much good at all.

If this part of the bill is not removed then we will keep losing more and more veterans to suicide and see their lives slip away. One more thing if you still don't understand what this did. Some troops deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. They have guns. Some police officers have PTSD and serve on the streets everyday. They have guns. Do you think they could do their jobs without them? Do you see them all committing suicide or domestic violence with them? Taking away guns when they seek help is an easy answer to a very complex problem and was in fact the wrong answer.

I was worried about this and heard from a lot of veterans when the bill was signed. It took a good friend of mine to point this issue out when I was thinking the other way. Then more and more veterans contacted me with this concern. Now, I know for sure, it has kept them from getting help. Most of the veterans said it was their number one reason for not going for help. They've come to terms with the stigma being stupid now they have to deal with a catch in a bill to help them being stupid.

Write to your congressmen and have them get this right right now please. They've already waited long enough to begin the healing.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Finally the right answer for PTSD veteran gun owners

Finally the right answer for PTSD veteran gun owners
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
May 9, 2013

When Congress passed the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act, it did more harm than good because they did not understand what they were doing. This bill ended up keeping many veterans from seeking help. Why? Because gun owners thought they would have to give up their guns if they sought help.

I was speaking to a group of veterans in 2009 when this was more important to them than anything else I had to say. I wrote that Suicide prevention bill prevents veterans from getting help
"If this part of the bill is not removed then we will keep losing more and more veterans to suicide and see their lives slip away. One more thing if you still don't understand what this did. Some troops deployed into Iraq and Afghanistan have PTSD. They have guns. Some police officers have PTSD and serve on the streets everyday. They have guns. Do you think they could do their jobs without them? Do you see them all committing suicide or domestic violence with them? Taking away guns when they seek help is an easy answer to a very complex problem and was in fact the wrong answer."

This morning I was reading Panel Votes To Limit Veteran Submissions To Gun Registry
Lawmakers said veterans who are not a threat to harm themselves or others should not be denied a constitutional right to buy and possess guns.

This is a great step in treating veterans with respect and fairly. The means by which they commit suicide is not as important as the reason. If they take away one way to do it but leave the problems unaddressed, they just find another way to do it. Having PTSD does not mean they are all suicidal or dangerous. We don't treat any group the same way just because some members of the group do something. Giving the authority to a judge puts this where it belongs, on a case by case basis.

If a veteran is a danger to himself or others, then just like everyone else, he should have his weapons removed but the fact is, most are not dangerous to anyone. Once they are treated properly and no longer suicidal, then they should be able to go back to court to have their gun rights restored.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Should Gun Restrictions Be Placed on Veterans With PTSD?

If they didn't forget about the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act, this could have been a good story. Pay close attention to pages 628-630
Should Gun Restrictions Be Placed on Veterans With PTSD?
New York Times
April 26, 2013

When Phillip Barker received the official report from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2008, it said he suffered from homicidal ideations of a passive-aggressive nature. It also said that he had an alcohol dependency. That he experiences anxiety, sleeplessness, hypervigilance and nervous tics as part of his post-traumatic stress disorder, diagnosed in 2007 after his honorable discharge from the Marine Corps. And that he has flashbacks from his deployment to Falluja, Iraq, in 2004.

Mr. Barker also owns a pistol.

After the Newtown, Conn. massacre last December and the killing of the former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle at a Texas shooting range in February, the media, President Obama, Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and even David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association, have suggested that people with mental illnesses, which could include veterans with combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder, be subject to stricter gun restrictions. Many states already have laws saying that people who have mental illnesses or have been committed to mental institutions cannot purchase or own firearms.

But the issue is deeply contentious for many reasons, and not just because it involves gun control and the civil rights of veterans. For mental health professionals and veterans organizations, it also raises questions about the nature of post-traumatic stress disorder and its relationship to violent behavior.

Dr. Eric Elbogen, a clinical psychologist with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Durham, N.C., declined to comment on Mr. Barker’s case. But he said that although PTSD is a mental disorder, decisions on whether to restrict the gun rights of people who have received a diagnosis of PTSD should be individualized. The reason, he said, is that not all people with the disorder are violent.
read more here

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thrown Into a Psych Ward for No Apparent Reason?

This story does not add up to the headline.

Do veterans get treated the way they should? Hell no! Do they wait and fight for the compensation and treatment they earned while serving? Yes and they shouldn't have to. The veteran says in the second interview that he had personal issues and left a message on his friends phone. That is what apparently caused this. The police did a "wellness check" and frankly they don't do that unless someone has called about someone they are worried about.

I've had to do it several times for veterans I was worried about. They don't just show up at a veteran's door.

This veteran says in the phone interview that he went to the VA for pain in his back and was told he would need to get evaluated by mental health and that makes sense since they are evaluating veterans for PTSD and TBI because most don't know they have either one. The pain medication he was asking for is probably addictive, so there is another reason. Plus you have to consider that we have a huge problem with veterans committing suicide.

There is no way for me to know for sure because all I can go by are the videos of this veteran being interviewed. If he left a message on his friend's machine starting the concern off, then people did what they were supposed to do. The only way the VA can take away gun rights is if the veteran is a danger to himself or others, or has a court ordered fiduciary because they cannot make rational decisions. This does not happen often.

Congress' answer to the veterans suicide epidemic was to take away guns because that is the preferred "means" of suicide however we have seen that attempt did nothing to reduce the suicide rate. By the way, this law was signed in 2008.

The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act (the “Act”) mandates that VA create and implement a comprehensive program to address the mental health problems of all veterans.

Congress expressed particular concern for “the special needs of veterans suffering from PTSD and the special needs of elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression,” the veteran populations most likely to commit suicide.

The program has six major components, detailed in section 3 of the Act:
(1) education for VA staff;
(2) increased emphasis on mental health
assessments for veterans;
(3) designation of suicide prevention counselors;
(4) research on veterans’ mental health issues;
(5) provision of round-theclock
mental health care; and
(6) outreach and education for veterans and their families.
The VA also “may provide for other actions to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans that the Secretary considers appropriate.”

Finally, Congress mandated that the VA report on the implementation status of the program, its estimated timeline for completion, the estimated costs of the program, and any additional actions deemed necessary to fully address veterans’ mental health issues.

If this veteran is upset by what happened then he needs to contact his friend because it is my guess the phone call set all of this off. He should thank him for caring that much about him because making that phone call is one of the hardest things a person does. They struggle with wondering if they are saving a life or ending a friendship. Then it dawns on them that if they don't make the call just in case their fears are justified, they would live with the guilt over not trying to save the life of someone they cared about.

Disabled Veteran David Schmecker: Thrown Into a Psych Ward for No Apparent Reason
by Renee Nal
April 03, 2013

David Schmecker, 50, is a disabled veteran with "no psychiatric history" who seemingly had his firearms confiscated and gun permit revoked in Connecticut for no apparent reason. It all started when he called the Veteran's Administration to get a follow-up appointment for a spinal injury.

George Hemminger of SurviveAndThriveTV interviewed the distraught Navy veteran who explained his story. Schmecker says that when the VA called back to schedule the appointment, he was informed that the appointment would entail a visit with a psychiatrist and a psychologist on top of his physical therapy and pain management session. As noted by Opposing Views, "It's not unusual for veterans to be asked to submit to a psychological evaluation when requesting pain medication due to the high rate of addiction." Regardless, Schmecker "refused" the mental health treatment, as he said the appointment was for a "spine injury." He indicates that after his refusal, "they never got back to me and they still haven't."
read more here

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Suicide Prevention? No amount of money can fix what failed already

With the posting of Senator Baucus Sponsored another Suicide Prevention Bill it is a good time to look back at other things our elected officials tried to do over the years. When you think of the millions of dollars spent repeating the same things over and over again yet discovering such deplorable results as increased military suicides along with attempted suicides, you should really be wondering when they will get a clue no amount of money can fix what has already failed.

The Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act

H.R. 327 would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to develop and implement a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Detailed Summary

(This measure has not been amended since it was passed by the Senate on September 27, 2007. The summary of that version is repeated here.)

Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act - Expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) suicide among veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious problem; and (2) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, in developing and implementing the comprehensive program outlined in this Act, should take into consideration the special needs of such veterans and of elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide.

Directs the Secretary to develop and carry out a comprehensive program designed to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. Requires the program to include: (1) mandatory training for appropriate staff and contractors of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) who interact with veterans; (2) mental health assessments of veterans; (3) designation of a suicide prevention counselor at each Department medical facility; (4) research on best practices for suicide prevention; (5) mental health care for veterans who have experienced sexual trauma while in military service; (6) 24-hour veterans' mental health care availability; (7) a toll-free hotline; and (8) outreach and education for veterans and their families.

Authorizes the Secretary to develop and carry a peer support counseling program as part of such program.

Requires the Secretary to report to Congress on the program.

Status of the Legislation

Latest Major Action: 10/24/2007: Presented to President.

Omission of Bean bill described as baffling
Holt and East Brunswick family vow to continue fight for improved veterans’ services

EAST BRUNSWICK — A bill named for a Middlesex County veteran and intended to strengthen treatment resources for returning soldiers will not be funded this year.

The bill’s sudden removal from the federal Defense Authorization Act of 2011 has angered a local family as well as Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), who introduced the legislation in honor of East Brunswick native, U.S. Army Sgt. Coleman Bean.

According to Holt, it was Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Ranking Member U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who yanked the measure, believing it to be unnecessary.

A call to McCain’s office requesting comment was not immediately returned.

“When I learned that Sen. McCain removed this provision at the last minute, I was furious,” Holt said. “A serious gap exists in military suicide prevention efforts — a gap that needlessly cost the life of one young central New Jersey resident.”

Coleman Bean took his life on Sept. 6, 2008, at the age of 25, a few months after returning from his second tour in Iraq. He had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after his first tour, but Bean had limited access to veterans services as a member of the U.S. Army’s Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) and was called back to duty without receiving treatment.

Armed Forces Suicide Prevention Act of 2011

For Immediate Release August 31, 2012
Fact Sheet: President Obama Signs Executive Order to Improve Access to Mental Health Services for Veterans, Service Members, and Military Families

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama will sign an Executive Order directing key federal departments to expand suicide prevention strategies and take steps to meet the current and future demand for mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.

Ensuring that all veterans, Active, Guard, and Reserve service members and their families receive the support they deserve is a top priority for the Obama Administration. Since September 11, 2001, more than two million service members have deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan with unprecedented duration and frequency. Long deployments and intense combat conditions require optimal support for the emotional and mental health needs of our service members and their families. The Obama Administration has consistently expanded efforts to ensure our troops, veterans and their families receive the benefits they have earned and deserve, including providing timely mental health service. The Executive Order signed today builds on these efforts.

President Obama’s Executive Order

The Executive Order signed by President Obama:

Strengthens suicide prevention efforts across the Force and in the veteran community: The Executive Order directs the VA to increase the VA veteran crisis line capacity by 50% by the end of the year.

Under the Executive Order, VA will ensure that any veteran identifying him or herself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional or trained mental health worker within 24 hours or less.

VA will work with the Department of Defense to develop and implement a national 12 month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services.

Enhances access to mental health care by building partnerships between VA and community providers:
In service areas where VA has faced challenges in hiring and placing mental health service providers and continues to have unfilled vacancies or long wait times, the Executive Order Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish at least 15 pilot sites. In pilot sites, VA will contract with community health centers, community mental health clinics, community substance abuse treatment facilities and other HHS grantees and community resources to help reduce VA mental health waiting lists. Under the Executive Order, HHS and VA will develop a plan for a rural mental health recruitment initiative to promote opportunities for VA and rural communities to share mental health providers when demand is insufficient for either to support a full-time provider.
Increases the number of VA mental health providers serving our veterans:
Under the Executive Order, VA will hire 800 peer-to-peer support counselors to empower veterans to support other veterans and help ensure that their mental health care and overall service needs are met. VA has launched an effort to hire 1,600 new mental health professionals to serve veterans. The Executive Order directs VA to use its pay-setting authorities, loan repayment and scholarships, partnerships with health care workforce training programs, and collaborative arrangements with community-based providers to recruit, hire, and place 1,600 mental health professionals by June, 2013. Since, 2009, the VA has expanded its mental health programs, hiring more than 3,500 mental health professionals since 2009.
Promotes mental health research and development of more effective treatment methodologies:
The Executive Order directs the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education to develop a National Research Action Plan that will include strategies to improve early diagnosis and treatment effectiveness for TBI and PTSD.

The Executive Order further directs the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services to conduct a comprehensive mental health study with an emphasis on PTSD, TBI, and related injuries to develop better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment options.
Launch a government-wide collaborative effort to address these issues through a Military and Veterans Mental Health Interagency Task Force:
The Executive Order establishes an Interagency Task Force, including the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, the Domestic Policy Council, National Security Staff, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which will make recommendations to the President on additional strategies to improve mental health and substance abuse treatment services for veterans, service members, and their families.

Supporting our Military, Veterans, and their Families
The President has taken key steps to protect and strengthen the health of our military, veterans and their families here at home. Many of these initiatives are supported by agencies across the federal government and collaborative partnerships with states and communities.

Health Care
For the first time ever, 135 medical schools have committed to exchanging leading research on PTSD and TBI and will also train future physicians to better understand veteran health needs. More than 150 state and national nursing organizations and over 650 nursing schools have committed to ensure our nation’s 3 million nurses are prepared to meet the unique health needs of veterans and their families by educating the current and future nurses of America to have a better understanding of PTSD and TBI.

President Obama signed the “caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010”, into law which helps our most seriously injured post-9/11 veterans and their family caregivers with a monthly stipend; access to health insurance; mental health services and counseling; and comprehensive VA caregiver training and respite care. The Department of Labor has proposed new regulations for the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to support military families and caregivers. This rule would implement statutory changes to the FMLA, expanding leave to family members caring for veterans who have suffered a serious injury or illness.

In July 2010, the VA published a historic change to its rules, streamlining the process and paperwork needed by combat veterans to pursue a claim for disability pay for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The VA expanded its workforce by over 2,600 people to handle applications for disability pay. The VA is also using technology and new approaches to help veterans get their benefits by accepting online applications for initial disability benefits, initiating an innovation competition, launching pilot initiatives, and investing over $128 million in a paperless Veterans Benefits Management System.

The administration is utilizing partnerships to reduce the stigma associated with seeking treatment for behavioral health issues. Make the Connection, a campaign launched by the Department of Veterans Affairs, is creating ways for veterans and their family members to connect with the experiences of other veterans and access the information and resources to help these families confront the challenges of transitioning from service to daily civilian life.

Licensing and Credentials
Nearly 35 percent of military spouses in the labor force require licenses or certification for their profession. Many military spouses hold occupational licenses and routinely move across state lines, causing licensing requirements to disproportionately affect the military spouse population. The First Lady and Dr. Biden encouraged all 50 governors to pass legislation by 2014 to reduce the financial and administrative strains that 100,000 military spouses incur from trying to get their state licenses or certification credentials to transfer from state to state as they move. Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden encouraged governors to take Action in February 2012 when only 11 states had legislation on the books. 26 states now have measures in place to support military spouses and the initiative is on-track to meet the 2014 goal.

The Department of Defense has awarded $180 million in grants to support military-connected public school districts. These grants support improved academic programs for military children. More than 400,000 students from military families across all grade levels are impacted by these grant projects.

The Department of Defense has awarded approximately $25 million to military-connected Local Education Agencies (LEAs) this summer to focus on increasing student achievement and easing transitions through research-based academic and support programs.

The Department of Defense, in collaboration with the Council of State Governments' (CSG) National Center for Interstate Compacts developed the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (the Compact) to address the educational transition issues of children of military families. The Compact covers transition issues including class placement, records transfer, immunization requirements, course placement, graduation requirements, exit testing, and extra-curricular opportunities. States adopt the Compact through legislation, and as a result, join the Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). To date, 39 states have approved the Compact and these states are home to 89 percent of school age children whose active duty parents are assigned to military installations in the United States. We will continue to work with leaders to encourage the 11 remaining states approve the Compact and become members of MIC3.

VA eased the Post-9/11 GI Bill application process within the eBenefits portal, including transferability to spouses or children for service members with over six years of service. Servicemembers can now apply on-line to transfer the benefits of their Post-9/11 GI Bill to eligible beneficiaries.

On top of the historic settlements completed by the Federal government and 49 state Attorneys General, major mortgage servicers will be providing relief to thousands of service member and veteran households. A review will be conducted of every service member household foreclosed upon since 2006. Those wrongly foreclosed upon will be compensated equal to a minimum of lost equity, plus interest and a refund for money lost because they were wrongfully denied the opportunity to reduce their mortgage payments. Additionally, these organizations will pay $10 million into a VA fund that guarantees loans on favorable terms for veterans.

The Administration is working to end veteran homelessness through leveraging broad support at Federal, State, and local levels in both the public and private sectors. Working with over 4,000 community agencies, the VA and HUD have successfully placed more than 37,000 veterans in permanent housing with dedicated case managers and access to high-quality VA health care since 2009. To ensure we reach out to our homeless veterans, the VA created a National Registry for Homeless Veterans and established a National Homeless Hotline. Veteran homelessness was reduced by nearly 12 percent between January 2010 and January 2011.

In 2011, VA helped save 72,391 Veteran and military borrowers with VA-guaranteed loans from foreclosure, a 10% increase from the prior year. VA has helped nearly 59,000 borrowers avoid foreclosure so far in 2012. The home loan guaranty program helps Veterans and their families purchase homes, often with no down payment required. The program expects to guaranty the 20 millionth loan in early November 2012.

Using their Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan, also known as the Streamline Refinance, VA refinances existing VA loans into new loans with lower interest rates, or adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) into fixed rate mortgages. In 2011, this program saved an average of $202 per month in individual payment reductions and 1.42% in interest rates. This equates to saving military and veterans $24 million a month and $293 million per year.

Financial Readiness
The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Financial Education and Financial Access has helped military families identify predatory lending practices. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) established an office of service member affairs to ensure that the CFPB addresses the financial challenges that confront military families and strengthens protections against abusive financial practices.

Friday, August 31, 2012

President Obama not waiting for congress to stop Military Suicides


We read the news about the troops and our veterans everyday, so while we are very well aware of what they come home to, you'd think the party claiming for so long they are "pro-military" would actually think about them enough to mention them during the convention that nominated the man they want to lead this whole nation including taking on the role of Commander-in-Chief.

They fight so hard for the wealthy and so hard against women's rights but they don't seem to take much interest in the men and women serving this country or the veterans.
Obama: ‘I Meant What I Said’ on War, Veterans’ Care
By Devin Dwyer
ABC News
Aug 31, 2012

FORT BLISS – President Obama told several hundred troops with the 1st Armored Division here that he kept his promises as commander in chief during the past three and a half years, ending the war in Iraq, drawing down forces in Afghanistan and redoubling care for returning veterans.

His record, he said, was proof that he can be trusted at the helm for four more years.

“I told the American people that all our troops would be out of Iraq by the end of [2011],” Obama said. “At the time I know some folks didn’t believe me. They were skeptical. Some thought the end of combat was just word games and semantics. But I meant what I said.”

“Two years ago I also told you that we’d keep up the fight in Afghanistan,” he said. “I’ve got to tell you the truth. This is still a very tough fight…. Just as in Iraq, we are going to end this war responsibly.”

The message, coming on the heels of the Republican National Convention and exactly two years after the U.S. ended combat operations in Iraq, was as much an appeal to war-weary voters as it was to the troops he leads. Both constituencies are seen as key voting blocs by Obama’s re-election campaign.

As Obama spoke, his top aides pointed out that campaign rival Mitt Romney made no mention of war – or the troops – in his prime time convention address on Thursday night. It was the first time since 1952 that a Republican nominee failed to mention war, even as the U.S. remains engaged in its longest, according to a review of historical transcripts by the Associated Press.

“In an almost 45-minute speech, Romney didn’t find a moment to mention our troops in Afghanistan or how we’re providing for our veterans when they return home,” said senior Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod. “So American people last night didn’t get any straight answers from Mitt Romney. They got nothing but evasion, distraction and insults.”
read more here

Obama to order VA to add staff, see suicidal vets within 24 hours
Stars and Stripes
Published: August 30, 2012

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will sign an executive order Friday directing the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand mental health services and suicide prevention efforts.

The president will make the announcement in a speech to troops at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he’ll also hold a roundtable with soldiers and their families.

Much of what's outlined in the executive order are initiatives that were previously announced earlier this summer by the VA.

Obama is instructing the VA to ensure that any veteran with suicidal thoughts is seen by a mental health professional within 24 hours -- a standard already set for the VA, but which the department often fails to meet.
read more here

There is a poll on this blog asking if Congress should be held accountable for military suicides or not. So far over 70% of the respondents voted YES.

The suicides have been going on for far too long with nothing substantial being done for their sake and they began before Obama took office. While Congress has passed bills to "stop" the suicides, they did not work. It is almost as if Congress felt they had to do something so they were willing to do anything to just show they cared.

The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill Oct 23, 2007 was passed but did not do enough to stop the suicides.
The House debates the Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Act, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to develop and implement a comprehensive program to reduce the incidence of suicide among veterans. The bill is named for an Iraq veteran who took his own life, and recognizes the special needs of veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and elderly veterans who are at high risk for depression and experience high rates of suicide. The bill follows hearings in the Oversight and Veterans Affairs committees seeking to address the tragic mental anguish experienced by many veterans, and is part of ongoing, comprehensive efforts by the new Congress to make veterans a top priority. Rep. Bruce Braley speaks in favor.

In 2011 they had to come out with Sgt. Coleman S. Bean Reserve Component Suicide Prevention Act

When I was a member of NAMI, I attended a conference when then Senator Obama was running for the Presidency. He sent an aid to address the conference. I asked why people like me were not used to help our veterans heal. She said she'd check it out but apparently when President Obama became Commander-in-Cheif, he didn't get the message. He didn't know how many people were working on Military PTSD and suicides all over the country. If he knew then he would have known that we had used 40 years worth of research to help us all come out with the best way to help our veterans heal. As for me, I've only been doing this for 30 years but I have also been living with it everyday. We could have made great progress in saving their lives if someone in Congress listened. But they held hearing after hearing on the problem and not on the solutions.

We can talk all we want about military suicides but no one has the real total of suicides simply because if they are no longer on active duty and do not have a VA claim, no one is counting them. No one is counting the deaths that could be suicide but could also be accidental. No one is asking why the Suicide Prevention Hotline gets so many calls, yet the suicides still went up. No one is asking why the Bills passed by Congress have not worked anymore than they are asking for any accountability from Congress.

President Obama has proven he cares about our veterans but Congress has not done the same. As the reports come out about Combat veterans surviving combat but dying back home by their own hands, no one is talking about the families and friends left behind or the fact they didn't know what they could have done to help.

The money for the VA budget comes from Congress and they control hiring. We can talk all we want about the wasted money on the conferences, but when we stop and think about how Congress has refused to hire enough workers to do the job, we should all be sick to our stomachs. We can talk about the Federal budget but then we won't look at our own State budget for the VA. But then again, they don't want us to think. They don't want us to think about the Military Suicide Prevention they have been pushing that is a failure under "resiliency" training.

He can enforce his directive all he wants but if they only have what they have already been given, it won't mean a damn thing to them. And I'll have to keep making videos like this one.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Veteran Declared ‘Mentally Defective,’ Has Guns Seized

The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Bill, passed by congress and signed by President Bush in 2007 is tied to this. The thought behind it was that if you have a veteran with PTSD and has to have someone else take care of their money, then they were unable to make sound decisions and should not have a weapon. What this did was cause a lot of fear for veterans with guns afraid they would have to give them up. They ended up not going for help from the VA. Would you rather have a veteran keep their guns and get the help they need to heal or have then need help but not go for it so they could keep that gun?

Veteran Declared ‘Mentally Defective,’ Has Guns Seized
News of similar case emerges day after release of Brandon Raub
Paul Joseph Watson
Friday, August 24, 2012

Just a day after Brandon Raub was released following his incarceration in a psychiatric ward over political Facebook posts, news has emerged of a similar case involving a veteran who had his guns seized after being labeled a “mental defective’ and faces being committed by a judge.

Radio host Steve Quayle was sent news of an Army combat veteran and Purple Heart recipient in west central Ohio who was the victim of a police raid on the evening of August 22nd during which Miami County Ohio Sheriff’s deputies executed a search warrant to seize the man’s firearms for the “safety of the defendant and the general public,” according to the warrant.

The veteran, who is currently unnamed, had his guns taken because he was adjudged to be mentally incompetent, despite the fact that his previous VA psychiatric evaluations were all clear, he is not on medication, and he had no criminal record. The man appears to be a respected member of the community – he works for a Christian company and his father is a police officer and a pastor.

“The person is under adjudication of mental incompetence, has been adjudicated as a mental defective, has been committed to a mental institution, has been found by a court to be a mentally ill person subject to hospitalization by court order, or is an involuntary patient other than one who is a patient only for purposes of observation.

As used in this division, “mentally ill person subject to hospitalization by court order” and “patient” have the same meanings as in section 5122.01 of the Revised Code,” states the warrant.
read more here

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What's the right answer with PTSD and gun rights?

What's the right answer with PTSD and gun rights?
Chaplain Kathie

I know a lot of veterans with PTSD and they own guns. For too many not receiving the help they need, having a gun helps them feel "protected" instead of being any kind of danger to themselves or others. While tracking PTSD reports across the country for all this time, I am also fully aware of the fact guns are used to end their pain as well as take the life of someone else when they "freak out" usually due to a flashback and other factors of PTSD. So what's the right answer? Is it to not allow them to have guns or would it be more appropriate to get them the help they need?

Not such a simple answer. When you consider some of the law makers wanting to do the right thing they need to look at the bigger picture. A knee jerk reaction is that it makes sense to take guns away but they need to look at what this ends up doing. It stops PTSD veterans from getting help because they don't want to give up their guns. Do you want them to have no help as PTSD gets worse while they have guns in the house?

I do presentations providing awareness of what PTSD is and what it does. Usually there is a question and answer time following the video. Most of the questions are about gun rights. This is not a good thing. Innocent civilians never being deployed into combat are victims of combat when PTSD takes hold and a veteran opens fire. They know how to use guns and they know how to hit what they aim for. After all, this is what kept them alive in combat. When they come home, they have relied on weapons to stay alive to the point where they cannot even think of being without their guns and knives. Weapons become a part of them and they would never think of leaving them behind or not having one within reach because in combat, every second brings more danger to them, then they take that thought into civilian life.

The best answer to this is to make sure every veteran with PTSD receives the help they need and this requires learning to live a peaceful life again. They cannot do this with medication alone. They need therapy provided by an expert dedicated to healing PTSD and not someone with such limited knowledge they can't even understand what PTSD is. Too often this is exactly what the veterans are getting.

The issue of them not being responsible for their financial affairs is connected to the majority of veterans with high PTSD scores. Short term memory loss and irrational thinking are parts of it as well, but just because they want to go out and spend money they can't afford or can't remember to pay a bill, that does not automatically make them dangerous to themselves or others.

When the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act was first being debated, my knee jerk reaction was supporting this effort. It made sense until it was pointed out to me that it could potentially cause more harm than good. I did not really understand how deep the need was to hang onto guns or how much this would hurt them emotionally. It was pointed out to me by one of my friends that they would end up feeling as if their time in combat meant nothing and that they were suddenly supposed to give up their rights just because they came home wounded by PTSD. PTSD hit them while they were in combat but they still had weapons, trusted to have the weapons and now when they are trying to live a relatively "normal" life again, they are supposed to give up their weapons leaving them feeling they are penalized for serving and risking their lives.

We read about veterans taking the life of someone else and think this is a huge problem. We read about them committing suicide with a gun but we fail to understand they find other ways. What we also fail to understand is that when we're talking about numbers measured by hundreds of thousands the percentage of veterans with PTSD using guns against someone else is low enough to show this is not the answer.

Bush Signs Joshua Omvig Veterans Suicide Prevention Bill into Law

The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act (H.R. 327) is designed to help address Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among veterans by requiring mental health training for Veterans Affairs staff; a suicide prevention counselor at each VA medical facility; and mental-health screening and treatment for veterans who receive VA care. It also supports outreach and education for veterans and their families, peer support counseling and research into suicide prevention. The VA had been implementing a number of these programs, but not in a timely manner, whereas the Joshua Omvig bill mandates these programs and subsequent deadlines as a means of expediting the process for returning veterans.

The rate of 18 veterans a day taking their own lives does however prove the need to be better at taking care of them overall not just those deemed too impaired to handle their own finances.

In a perfect world, all our veterans would receive whatever care they need to recover from physical and invisible wounds, would be able to have the financial security when their wounds prevent them from working and would find their families receiving the full support they need to care for them, but this is not a perfect world. Less than half of PTSD veterans seek help to heal even though the sooner they seek help the better the outcome, they fight against getting help, partly because of the stigma but also because they do not trust the government to deliver anything. Can you blame them?

Depending on what part of the country they live in, their claims can be harder to have approved, harder to get to care and harder to find the best care. Even when you look at the National Guards, you'll find some states ahead of the rest with programs to address PTSD and suicides. The Montana National Guards efforts prove this and this program is being taken to a national level, but in between then and now, the Montana National Guardsmen are able to use this program while other National Guardsmen are receiving very little. Then there is the issue of the backlog of claims along with denials. There are too many obstacles already.

Threatening veterans to take away their guns ends up making sure less veterans seek help for PTSD and with the system the way it is, they don't need one more reason to stay away from the VA.

Bill protects rights of wounded veterans

It is clear from your recent editorial about S. 669, the Veterans' Second Amendment Protection Act, that you took the time to read the talking points of an organization opposed to my legislation, but never bothered to actually read the bill. I welcome the opportunity to inform your readers what it really does.

The Veterans' Second Amendment Protection Act requires a judicial process, rather than a bureaucratic one, to determine whether or not veterans are a danger to themselves or others before stripping them of their constitutional rights. These men and women are the only recipients of federal benefits who are automatically deprived of a constitutional right solely because they've been appointed a fiduciary, regardless of the reason. Recipients of Social Security and other federal benefits are not subject to such arbitrary decisions.

You wrote that the current process is "not easy." You are correct in one regard. While it is quite easy for VA to add a veteran--and family members--to the NICS list, it is extremely difficult for a veteran to appeal that decision. Just ask Corey Briest, a veteran who was severely wounded in Iraq. Corey's wife Jennifer, his fiduciary, wrote to me that a VA field examiner admonished them to rid the house of their guns or they could be prosecuted. Never mind that Corey was encouraged to hunt as part of his rehabilitation, and never mind that he owns a heirloom rifle, handed down to him by his grandfather (also a veteran) that Corey wanted to pass on to his son. And never mind that no one bothered in the first place to assess whether Corey was a danger to himself or anyone else.
read more here
Bill protects rights of wounded veterans