Showing posts with label veteran suicides. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veteran suicides. Show all posts

Monday, September 20, 2021

100,000 LGBT veterans get justice

There have been a lot of reports over the years about veterans committing suicide. What the reporters leave out, among many, is the fact that if you are not "honorably" discharged, you are not counted as a veteran on anything. The news that LGBTQ+ are having other than honorable discharges changed, is a blessing, however, most of us are wondering what happens to the families when it is too late to honor the service of those who have committed suicide. What is justice for them?

The VA is aware of the problem these veterans have when they manage to get an honoranble discharge. LGBTQ+ Veteran Suicide Prevention proves that, but while today may seem like vindication for up to 100,000, what good does it do to those who are no longer alive because of the way they were treated?

What does justice look like for them?

Biden recognizes the 10th anniversary of 'don't ask, don't tell' repeal
Biden said that many of those veterans received what are known as “other than honorable” discharges, which excluded "them and their families from the vitally important services and benefits they had sacrificed so much to earn."

LGBT vets with other than honorable discharges will get VA benefits under new plan

Military Times
By Leo Shane III
September 17, 2021

Tens of thousands of LGBT veterans forced from the military for their sexual orientation and given other-than-honorable discharges will be able to receive full Veterans Affairs benefits despite their dismissal status under a new move set to be announced Monday.

The change comes as the country approaches the 10th anniversary of repeal of the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” law which forced nearly 14,000 service members out of the ranks for admitting their sexual orientation.

But the impact of the new VA announcement goes further than just those individuals, to potentially include troops who served before and after the law who may have been given bad performance reviews or intimidated into leaving the military because of their LGBT status.

Outside advocates estimate as many as 100,000 over the last 70 years may have been involuntarily separated from the military based on their sexual orientation. Data on how many received other-than-honorable discharges is not available.
read more here

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

the oldest pandemic this nation has ever seen

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 22, 2021

Last year I went to the New Hampshire veterans cemetery for the first time on Memorial Day. As I walked around, I thought about all the veterans in my family who passed away, as well as the two veterans I was walking with. My husband and his best friend are both Vietnam veterans.

When I came upon this memorial, I had to catch a couple of tears falling. The empty place where the service member is saluting, got to me.

It was around that time when I was debating about giving up working with veterans. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I knew, it seemed as if I was fighting everyone I knew in the veteran community. Most of them were latched onto the slogan of "22 a day" and wouldn't let go of the notion that suicide awareness was a good thing to do. How could they believe that letting suicidal veterans hear about others giving up would offer them anything but more despair?

It was too late to change their minds and I had been doing this work for too long to be able to deal with the deadly results of ignorance. My heart was being ripped out every time I read another report of another suicide.

No one wanted to hear what needed to be done, anymore than they wanted to hear about the decades of failures to address the oldest pandemic this nation has ever seen...suicides carried out by those who valued the lives of others so much so, they were willing to die to save them.

I got into all of this in 1982 and focused on Vietnam veterans with PTSD, but the truth is, they had only become the latest generation to join the others going back to when this nation began. What I didn't know back then was there would be more wars. 

It felt as if I was fighting this one all alone as soon as people started to read news reports in 2012. Soon after that, the awareness groups started popping up and eroding the ability for veterans to find people like me.

And now, maybe you'll understand why I gave up on what I had dedicated my life to almost 4 decades ago.

Active-duty suicide numbers level off after summer spike, but reserves soar published April 5, 2021 on Military Times.
While active-duty suicides jumped about 8 percent overall last year ― to 377 total, compared to a 7-percent jump the previous year, or 348 total ― the final months of last year saw a leveling-off of that worrisome summer spike, with 99 total suicides from October to December, compared to 100 during the same period in 2019.

The reserve component, on the other hand, held steady in the first nine months of the year, before exploding with deaths by suicide in the fall and winter ― a 128-percent spike, from 25 deaths in late 2019 to 57 in late 2020. Most of that spike was concentrated in the National Guard, which went from 14 suicides to 39 during the same period; 23 of those deaths were in the Army National Guard, specifically.

Yesterday published this....Since 9/11, Suicide Has Claimed Four Times More Military Lives Than Combat
In a paper released Monday as part of its Costs of War series, Brown's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs estimates that 30,177 active-duty personnel and veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken their own lives over the last nearly 20 years.

That is far greater than the 7,057 service members who died in war operations since 9/11, the institute said in the report, "High Suicide Rates Among United States Service Members and Veterans of the Post-9/11 Wars."
But Congress kept writing more bills and people kept pretending that it was all so important to them that they never once opened their eyes to change the outcome to anything but worse.

If you want to get hope back, and change the conversation from doom and gloom, read PTSD Patrol website and blog. Go to Facebook PTSD Patrol 

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 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

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!

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Wounded Times filmed the original push up fundraiser

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 29, 2020

As stated when I stopped publishing daily on Wounded Times, it would be updated at will.

This is why, after 38 years, I was forced to give up trying to help veterans! Dealing with this #FUBAR is BS!

In 2012, the Veterans’ Administration (VA) released a Suicide Data Report that found an average of 22 veterans die by suicide everyday. The 22KILL initiative started in 2013, at first just as a social media movement to raise awareness, and later became an official 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in July of 2015.
Keep in mind that I have done all this work for no financial support. I was actually losing money for the last several years and I didn't care. The goal was to help them heal and give them hope. Groups like that one, robbed them of that.

Aside from the investigations this site did, not just proving the number itself was fictitious, it did not help veterans learn why they should stay alive. 

Countless articles and videos later, veterans were having a harder time finding people like me. I was ready to deal with the hatred I found when I addressed this online. So were a lot of other people.

Task and Purpose writer Carl Forsling took a good look at this group back in August of 2016.

Likewise, awareness doesn’t do much. You can know a problem exists. That doesn’t mean you are any closer to solving the problem. There are a lot of diseases and societal issues with different color ribbons and special days for awareness, but not a lot of solutions. Veterans dying by suicide has been all over the news since the Department of Veterans Affairs scandal broke in April 2014.

Some might say that awareness of veteran suicide might help prevent more suicides. How? How many hashtags and social media posts identify warning signs to look for in friends and coworkers? How many identify resources for veterans in distress to seek help? How many explain that the latest report found of the 20 veterans a day who died by suicide in 2014, 65% of them were 50 years of age or older?

In fact, the 22 Pushups Challenge may have actually hindered solving the problem of veteran suicide. If people think they’ve done their part to help by just posting to social media and don’t follow up with actually doing something to help veterans, then an opportunity to achieve real change has been squandered. Awareness is nice, but action is essential. 
So now I'm going to give you best reason of all. No matter how many other videos I did on PTSD and suicide, this was the top one. 

It went up in 2012 and has been viewed 68,557 times as of right now, 12:14 July 29, 2020. It went up on September 15, 2012.

In June of 2020, after a "friend" and I recorded a radio show, all he wanted to talk about was groups using raising awareness that veterans were killing themselves and the stupid number. That was the beginning of the end for me.

By July, I had given up my work with Point Man and my tax exempt. I closed my bank account and turned in the keys to my post office box.

After surviving traumatic events over 10 times as a civilian, along with my research on PTSD, I decided that it would be better for everyone if I focused on everyone dealing with PTSD. With over 8 million Americans struggling, the pandemic, recession, protests and financial struggles, it is going to get worse for everyone.

The truth is, since I was ahead of everyone on veterans with PTSD, what it was doing to families like mine, ahead of the rise in suicides before anyone was putting any of it together, ahead on the necessity to address the mind-body and spirit, along with everything else, getting ahead on this one, was just one more in a series of foresight.  

Friday, May 29, 2020

"What am I going to do now with my life?" Rory Hamill

Decorated combat vet who died highlights pandemic's effect on mental health

CBS News
May 28, 2020
"So when the lockdown did happen, it stripped him from everything he knew," Franciose told CBS News. "He couldn't do his public speaking. He couldn't go to school, to his outlet away from his own mind."
Washington — Rory Hamill was a father of three and a decorated combat veteran in the Marines. Hamill lost his life not at war — but in a growing mental health crisis that's being made worse by the deadliest public health crisis in a century. Hamill was one of many veterans who've been suffering.
"He was a hero to many people," Kristal Franciose said of her ex-husband, Marine Corporal Rory Hamill. A blast from an IED in Afghanistan in 2011 robbed him of his right leg. Hamill had a hard road home.
"A lot of the thoughts going through my head were, 'Why didn't I die?' What am I going to do now with my life?'" He told "60 Minutes" in 2015.
read it here

I wrote about Rory's suicide with a broken heart. Isolation sucks for people like him who have devoted their lives to help others. Knowing what pain is and what hope offers is not something easily walked away from.

I know because I have been doing it since 1982 and could not walk away no matter how many times I wanted to. Not doing what I believe I was put on this earth to do, rips me apart everyday. I keep wondering what else I can do to replace what I can no longer do, and at the end of the day, I do not go to sleep with the peace of knowing I did the best I could. Sure I know that these are unusual times and groups endanger the lives of others, but the human contact is vital, especially now.

If you are a veteran or family member, reach out to those willing and ready to help you. Find help that is out there! Use your phone or email. Find us, because if you are hurting, so are we because you are!

Email me at or call me 407-754-7526.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

"22" is not honorable for Memorial Day or any other day!

Dishonoring their lives on Memorial Day

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 19, 2020

If you hate it when I won't like this one! My anger is directed toward all the people out there participating in spreading the lie that 22 veterans a day commit suicide. If you are one of them, doing your pushups, thinking that you are helping, you are not. You may feel good about doing it, but the only people you are helping are the ones collecting the money you raise for them!

I have been fighting that ear worm since the report came out and it is time for more people to do whatever it takes to stop this bullshit! The known cases have gone up since suicide awareness started. It has only made them aware of other veterans giving up when they need to be made aware that their lives can be a hell of a lot better than they are aware of!
York police raise suicide awareness with 22 push-ups per day
YORK, Maine — The York Police Department has entered a challenge to complete 22 push-ups for 22 days to bring awareness to veteran and law enforcement suicides. An estimated 22 veterans die by suicide each day, according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. That has given rise to a national movement to bring awareness to veteran suicide and those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
York residents are encouraged to film themselves and participate in the push-up challenge using the hashtag #22yorkmaine on social media, according to the department’s Facebook page
I am a fan of the police officers but not this stunt!

Fact on veterans committing suicide
Report came from limited data from just 21 states.

From page 15

Are we preventing suicides or preventing the truth? Shouldn't facts matter? Should the fact that suicide is contagious matter? Telling a veteran, or anyone else, that there are a lot more taking their own lives, does nothing to help them want to stay alive. You are robbing them of hope and a reason to seek help to heal.

Good motives do not replace good results. If the did then you would not be seeing an increase in suicides among law enforcement, but none of you are doing pushups for your own house!
Police Officer Suicide Facts
At least 228 police officers died by suicide in 2019, Blue H.E.L.P. says. That's more than were killed in the line of duty. USA Today

I have a list of names on this site because they were not just numbers. Officers doing pushups for a fictitious number of veterans committing suicide does not make sense when their own numbers have been going up. How many more officers have to take their own lives in the parking lots of Police stations before you guys wake up? 

What will it take for you to grasp the fact that if you #BreakTheSilence about your own pain, you will help them? What if instead of hearing how many others have committed suicide, you turned it around and told them #TakeBackYourLife so that they would want to fight to heal instead of not trusting you to listen to them? They trust you with their lives on the job but they cannot trust you with their pain? WTF? 

Any idea of the fact that the people who started all this push up bullshit just decided one day to "do something" about it without finding out what needed to be done? MY GOD! I did the first report on veterans committing suicide back in 2007!
I admire police officers because there are many times you have saved my life! I survived traumatic events that could have killed me 10 times and most of the time, you guys saved me. It breaks my heart to see so many of you take your own lives because of the jobs you have but when there is still this massive failure going on when it comes to saving the people you risk your lives with, there is no excuse. It is even more infuriating to see all of you participating in this stunt that has been a failure and spreads pain.

If you really want to make a difference, learn some facts and then support the groups doing what they can to actually PREVENT SUICIDES!

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Rory Hamill cautionary story about when helpers need help too

When the helpers cannot help

Sarasota Herald Tribune
By Billy Cox
Staff Writer
Posted May 17, 2020

It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going to happen — emotionally, psychologically, to the public at large — once the coronavirus infections began their roller-coaster ascent in March, igniting shelter-in-place rules. 
SARASOTA — “I began writing at 3:46 in the morning on April 19, 2020. I’ve been drunk on red wine since the previous night. I haven’t slept. I haven’t stopped suffering. My own personal hell has been reignited, in light of present circumstances affecting us all.”

Motivational speaker Rory Hamill was losing altitude. The disabled Marine corporal had been here before, back in 2012, as he sat in his car, contemplated his gun, round chambered. Thoughts of his children pulled him back from the brink.

Hamill swerved from the abyss into public service, promoting his own resilience as an example for others. He was determined to keep a record of that journey, even amid the downward spiral of gravity.

“This pandemic,” Hamill pressed on last month, “although viral in nature, alludes to what happens to us as human beings, when we are stripped of our outlets and are deprived of our ability to socialize.”

When the news of Hamill’s suicide rippled out of New Jersey last week, the loss scattered shock waves across many of the 45,000 nonprofits dedicated to supporting America’s veterans. Hamill’s record still lingers in cyberspace, through videos, newspaper articles, a “60 Minutes” interview, and exhortations on his website:

“In light of my injuries, I learned that helping others, helps myself. No obstacle is impassable; by endurance, we conquer.”

Hamill, 31, encountered the impassable obstacle amid the national isolation. And as a result, everyone is taking inventory of mental health issues inside their own military circles.

“The wounded veteran community is fairly tight-knit, and when something like this happens, the word gets out,” said Kevin Kenney, an Army veteran and director of Operation Patriot Support (OPS) in Bradenton.
read it here

Also Combat wounded veteran Rory Hamill inspired others to live on...until he lost his own battle
On March 14, 2020 I posted a warning about the need to take action to help veterans with PTSD during isolation. I was thinking more about older veterans, since most of them are not online.

Suicides end when others break their own silence

Miracles after attempted suicides prevented

PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
May 17, 2020

Stories collected from Wounded Times

In 2007, Owen Wilson attempted suicide and it was big news, and spread around the world. At the same time, we were facing 948 attempted active duty suicides, along with 99 who lost their lives. It was also the year when many survivors faced charges. A female reservists was facing charges after she survived. She tired again, and again, she survived. The charges against her were dropped and her story showed that her mental health crisis had been pushed aside by her superiors.
"I Sat around numerous times with a .44 in my mouth. But for some reason, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I don't know why." said a 57 year old veteran who had attempted it three more times.
Not long afterwards reports of veterans attempted suicides had grown more than "patient count" in the VA. The eyeopener in this piece of news was the age groups who topped the numbers from 2000-2007. 20-24 year old attempts went from 11 to 47 per year. 55-59 year old attempts also went up from 19 to 117.

By April of 2008, the reports on attempted suicides were increased to 1,000 per month in the VA system.

And then something amazing started to happen. Veterans were talking about their own pain so that others would understand it is not all doom and gloom. 

Two years later, veterans were trying to do whatever they could to change the outcome and encourage veterans to seek healing instead of suffering. That is what Jeremiah Workman did as the recipient of the Navy Cross.
He went on to write "Shadow of the Sword: A Marine's Journey of War, Heroism, and Redemption"
read more here

Monday, May 11, 2020

UK:Ministry of Defence shut down a phone hotline for veterans just as need for help increased

Suicidal military veterans desperate for help as support calls triple during lockdown

The Mirror
BySean Rayment
10 MAY 2020

Rifleman Nathan Worner, 20, of the Rifles Regiment, was found dead at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, last week.
Simon Maryan of Icarus Online (Image: Icarus Online)

Calls for help from mentally traumatised military veterans have soared by 100 per cent since the start of the lockdown, the Sunday People can reveal.

Support groups have been inundated with calls from suicidal veterans and current troops struggling to cope with isolation caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Many of those seeking help have mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Two veterans and a serving member of the Army have taken their lives in the past two weeks.

The deaths bring to at least 22 the number of veterans and serving members who are believed to have killed themselves since the start of the year.
The mental health crisis comes just weeks after the Ministry of Defence shut down a phone hotline for veterans and told them to ring the Samaritans instead.

The MoD has also stopped ­taking compensation claims from troops and veterans suffering from mental health conditions and physical injuries.
read it here

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Scots wounded war heroes had been failed by the Government

Ray of hope as Scots armed forces veterans wait two years for a mental health plan

Herald Scotland
By Martin Williams
Senior News Reporter
May 8, 2020
Earlier this week the military support group All Call Signs rescued five suicidal veterans during lockdown and issued a warning that more lives are at risk.
Ray of hope as Scots armed forces veterans wait two years for a mental health plan
ARMED forces veterans are facing a threat from an enemy they cannot see.

That threat is mental illness - and can deal a fatal blow long after a soldier has left the theatre of war and the military.

While Scottish armed forces veterans have waited over two years for a recommended mental health plan after concerns over suicides - a Scottish university is now playing a key role in a new UK-wide study on the psychological health and wellbeing of families of ex-service men and women.

Two years ago, a report by Eric Fraser, the first Scottish veterans commissioner revealed Scots wounded war heroes had been failed by the Government and a covenant to protect them was “meaningless”.
read it here

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Combat Wounded Veteran Rory Hamill inspired others to live on....until he lost his own battle

UPDATE: Do not become one more

Last night I could not get this story out of my mind. We loose too many people who decide their lives toward helping others, only to give up on themselves. This is not easy but it can be easier if you are willing to follow your own advice and ask for help when you need it!

If you are struggling to understand how this can happen, it is because those who put others first, put themselves last. That also includes asking for help when they need it. We need to do a lot more on encouraging veterans like Rory Hamill to follow their own advice before we continue to lose more like him.

Veterans Mourn, Outraged After Death of Another Decorated Local Marine Corps Combat Veteran

Shore News Network
May 3, 2020

OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – Rory Hamill served with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines during his combat deployment to Afghanistan in in 2009. He returned home from war as an amputee and went on to become a veteran’s mental health advocate. Hammil was a motivational speaker and veteran mentor with the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Veteran’s Diversion Program. After returning home from Afghanistan, Hammil went to college and earned a degree in social sciences.
“Today, I learned that my friend, Rory Patrick Hamill, took his life yesterday,” said his close friend Jase Wheeler. “Have no idea what triggered him, but can say, I totally understand what it’s like when you battle PTSD on a daily basis. Add to that, the fact we have to quarantine, change every part of our daily routine, can’t get out to see friends, unable to do all the things that allow us to de-stress. It’s brutal. He was a father of 3, a motivational speaker, a hero and a friend.” read it here

Still pushing: Cpl. Rory Hamill
Story by Master Sgt. Matt Hecht
New Jersey National Guard

“All this stuff started coming out a few years ago,” said Hamill. “I thought I was fine, but it took me some time to realize things weren’t alright.”

His past deployment experiences coupled with his injuries caused Hamill a deep depression that led to alcohol abuse and a feeling suicidal. He knew he needed to turn a corner in his life.

“After one bad night, I found myself looking into the mirror, and realized that I needed to figure this out for my kids,” said Hamill. “They’re the driving force in my life.”

In addition to his kids, the other driving force in Hamill’s life is a calling to help fellow veterans.

“I don’t like quitting, at all,” said Hamill. “Call it pure stubbornness, but I don’t like giving up. I’ve always been told I can’t do stuff my entire life. It’s made me want to prove people wrong.”
read it here

Friday, May 1, 2020

Yes we can prevent veteran suicides

Preventing suicides is only impossible if we do nothing

Over half a lifetime ago, I started working with veterans with PTSD and their families. Why? Because it was a matter of life or death. Over the years it became apparent that peer support worked best, but having an educated peer was better than anything else.

Want to change a life? Learn what PTSD is and then start to change the conversation from doom and gloom, to "adapt, improvise and overcome!"

That is what Point Man International Ministries started to do in 1984 and proved healing was possible when people are joined together to open doors few knew existed.

Can community engagement prevent veteran suicides?

VAntage Point
Mike Richman
April 29, 2020
Specifically, the team interviewed participants within a week of their discharge from an inpatient psychiatric unit. They discovered Veterans analyzed for psychiatric conditions, such as PTSD, are at much greater risk than other cohorts of taking their own lives within three months after leaving the hospital.
Social isolation and feelings of loneliness are associated with suicidal thoughts. Consequently, the more people feel disconnected from their friends, peers and colleagues, the more isolated they become.

One antidote for social isolation is social connectedness. That is, people coming together and interacting. But there's been little research on suicide prevention programs that target social connectedness.

Dr. Jason Chen of the VA Portland Health Care System is leading a study to establish a stronger sense of social connectedness for Veterans at high risk of suicide. He's doing this by increasing their participation in community activities.

Chen and his team have been identifying the community engagement needs and preferences of Veterans who have been hospitalized and evaluated for psychiatric conditions. Specifically, the team interviewed participants within a week of their discharge from an inpatient psychiatric unit. They discovered Veterans analyzed for psychiatric conditions, such as PTSD, are at much greater risk than other cohorts of taking their own lives within three months after leaving the hospital.
read it here on We Are The Mighty

Monday, April 20, 2020

That’s the day Iraq War Veteran Mitch Olson died by suicide

A special honor for a fallen young veteran amid COVID-19 restrictions

KARE 11 News
Boyd Huppert
April 14, 2020
Against that backdrop – the pain, the quiet and a family deprived of a proper military service – on Saturday, motorcycle riders with the American Legion, Combat Veterans Association and the Veterans of Foreign Wars rode in.

MINNETONKA, Minn — Fifteen miles of social distance from Fort Snelling National Cemetery, a military family grieves in the age of COVID-19.

No hugs, no graveside service, no 21-gun salute.

Just the worst pain possible, made impossibly worse.

“Mitchell's my younger brother,” Casey Olson says, standing near the flag her family flies next to the porch. “This is where we grew up, my parents have been here since 1979.”

Since March 30th, the house has never felt quieter.

That’s the day Iraq War Veteran Mitch Olson died by suicide.
read it here

Do not leave your family and friends in this kind of pain. There is hope if you #BreakTheSilence and #TakeBackYourLife you can heal PTSD

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Veteran Green Beret with PTSD passed out instead of pulling shares something so much better

Smith didn't pull the trigger because he was so drunk and passed out

Green Beret who put a gun in his mouth while surrounded by booze at his lowest point reveals cannabis helped his crippling PTSD - and now he's selling CBD to help struggling veterans who turn to opioids
Daily Mail
18 April 2020
Adam Smith spent 17 years as a Green Beret in the US Army and special forces fighting terrorists and drug cartels in the most dangerous places on earth. But it was in a small cab in Lexington, Kentucky, where he came closest to dying - surrounded by empty bottles of booze, a suicide note and with a pistol in his mouth
Adam Smith spent 17 years as a Green Beret in the US Army and special forces
Brushes with death were common during his daring operations
But it was in a small cab in Lexington, Kentucky, where he came closest to dying
He was surrounded by booze, a suicide note and with a pistol in his mouth
Smith didn't pull the trigger because he was so drunk and passed out
Instead of using alcohol to self-medicate, he turned to cannabis and CBD
He's now launched a CBD line, Tactical Relief, for veterans and first responders
Says it helps with symptoms of PTSD and is a better alternative to the powerful opioids some struggling veterans are prescribed More than 20 veterans and active duty soldiers commit suicide a day in the US

The day after his suicide attempt he arranged to get a beer with a Navy special warfare friend who offered him a chance to train law enforcement in Ohio.

He joined a tactical training company, joined a CrossFit gym and saw his life turn around.

Then he found a solution to ease his trauma in a place he hadn’t thought possible - a cannabis dispensary in Washington state.

He was on a cross-country cycling trip with a friend who had issues with panic attacks and they stopped in.

‘I bought a little, and that night I smoked for the first time. You want to talk about eye opening? I slept better, had less anxiety, felt more at ease, didn’t have any nightmares and seemed to have an extra tick in my anger clock.’
read it here

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

War veteran Jesse Bird took his own life after system failed him

Afghanistan veteran who died surrounded by his own medals was 'failed by the system' when his PTSD wasn't recognised, coroner rules

7 April 2020
War veteran Jesse Bird took his own life after system failed him, a coroner ruled
Found dead in his home in 2017 after department rejected pleas for help
Coroner ruled there was 'a lack of care, attention and proactive support for him
Department of Veterans' Affairs will consider and respond to Coroner's findings

Mr Bird's ex-girlfriend Connie Boglis (pictured with Jesse) has previously slammed the Department of Veterans' Affairs over the lack of support to him. He took his own life after the system failed him, a Coroner has ruled
'There appeared to be a lack of care, attention and proactive support, leaving Jesse with the belief that the only choice he had was to give up,' the Coroner said.

A young war veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder when he returned from serving in Afghanistan took his own life after the system failed him, a coroner has ruled.

Former Australian Army private Jesse Bird, 32, was found dead in his Melbourne home in June 2017 after the Department of Veterans' Affairs knocked back multiple pleas for assistance.

He had $5.20 in his bank account at the time of his death, which came weeks after he was informed by the department his permanent impairment claim had been rejected.
read it here

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Increase in calls to Veterans Crisis Line during COVID-19 isolation

Wounded Times saw this one coming!

Pandemic prompts an increase in calls to Veterans Crisis Line

Published: March 24, 2020

“We are highly concerned over the likelihood the suicide crisis is deepening,” said Joe Chenelly, national executive director of AMVETS. "The combination of required physical isolation, the worry about getting sick, and the economic turbulence has the potential to be devastating.”
WASHINGTON — Calls to the Veterans Crisis Line have increased since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs confirmed Monday.

The crisis line, a suicide prevention tool for veterans and their families, has experienced a 12% increase in call volume, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told veterans organizations on a call Sunday. About 20% of recent calls to the hotline were related to the pandemic, the VA press secretary confirmed.
The VA posted to its website a list of recommendations for veterans who are anxious about the pandemic. They suggested staying connected with friends and family over the phone and on social media, meditating, reducing their news consumption before going to sleep, doing activities they enjoy, focusing on what they can control, eating a balanced diet and exercising, among other things. read it here
And here is the post, Isolated veterans need help during COVID-19

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

U.S. Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and as police officer committed suicide in lobby

When a veteran commits suicide at a VA, it is a scream for help for others before it is too late for them. When a police officer does it at the station, it is for the same reason. So when exactly do we allow that scream to motivate us to actually do something?

Former Euclid Police officer commits suicide in department's lobby

News Herald
Staff report
Mar 23, 2020
Gauntner was a decorated police officer and is a U.S. Marine veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He had been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, according to a previous News-Herald article.
Todd Gauntner a former Euclid Police officer, committed suicide March 23 in the department's lobby. In 2019, Gauntner, left, was sentenced to five days in jail for brandishing a gun at two men during a 2018 bar fight in Willoughby. News-Herald file

Former Euclid Police Officer Todd Gauntner came to the Euclid Police Department lobby at 3 a.m., March 23, and committed suicide, the department announced in a news release.

He made no attempt to hurt anyone other than himself and no one else was injured, the release stated.
read it here

Friday, March 13, 2020

Founder of Veteran Outreach Program Dealing With Loss Of His Own

Veteran Suicide Hits Home for Founder of Veteran Outreach Program

NBC 2 News
By: Chris DiMaria
Mar 13, 2020
"It broke me down. It broke me down bad. Because I was thinking to myself, if I can't even help my own cousin, how can I help my fellow veterans? I felt like a failure, I felt angry, because why didn't he reach out to me?" Lezama wondered.

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — A Green Country veteran, hoping to save the lives of his fellow vets, was hit by tragedy when he learned his cousin had taken his own life.

Victor Lezama spent 10 years in the Army and 10 years in the Marines, doing two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, his image is to help fellow veterans get back on their feet, by opening The Barracks in Muskogee.

Just before The Barracks were set to open, Lezama's cousin, Gil Ortiz, took his own life. Ortiz was a service member of 17 years, and was a husband and father of three.

"This is a man who was there when my daughter passed away. Our wives were pregnant together," Lezama recalled. "I'm reading through these text messages seeing if there's any kind of clue. A reach out for help or something because he knew what we were doing."
read it here

Victor Lezama, I do not know if you will ever read this or not but I have to try. Wanting to help veterans is a wonderful thing. The problem is, too many want to help, but do not know how to do it. I've been doing this since 1982, so when I say what has to be said, please consider that this is directed to everyone wanting to make a difference.

Stop doing what you are doing until you are honestly prepared to do it. 

Make sure you have all the knowledge you need, before you even decide to do this work. 

Make sure that you have the resources set up in case you get over your head and need to send the veteran for more help than you can give.

Make sure you have your own resources for when you are overwhelmed and need to talk to someone to help you, especially when you lose someone you know.

You also have to face that fact that you will not be able to save all of them. That is something I know all too well when we lost my husband's nephew. I never could find the right words he needed to hear before he would listen to anything else I had to say to him. 

Your cousin knew you were there and it was up to him to ask you for help. It is something that you will never totally let go of, but let that motivate you to keeping on with the work you do so that others willing to seek help will find it.

No matter how many times I read something like this, and the dagger hits my heart all over again emotionally, I do not regret trying to save as many as possible. There is nothing like turning a life around and seeing joy come back into their lives again. If I can help you in anyway, please call 407-754-7526 or email You can also find Point Man International Ministries to help you in your area.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Spreading suicide awareness spreads more suicides of younger veterans and older ones too!

If you still think that the groups raising awareness veterans are killing themselves is a good thing...YOU ARE NOT THINKING AT ALL!

Suicide remains growing challenge for younger veterans, survey shows

Military Times
Leo Shaqne III
March 1, 2020

The number of young veterans who know someone who has died by suicide or considered harming themselves both increased significantly in recent years according to just-released annual membership survey of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, another sign of the mental health struggles facing the military community.
An excerpt from the annual Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America member survey released on March 4, 2020. More than two-thirds of individuals who participated said they know a fellow veteran who attempted suicide. (Courtesy of IAVA)
Of the more than 1,700 veterans who participated in the questionnaire, more than two-thirds said they know at least one post-9/11 veteran who has attempted suicide. Nearly as many — 62 percent — said that they have lost a fellow young veteran to suicide.

Six years ago, only about 40 percent of members surveyed said they knew of a fellow veteran’s suicide.
read it here

Time to stop spreading misery and start spreading hope!

When will people wake up? What will it take for veterans to stop being treated like they are not worth every effort to let them know they can heal...they do not deserve to suffer...they are not broken and their lives are not hopeless?

As long as all this crap taking over social media is support, they will lose whatever shard of hope they have left and become one of the ones everyone is talking about, raising money talking about something they have no clue about and increasing their numbers of those we failed!

Monday, March 2, 2020

UK still unsure what to do to stop military suicides after cluster in 2 months

More than a dozen former British soldiers who fought in Afghanistan kill themselves within two months

The Independent
Kate Ng
2 hours ago
The recent spate of suicides will expedite government plans for new mental health services for veterans which are due to begin in April and will complement NHS programmes on problems like PTSD, addiction and debt, The Times reported Mr Mercer as saying.

A soldier from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment Fusiliers leaves the security of the camp walls to conduct a dawn foot patrol in the Nahr-e Saraj district, Helmand Province, Afghanistan ( PA )
More than a dozen former British soldiers who fought in Afghanistan have died by suicide in a short period of time, it has been reported.

The Times reported that some 14 former and serving army personnel are thought to have killed themselves in the past two months.

MP Johnny Mercer told the newspaper in an interview he was concerned over the cluster of deaths involving a “specific unit that served at a specific time in Afghanistan… the bloodiest time”.

The Minister for Defence People and Veterans was referring to veterans involved in Operation Herrick, which is the codename for all British operations conducted between 2002 and 2014 in Afghanistan.

By the end of 2014, 453 soldiers died during Operation Herrick. According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), there were 29 coroner-confirmed suicides and open verdict deaths of army personnel who were previously deployed to Operation Herrick as of February 2018.
read it here