Showing posts with label veterans crisis line. Show all posts
Showing posts with label veterans crisis line. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Veterans in Crisis: Isolation blend of fear and hope

Rise in veterans seeking help, a good sign

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 14, 2014

When the number of veterans committing suicide goes up, it shows that they did not get the help they needed to want to stay alive. We have seen that for decades, but it got worse as more and more people were doing more to take advantage of the situation than change it for the better.

In a way, it is like a miracle happening and I have hope!

The time has finally come when all the people out there who have been raising funds to let veterans know they are killing themselves have stopped their stunts. Now maybe veterans are able to hear that real help is out there.

The blessing in all of this is that a lot of people are stepping up to make a difference and veterans are responding. They are aware they do not have to fight the battle against PTSD alone.

Virtual mental health care for veterans up more than 200% amid COVID-19

by News 4-Fox 11 Digital Team
April 13th 2020
RENO, Nev. (News 4-Fox 11) — The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said they have seen an increase in virtual mental healthcare use due to COVID-19.

According to the VA, there was a 70 percent increase in veterans using VA Video Connect for their appointments. They also saw mental health calls jumped more than 200 percent in March, compared to February.

Veterans groups step up efforts to help with coronavirus financial challenges and isolation

Military Times
Leo Shane III
April 14, 2020
A member of the American Legion salutes as group members retire flag displays after a memorial service held at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center in Ilwaco, Washington on Jan. 11, 2020. (Petty Officer 1st Class Levi Read/Coast Guard)
Similarly, this week officials from the American Legion reconfigured their Buddy Check program launched last year to refocus on the current pandemic. Local posts are being tasked with outreach to veterans throughout their communities, to ensure individuals are healthy and still connected despite illness-mandated isolation.

“Legionnaires are using the phone, email and social media to safely find out how these veterans are doing and what we can do to help them,” American Legion National Commander James W. “Bill” Oxford said in a statement.

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, February 25, 2020

Suicidal Veteran called crisis line from Texas...Police dispatched to veteran in Maine?

I-Team: Suicidal Texas veteran left waiting as crews are dispatched to a house in Maine

by Jon Chrisos
February 24th 2020
In this case, the text actually came from someone in Texas who's now using the number Greg used when he lived in El Paso years ago.
NATIONWIDE (WGME) - The I-Team discovers a nationwide problem with the suicide hotline intended to help our heroes and their families when they're in crisis.

Every day hundreds of veterans call or text the Veterans Crisis Line.

VCL is a key piece of the federal government's suicide prevention efforts, but when minutes matter we found a flaw leaving emergency responders struggling to find the person crying out for help.

"It was just before midnight, we were in bed sleeping," said Rebecca Cumming's who got a terrifying wake-up call when two police officers showed up at her home in Windham.

Cummings is a former solder, Army wife, and now military mom.

"I honestly thought they were here to talk about my son who's away at basic training. If the police are at your door in the middle of the night and you didn't call them and there's nothing going on it's usually pretty bad news," she said.

But instead, according to a police report obtained by the I-Team, police were dispatched to the home by the Veterans Crisis Line "for the report of a suicide attempt."

The text to the hotline suggested "the person was feeling suicidal, had a plan, and wanted to act on that plan tonight."
read it here

Friday, January 17, 2020

Vietnam veteran James Nicoletti called crisis line...and blue angels showed up!

Vietnam War veteran gets unexpected help from Berwyn community after calling crisis hotline

ABC 7 News
By Cate Cauguiran
January 16, 2020

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Vietnam War veteran got help from an unexpected source when he needed it the most.
With little more than the clothes on his back, James Nicoletti called a hotline for help after moving back to his hometown in suburban Berwyn last week.

Police officers in Berwyn responded to his call, which started a series events that have changed his life.

"I had a hundred dollars in my hand when I arrived here in Chicago," said Nicoletti, a U.S. Army vet.

He hadn't eaten for days and was trying his best to hold on to the last bit of cash he had.

"I had to sleep in a bathtub. That's where I slept," he said. "I put blankets there on the bottom so I don't get cold."

He said his life was going down the drain, and that's when he decided to call a veteran crisis hotline looking for help.

"I thought, 'It's over. You know what? They're going to put me away,'" Nicoletti said to himself when Berwyn police officers showed up at this door.

That fear was quickly replaced by hope after responding Officer Ed Tovar and his colleagues embraced the veteran. They pooled together their own money to get Nicoletti a few groceries and toiletries.
read it here

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Veteran called crisis line and lived to heal

Veteran gets life-saving help at VA Clinic

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

Greg Swars Albany Herald

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 3, 2019

Man called VA claiming to be suicidal...then streamed it on social media as a joke!

Fall River man accused of placing hoax suicide call to VA hotline, making racist comments

WHDH News Boston
May 2, 2019

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - A Fall River man is facing a raft of criminal charges after police say he streamed himself live on social media making a hoax phone call to a Veteran Affairs Hotline during which he claimed to be contemplating suicide and disparaged the hotline staff member’s race and ethnicity, police said.

Officers responding to a call from the Veterans Affairs Hotline indicating that a man on Senate Road was threatening to commit suicide with a firearm spoke with Kenneth Fillion, 37, who initially provided them with a fake name, according to the Fall River Police Department.

During the investigation, police say Fillion admitted to making the prank call while streaming himself live on social media as a joke.

He was arrested after officers discovered that he had three outstanding warrants.
read more here

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Why are suicidal veterans still avoiding the VA?

Remember this news?

On Monday, a Government Accountability Office report blasted department officials for failing to spend millions in outreach and public awareness funds related to veterans suicide prevention last fiscal year. Only about only $57,000 — less than 1 percent — was actually spent. read more here
And now we have this.

VA focused on suicide prevention

Department of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie
December 30, 2018

Holidays can be especially tough for troops deployed abroad, but they can also be challenging for veterans in need. And this holiday season, we have an important message for those who have worn the uniform: the Department of Veterans Affairs is here to help.

Suicide prevention is VA’s No. 1 clinical priority, but getting more veterans into care is one of our greatest challenges. An average of 20 veterans die by suicide each day. Of those 20, 14 have not received recent VA care.

That’s why we’re working closely with the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security to implement President Trump’s Jan. 9, 2018, executive order to ensure that all new veterans receive mental health care for at least one year following their separation from service.
read more here

VA’s available resources are extensive. To get the word out, VA spent $12.2 million on suicide prevention outreach in fiscal year 2018, including $1.5 million on paid media. We’ve also made great use of unpaid media through our partnership with Johnson and  Johnson to produce a public service announcement featuring Tom Hanks — at no cost to VA. That partnership helped put VA in the top 10 of the Nielson ratings for PSAs. Its YouTube version drew tens of thousands of views.

And then there is this part
The Veterans Crisis Line helps about 2,000 callers every day. In the past 10 years, it has answered over 3.5 million calls, engaged in over 413,000 online chats, and responded to over 98,000 text messages. Most of the callers to the Veterans Crisis Line are veterans, but many are also concerned family members and friends calling on behalf of a veteran close to them. VA is there to help them, too. Our suicide prevention coordinators conducted over 22,000 outreach events last year, reaching 2.2 million people.
I can attest to the fact that when a veteran goes to to the VA, he/she is more likely to heal and live a better quality of life. I have seen it all my life with my 100% disabled Dad and my 100% disabled husband. Plus they helped with a lot of veterans I sent to them over the last 3 decades, in different parts of the country.

But he did not explain why this has been the outcome of all of that.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Veteran called crisis line, shot and killed by police

Veteran called crisis hotline, pointed gun at police, was killed by officer, Houston police say

Click 2 Houston News
Megan Kennedy
Brittany Taylor
October 27, 2018

Carroll had served in the military for four or five years and suffered from PTSD, his father-in-law told KPRC. Carroll leaves behind a 16-month-old child. 

HOUSTON - A man was shot and later died after pointing a gun at Houston police officers, the department said.

The suspect, identified by family members as a veteran, had initially called a veterans' crisis hotline for assistance, the family said. The man told the crisis hotline that he had cut himself and was armed with a gun. Houston police confirmed the department received the routed 911 call from a U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs Crisis hotline.

The man has been identified as 30-year-old Christopher Carroll.

After receiving the 911 call, investigators responded to the man's home on Eagle Creek Drive around 12:45 a.m. Saturday.

When they arrived, they located a family member attempting to calm Carroll down, said Matt Slinkard, an assistant executive chief with the special operations command with the Houston Police Department. Family members of Carroll told police he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was currently experiencing a crisis.
read more here

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Veteran gave up on winning election, not on his healing PTSD

Ever heard of a quitter inspiring others to fight? Read this then you can say, now you have.

Afghan War vet ends bid for Kansas City mayor, citing PTSD and depression
Published: October 2, 2018
“I wish I would have sought help sooner, so if me going public with my struggle makes just one person seek assistance, doing this publicly is worth it to me,” he wrote.

WASHINGTON — Jason Kander, an Afghanistan War veteran widely praised as a rising star in the Democratic party, withdrew Tuesday from the Kansas City, Mo., mayoral race to seek help for depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jason Kander, pictured here during a 2013 visit to Fort Leonard Wood, withdrew Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018, from the Kansas City, Mo., mayoral race in order to seek help for depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. ANGELINA BETRAN/FORT LEONARD WOOD
Last week, Kander called the Veterans Crisis Line and told a crisis responder that he had suicidal thoughts. On Monday, he went to the Kansas City VA Medical Center, where he’s planning to receive regular treatment.

“To allow me to concentrate on my mental health, I’ve decided that I will not be running for mayor of Kansas City,” Kander wrote Tuesday.

Kander posted a letter on his campaign website and Facebook page explaining his mental health struggles. He hopes that being forthcoming will help veterans and others who are working through mental health issues, he said.
“Last Tuesday, I found out that we were going to raise more money than any Kansas City mayoral campaign ever has in a single quarter,” he wrote. “But instead of celebrating that accomplishment, I found myself on the phone with the VA’s Veterans Crisis Line, tearfully conceding that, yes, I have had suicidal thoughts. And it wasn’t the first time.”
read more here

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Justice not blind for veterans needing legal help

Pensacola veterans struggle to pay for legal help in civil court cases, panel says
Pensacola News Journal
Melissa Nelson Gabriel
Aug. 10, 2018
A Tampa veterans crisis line receives more than 10,000 calls a month from veterans needing help, said Dennis Baker, president of the Florida Veterans Foundation. Many of the calls are about suicidal thoughts or addiction issues. A lot of the calls are also from veterans who need help negotiating the legal system, he said.

From child support hearings to eviction notices, many Florida veterans are left to fend for themselves when it comes to complicated legal issues, members of a statewide committee on civil justice heard Friday.

Judges, lawyers and veterans advocates from around the state met in Pensacola to discuss what can be done to ensure veterans have better representation in the civil justice system.

Florida Supreme Court Justice Jorge Labarga, chairman of the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, said the group took its meeting on veterans' issues to Pensacola because of the high number of active-duty military members and retirees in the region.

"Access to civil justice not only impacts the poor, it also affects those of moderate income," he said.

A Tampa veterans crisis line receives more than 10,000 calls a month from veterans needing help, said Dennis Baker, president of the Florida Veterans Foundation. Many of the calls are about suicidal thoughts or addiction issues. A lot of the calls are also from veterans who need help negotiating the legal system, he said.

"A number of callers are telling us they need an attorney. It's everything from landlord/tenant disputes, wills and estates, mortgages and foreclosures, and taxes," he said.
read more here

Friday, December 15, 2017

Deputy Proved Saving Veteran's Life Takes More Than Moments

Deputy’s action saves veteran’s life

Grand Lake News
By Darin Hinman
Posted Dec 13, 2017
Delaware County Sheriff's Deputy Cody Thompson receives challenge coin from Mark Morgan, Director of the Muskogee VA 
Darin Hinman Delaware County Journal
In all, Thompson spent a combined 15 hours helping the man, and ultimately encouraging him to seek out treatment. Thompson assisted the veteran to develop a treatment plan and followed up not only with the man, but also with his family.

Law enforcement officers make critical decisions every day, some with life and death consequences. One decision, made with compassion, by Delaware County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Thompson Cody Thompson not only made a difference but saved the life of a veteran in need. 

Earlier this year, Thompson was sent to conduct a welfare check for a veteran, living in Delaware County, who called the veteran’s crisis line.

Thompson, who served in the U.S. Army from 2010 to 2016 as a combat engineer and spend time deployed to Afghanistan, took the time to ensure the man was treated properly during their encounter.

“He needed the help,” Thompson said. “He just wanted to sit and talk. It felt like the right thing to do.”
read more here

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Bored Florida High School Student Called Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline!!!!

Student, bored in class, prank calls veterans' suicide hotline
USA Today
Pamela McCabe
October 26, 2017

FORT MYERS, Fla. — A Lee County student is in trouble at school after making three false reports to a suicide prevention hotline for veterans — all because he was bored in class.

The student, who hasn't been identified, attends Ida S. Baker High School in Cape Coral and used his cellphone to log into the Veterans Crisis Line.

The student first logged into the hotline Oct. 18, when he reported that he "had a gun and was going to kill themselves," a report from the Lee County Sheriff's Office states.

A district IT staff member, who was contacted by the hotline, was able to track the phone, a Samsung Galaxy S8, to one of three classrooms on campus.

The onsite deputy for the school alerted the teachers so they could be aware of the situation.
The same cellphone contacted the hotline again on Monday, roughly an hour into the school day. This time the student falsely reported that they had "cut their wrist and were bleeding out" at a McDonald's in Seattle.
read more here

What would this kid think if he had to explain to the family of a veteran, who did commit suicide, why this seemed like a fun thing to do?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Forgotten History of Veteran Suicides

History Professor Forgot Most Important Lesson of All
Combat PTSD Wounded Time
Kathie Costos
December 3, 2016

I was just reading an article on veteran suicides on The Blade, Veteran-suicide epidemic has many causes. This was at the bottom of the article.
The suicide rate in the United States, and particularly among veterans, must remain a national priority. Addressing it requires recognizing and capitalizing on the successes of an organization that is often only criticized. More than this, it requires that we all take a clear-eyed view of the challenges that exist throughout U.S. culture that have contributed to the problem. Recognizing these problems, and acting on them, will likely save more lives than a bunch of push-ups.
David Kieran is assistant professor of history at Washington and Jefferson College in Washington, Pa.
He is right on that, and other parts of the article, however, it is far more worse than this History professor has managed to research. 

For starters, veterans have been committing suicide all along, for generations, not just a decade or so. What we are seeing now has been allowed to happen so that the rest of us can delude ourselves into thinking we just did something to let veterans know we give a crap. Truth is, we made the problems they, along with families just like mine, fight on a daily basis worse. Easy stuff to do has made our lives end more tragically.

Here are some facts no one wants to face.

Start with these numbers from the VA on the numbers they came up with for veterans committing suicide going back to 1999.

Now add in two other numbers. In 1999 the US Census had the number of veterans as this, 
Census 2000 counted 208.1 million civilians 18 and older in the United States.1 Within this population, approximately 26.4 million or 12.7 percent were veterans.
For 2016, there were 21,369,602. Meaning there are 5 million less veterans, yet we are still at the same number of reported suicides as there was back in 1999. After all is said and done, we managed to make it worse.

The largest percentage of veterans, are in fact, over the age of 50. They also represent the highest percentage of veterans committing suicide in the nation. You may be ok with that, ok with them not even mattering enough to mention, but I'm not. I'm not ok with any of this bullshit going on all over the country. It is reprehensible.

Without talking about military suicides taking place at consistent levels of over one a day, at the same time the number of enlisted has dropped by the thousands, the new generation of veterans received the same training, yet their suicide numbers have also skyrocketed past the civilian peer rate. That is something else we have no excuse to ignore, but we do.

With all this in mind, consider the folks you know running around the country just slamming the VA, when every report has stated veterans are less likely to commit suicide while they are going to the VA for help. Instead of #fightingforveterans to have the VA working properly, the members of Congress have let it be destroyed from within and now they are talking about privatizing it. Why? Why should they be allowed to consistently fail our veterans? Why have we allowed this to go on without demanding they be held accountable for all the bills they write to get their names in the public spotlight while pretending they have actually done some basic research to know what they are doing? Any clue as to why we let it happen?

Ok, bad enough? Not even close. For the simple facts we have less veterans living yet the same number committing suicide, those numbers are only part of the truth. The plain, simple, ugly truth of what we allowed to happen. These are the number of veteran in crisis calling the suicide prevention hotline and the numbers that could have been added to what we got wrong.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 2.5 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis nearly 66,000 times. The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in nearly 308,000 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 60,000 texts.
So, are you angry enough to #fightforveterans yet or are you going to drop and do some push-ups so you can sleep at night thinking you just did something that will matter to anyone else but yourself?
cross posted on Combat PTSD Wounded Times

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Another Suicide Prevention Bill, Just More of the Same

This may sound good to you,
The Scoop
Speaker Ryan Press Office
November 18, 2016
Yesterday, Speaker Ryan signed H.R. 5392, the No Veterans Crisis Line Call Should Go Unanswered Act—legislation introduced by Rep. David Young (R-IA) to assure veterans’ needs are prioritized. Prior to signing the bill, Speaker Ryan discussed its significance during his weekly press briefing:

“This week, Congress gave final approval to legislation that will help veterans in need. H.R. 5392 requires the VA [to] respond to calls to its crisis hotlines in a timely manner.

“This is one of those bills that should not even be necessary, but sadly—and tragically—it is. read more here

In June of this year, a veteran called the Crisis Hotline and WTVM News reported,

"I called back the next day which was past the 24 hours they said they would call back,” said Burks. “And,I waited another 24 hours and they did call.” 

Burks worries the long wait time could be devastating for someone suffering from P.T.S.D. 

But a Bill to prevent suicides sounded good before. Actually, scratch that. Make it many, many times before.

May 2, 2015 Military Times reported this.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., recently sent a letter to VA Secretary Bob McDonald asking for data on the Crisis Line's call volume, hold times, and average wait times between when a call is made and the caller can see a VA therapist or counselor, or a community provider, in person.

Nelson's request was made in response to a news report by Tampa television station WFTS that Air Force veteran Ted Koran was placed on hold repeatedly for up to 10 minutes at a time as he fought off suicidal thoughts.

According to the report, Koran's wife died of cancer last year and he was despondent the day he made the call.

But when he dialed, he was placed on hold numerous times. After he reached a counselor, he said he did not feel comforted, according to the report.

"They had me on the [verge] of saying to hell with it," he said, according to WFTS.
Makes sense that Florida Senator would be paying attention considering it turns out that in 2014 the number of veterans in Florida committing suicide was called a "staggering" number when between 1999 and 2011 there were 31,885 reported suicides.

April 13, 2015 ABC News reported this
Ted Koran was thinking about committing suicide Saturday night.

He reached out to the VA and the Veterans Suicide Hotline for help, but said he couldn't get any until after he was repeatedly put on hold for up to 10 minutes at time.

Veterans in Crisis: Vets put on hold for 36 minutes His case is just the latest the I-Team has been exposing for months now.

When the Veterans Crisis Hotline was first set up by the VA in 2007, it averaged 60 calls a day on four manned phone lines.

Now, 52 operators at a time field about a thousand calls a day, and that's not always even enough to keep some veterans on the verge of suicide from being placed on hold.

February 23, 2015 KJRH News reported this.
Hughes decided that night to turn to the national Veterans Crisis Line, a 24-hour, seven-day-a week service that promises an immediate, open line to professional help. But when Hughes phoned, she said, her call went straight to hold. After several minutes, she became frustrated and hung up. “I would never call the hotline again,” said Hughes. She said she needed to quickly get to someone that night who could give her help and reassurance.
Does it sound bad now? Wait because this was reported on Army Times July 14, 2010. The link no longer works but it is still alive on Wounded Times
Even as Veterans Affairs Department officials offered testimony that 10,000 people have been saved by VA’s suicide hotline, veterans themselves said help should come long before a person needs to make that call. “The suicide hotline is too much of a last alternative,” said Melvin Cintron, an Army veteran who served as a flight medic in Desert Storm and in aviation maintenance in the current war in Iraq. “Either you don’t have enough of a problem and you can wait for weeks for an appointment, or you have to be suicidal.”

Cintron spoke Wednesday before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee’s oversight and investigations panel.

A lot of things may sound good, but you have to look back to see if what sounded good produced good results. The fact is, there have been some veterans rescued by the Crisis Hotline. It is also a fact that it began back in 2007 with The Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act. It is also a fact that considering we have over 5 million less veterans than we did in 1999, the VA has reported the same, stunning number, of veterans committing suicide at 20 per day.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

PTSD Veteran Dead After Confronting Police

Family remembers veteran killed in confrontation with Pickaway County deputies

By Olivia Fecteau
Published: August 10, 2016

That crisis line communication was what brought Pickaway County Sheriff’s deputies to Ron Smith’s house in Mount Sterling. Deputies said when they arrived, they found Smith with a long rifle. Smith died after a confrontation with the deputies, both of whom were military veterans themselves. Sheriff Robert Radcliff said it was not clear who fired the fatal shot.
CHILLICOTHE, OH (WCMH) — Military service ran in the family for Ron Smith. He survived a war, serving in the United States Army during Desert Storm. His father and other relatives were also in the service.

Now, his family is grieving after the 45-year-old was killed Tuesday in a confrontation with Pickaway County Sheriff’s deputies.

Diane Smith, Ron Smith’s mother, said her son was receiving care at the Columbus Veterans Affairs medical center as recently as last week, as well as the VA center in Chillicothe and Grant Medical Center in Columbus. She said the family was not happy with his care through the VA.

“It seemed like they could just never figure out what was going on,” Diane Smith said.

Her husband, Ron’s father Larry Smith, said they received a call from their daughter-in-law early Tuesday morning telling them Ron had been in a confrontation with deputies and did not survive.
read more here

Kevin Higgins Survived Deployments But Not Being Back Home

Widow of shooting subject: The VA let us down
Miller Jozwiak
August 11, 2016
In the last eight days before Kevin died, he tried calling six different crisis hotlines to simply vent his thoughts. Nicole’s phone shows multiple calls to the lines, though Kevin's phone is still in possession of the police and the crisis lines are anonymous.

“There was one, a combat crisis hotline that we found,” Nicole said. “And a veteran on there did speak with him from a little before midnight until like four in the morning… All he wanted to do was talk. He just needed an outlet.”

Nicole Higgins has not tried to justify what her husband, Kevin Higgins, did.
(Photo: Submitted by Nicole Higgins)
Unanswered calls for help

“When he did get his medications in the mail, they’d always come late. His refills were never refilled,” Nicole said. “Say the doctor would write the prescription, and then it’s supposed to come every month, and it wouldn’t. We were having trouble because the meds come from Green Bay… And his meds came late.”

On July 17, Kevin robbed the Union Avenue Tap and raised an assault rifle at officers who responded, prompting them to fire six bullets into him.

She doesn't blame the officers who shot her husband to death that night. She said the officers were just defending themselves from a crime, but that the incident could have been stopped long before July 17.

“They did what they had to do,” Nicole said.

But as she received part of Kevin's medication mere days after his death -- medication designed in part to treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder he developed following parts of his military service -- she found herself questioning why Kevin couldn't get proper treatment for the mental illness that precipitated his death.

“It really upset him that he was telling these veterans [at the VFW] that this is where you can get help and he’d reach out to those places and they wouldn’t help him,” Nicole said.
read more here

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Veterans Crisis Text Unanswered by Contractors?

I am sure by now you heard about how veterans sending text messages to the VA Crisis Line went unanswered. The key is within this. "The VA told the GAO it relies on its text messaging service provider to monitor and test the text messaging system, the report says. But the provider said it doesn’t conduct any routine testing." In other words, a contractor otherwise they would have used "employees" or similar language. 

If you look online for government contracts you'll find that most VA Clinics are run by contractors.  Just like the Choice program is, care has been outsourced by politicians writing the rules and paying the bills instead of making sure our veterans received the best care by the VA.  You know, the one Congress has had jurisdiction over since 1946!
Health Net Federal Services, LLC (Health Net) is proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide a wide spectrum of high quality, cost-effective health care services supporting U.S. Veterans nationwide.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Congresswoman Corrine Brown's Message to Veterans Missing Facts

Simple message to Rep. Corrine Brown,,,,READ THE REPORT AND KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!!! 
All you had to do was get to page 14 to notice that this report was only from limited data obtained from just 21 states topped off with a list of veterans they new they missed.
IT IS NOT 22 A DAY and you should know that considering you are on the Veterans Affairs Committee.


You may have wanted publicity for doing something about proving that Congress has reached that magical number of "one too many" but you only managed to prove that members of Congress have not really done much at all including reading the reports your committee has jurisdiction over.
"In this week’s CBC Message to America, Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) the ranking member of Veterans Affairs discusses how the Veterans Crisis Line can help prevent suicides amongst our soldiers.

American war veterans experience “22 suicides a day.” “One [suicide] is unacceptable,” she said.

She encouraged the American public to “soldier up and reach out to veterans and make sure that they’re calling the VA.”
CBC Message To America: “22 Veteran Suicides A Day Is Unacceptable” Congresswoman Corrine Brown says Americans need to "soldier up and reach out to veterans."
You talk about the majority of those veterans "African Americans" being from Vietnam and not in the system however the majority of all veterans are not in the system.  There is a reason for that and that is because Congress has not done their jobs since 1946 when the first House Veterans Affairs Committee was seated.

How can members of Congress expect anything to change if they keep doing the same things over and over again? When will anyone be held accountable?

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Senator Joe Donnelly Writes Bills That Don't Work

Senator Joe Donnelly wants to get attention.

Donnelly on Military Suicides: “Acceptable Number is Zero” Senator discussed his efforts at the Atlantic Council including bipartisan “Care Package” and Jacob Sexton Act that have been signed into law Thursday, December 10, 2015
Last year, 443 servicemembers were lost to suicide, making it the third consecutive year that suicides surpassed combat casualties. Through the first six months of 2015, more than 200 servicemembers were lost to suicide, according to the Pentagon.
Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly discussed his successful legislative efforts aimed at preventing military suicide and improving mental health care for servicemembers, as the featured special guest at an Atlantic Council event, How Congress Should Take Care of Those Who Serve Our Country. Donnelly has worked the past three years to advance commonsense, bipartisan legislation through his role on the Senate Armed Services Committee. His bipartisan “Servicemember and Veterans Mental Health Care Package (“Care Package”)” recently was signed into law as part of the national defense bill and will improve military mental health care quality and access for servicemembers.
But only as long as no one is asking what good he's done, or any member of Congress, to actually achieve reducing suicides in the military or among veterans.

As for veterans committing suicide, they are still double the civilian rate even though they have been calling for help.
**Updated: Now includes data through 3rd quarter 2015** Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered nearly 2 million calls and initiated the dispatch of emergency services to callers in crisis over 53,000 times.

The Veterans Crisis Line anonymous online chat service, added in 2009, has engaged in more than 250,000 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 44,000 texts.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Veteran's Unlawful-Search Suit Tossed in D.C.

Under the law is a requirement to report anyone who is a threat to themselves or others. That depends on how serious the observer thinks the situation is. Is there a need to act instantaneously? Most of the time, it is, because hindsight could end up coming too late to save a life. Veterans don't call the Suicide Hotline for fun. They call it out of desperation.

After tracking reports around the country, the fact is, when police officers are called, they usually end with officers having to explain why a call for help left a veteran in jail or dead.

In this case, the mental health worker did the right thing and so did the officers, for the most part, because the veteran is still alive and was taken to get the help he needed.
Veteran's Unlawful-Search Suit Tossed in D.C.
Courthouse News
August 27, 2015

(CN) - A veteran has no claims against Washington, D.C., police for searching his home, taking a grenade and several guns, leaving the door open, and letting his fish die, a federal judge ruled.Matthew Corrigan, a former D.C. resident and an Army reservist, phoned the National Suicide Hotline - though he believed he was calling the military's emotional-support hotline - on the night of Feb. 2, 2010, because "he was depressed and had not slept for several days," according to court records.

In response to questioning, Corrigan told a hotline employee that he was a veteran and owned firearms, but did not indicate that he planned to harm anyone or kill himself, he claims. Corrigan turned off his phone, took prescribed sleeping pills and fell asleep, according to his lawsuit.

Unbeknownst to Corrigan, the employee called 911 and reported an attempted suicide. Metropolitan police officers were sent to Corrigan's apartment around 11 p.m., where they reported a strong odor of natural gas, so they had the service cut off.

The reservist says he awoke at about 4 a.m. on Feb. 3, hearing his name being called over a bullhorn, and saw about eight cops in the back yard and 20 in the front, lit up by floodlights.

When he came outside at about 4:50 a.m. and locked his apartment, he refused to give the key to an officer, who said he did not "have time to play this constitutional bullshit. We're going to break down your door. You're going to have to pay for a new door," according to Corrigan's deposition testimony.

Officers then entered and reportedly found a military smoke grenade and whistler device. Corrigan claims police took him to a Veterans Affairs hospital, where he admitted himself for three days because weapons being pointed at him triggered "PTSD hyper-vigilance."
"Under the community caretaking, exigent circumstances, and emergency aid doctrines, Lt. Glover's orders to the [Emergency Response Team] and [Explosive Ordnance Division] Unit to enter without a warrant and search the plaintiff's apartment for people, threats, and hazardous materials were objectively reasonable and, therefore, did not violate the plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights," Howell wrote.
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