Thursday, November 15, 2007

The focus must stay on our Veterans: Knowing the volatile future we face the tremendous troop suicide rate really concerns me!

Having just passed another Veterans day where we focus on a tribute to our veterans, their suffering, sacrifices, and needs, a program I saw last night reminded me that we must focus on this every day and not just once a year. I frequently focus on our veterans housing and medical needs. Despite what we are told,, the treatment of our veterans is wholly inadequate. Bush continues to say how much he cares about our soldiers past and present while continuously disregarding their needs and care as he plays his politics at their and our expense.
Much attention is focused on the inadequate attention given to active military and to those injured in combat and the attention they receive once they return state side. I myself use the VA care system and see the inadequacy of that system as well as the great need they fill and the large amount of soldiers that have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
We know that one out of four homeless are veterans so we focus on that. We know that PTSD in Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is at 28% and focus on that. There are more veterans losing limbs than ever before in history and deservedly much attention is focused on them though we constantly hear how inadequate the system is.
Anyway I want to focus on something I never hear mentioned and that is the frightening rate of military suicides during or after military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are no records kept and I understood the thought process to be that if records are not kept then it never happened!

There were calls in the Senate yesterday for the Department of Veterans Affairs to take immediate action to deal with the hidden epidemic of suicides among veterans. That's after our CBS News investigation revealed that, in 2005 alone, 120 of those who have served in the military took their own lives every week - more than double the suicide rate for those who haven't served. That’s 6,256 veteran suicides in one year in 45 states - a rate twice that of other Americans. Now the question is whether the VA is willing or able to deal with it, CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports.
The failure of the VA to track the alarming number of suicides nationwide among those who have served in the military appears to be part of a broader pattern - and a bigger problem. Veterans' rights advocate Paul Sullivan was a data analyst for the VA from 2000 to 2006. "I don't think they want to know. We call it the "don't look, don't find" policy," he said. "The VA doesn't collect data, then they don't have to do anything about it."

The mental health numbers the VA does report reveal an agency under siege: 100,000 vets now seeking help for mental health issues. That’s 52,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder alone. And now, in addition to these reports criticizing the VA’s treatment and spending practices come two more blows: of nearly 90,000 Army vets who served in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, a study released yesterday found 28.3 percent experienced mental health problems, while the report - due out tomorrow - says while veterans are 11 percent of the general population, they now make up an estimated 25 percent of the homeless. military suicide epidemic

This is another crisis and needs immediate attention. We have failed these soldiers in many respects including here. There has never been a Nationwide study and the following is the result of a 5 month CBS news investigation.

Veterans aged 20-24, who are those most likely to have served during the War on Terror, are killing themselves when they return home at rates estimated to be between 2.5 and almost four times higher than non-vets in the same age group. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000 while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.).

Overall, those who have served in the military were more than twice as likely to take their own life in 2005, than Americans who never served. (Veterans committed suicide at the rate of between 18.7 to 20.8 per 100,000 compared to other Americans, who did so at the rate of 8.9 per 100,000.) . “Those numbers clearly show an epidemic of mental health problems,” says veterans rights advocate Paul Sullivan.

“Nobody wants to tally it [veteran suicide numbers] up in the form of a government total,” says Mike Bowman, whose 23-year-old son, Tim, an Army reservist, shot himself on Thanksgiving Day, 2005. Why does he think that is? “Because they don’t want the true numbers of casualties to really be known,” he said.

The CBS News Investigative Unit, led by producer Pia Malbran, contacted all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for vets and non-vets dating back to 1995. “If these numbers don’t wake up this country nothing will,” Murray said. “And I would say to all Americans that we each have a responsibility to the men and women who serve us aren’t lost when they come home.” Keteyian also spoke with Paul Rieckhoff, former Marine and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans for America. He rightly said “Not everyone comes home from the war wounded, but the bottom line is nobody comes home unchanged.” More on the veteran suicide epidemic

This really surprised me and we must address this issue. We owe it to our misused and abused veterans. please tell me what you think!

James Joiner
Gardner Ma


RoseCovered Glasses said...

Great post and sound thinking.

We have a military veteran friend who was honorably discharged during the Vietnam era. He served in the US Navy while having dual citizenship (Canadian/US). He was born in Canada and his family moved to New York when he was a child and became dual Canadian and US Citizens.

After discharge my friend worked in the US for over 3 decades, paying US taxes and Social Security. When it came time to retire and apply for his pension he was informed that the US Department of Homeland Security had revoked his US citizenship and did not recognize his Canadian citizenship.

The Social Security Administration will not begin his pension payments until his citizenship issue is resolved. He has been trying to work this matter through the VA, his local representatives in government (congressional level) and directly through the Social Security Office. No one seems to know what to do, who should take action and who has responsibility. The DHS will not reply to his inquiries. Any ideas?

For more details see:

PoliShifter said...

Hi Jim

here is a link that might interest you:

"It is illogical to put a cap on VA funding when it is impossible to put a cap on the number of those
wounded and injured in service to their country."

It's really deplorable how we exploit our troops for political gain.

And not just for domestic purposes in our own country but we also use them in our proxy foreign policy wars with other countries around the world.

After all their great service then we just throw them out with the garbage. It's disgusting.

Even worse is now the U.S. government spends the money and time to train the troops (while paying them a pittance) and then they go work for Blackwater (after we spent the money to train them) where they make 5 times as much money.

Why can't we pay our troops 5 times as much RIGHT NOW? We spent the money to train them and equip them. Why do we pay them like crap, treat them like crap, thereby driving them to the private military corps?

I think the answer is becausue the NeoCon powers at be don't want a government run/controlled not-for-profit military any more. I think they would prefer guns for hire that will work for the highest bidder and do what they are told no questions asked (ie fire on U.S. Citizens if need be).

an average patriot said...

rosecovered glasses
Sounds normal! I hate it. He deserves his share and they will not give it to him until forced. Yes I have ideas! I am sure there are Veterans organizations that will volunteer to help him.
the local vfw here has volunteered their services to me and my sons. I have a friend who after 2 tours in Nam and 30 years in the defense industry gave in to PTSD and lives in a Minnesota VA.
I wish I had his E because he helps vets in that situation but my computer crashed and I lost that and everything else. Keep going forward with this he will get it. Take care!

an average patriot said...

It is deplorable how Bush misuses and abuses our military and our childrens Patriotism for their gain, then when they are injured and in need they are paid lip service. It makes me feel for my sons in the military.
I am concerned about the future of privatization as is my EOD lifer son. It is ruining our military. I am concerned as you may be that someday they will be used on us amongst other things. What a friggen nightmare future Bush has proudly created for us and the world.

an average patriot said...

polishifter I almost forfot to thank you for the link and I will check it now. Take care!

an average patriot said...

Wow that is going to take some time to do justice to. The VA is pissed because the truth came out. The numbers must be right and the VA must start addressing the situation as it will only get worse as these wars do. What a friggen mess!

Larry said...

Check this out Jim:

I read something that caught my attention. The passage reminded me that today can either be a miserable day or a spectacular day ... all I need to do is choose which version I want. Most things in life are like that. If we don't like something we can simply choose to change our perspective, to change us. I've noticed more and more lately that a lot of Americans are, whether they realize it or not, missing the America that they used to know and love. This America has become ugly, hasn't it?

Of course, we aren't supposed to talk about it, this new ugly America --- at least not in polite company and especially, so Bill O'Reilly is quick to tell us, not publicly. But it is true. A growing number of Americans miss the United States that they grew up in and really don't like the latest version very much, if at all.

I truly believe that many Americans turn off their bedroom lights at night, slip beneath the sheets of their beds and, if only fleetingly, wonder where it had all gone so terribly wrong. They ask themselves how it came to be that we decided it was our God given right to invade countries that never harmed us and never had any intention of causing us harm. I think that they close their eyes and wish they didn't have to try and rationalize the million-or-so lives that have been lost in Iraq. I think that many Americans find themselves tossing and turning, unable to sleep at all, and struggling to find a single good reason as to why their government has been torturing human beings.

Most of the reasons "why" and answers as to "how" it all came to be -- that America came to be something unrecognizable and foreign and missed -- is that after 9/11, we were all just a little too afraid to think straight. Far too many of us were scared out of our right mind and a very dangerous group of people within America's government exploited that fear. They exploited that fear not to keep us safe or to protect us, but rather so that they could achieve their selfish and greed-driven objectives. Put bluntly, those elected to protect us and defend us used our fear -- abused, heightened and exploited our fear -- so that they could steal and control as much oil as possible, and make themselves and their friends richer than they ever could have imagined. And it worked.

Deep, deep, deep down in the marrow of their bones, every American that misses the country they once knew; knows exactly how it has all gone so terribly and horrifically wrong. Most Americans know that a greedy cabal manipulated the nation's collective post-9/11 fear in order to achieve its own stygian goals and objectives. And now all those people lay awake at night wondering how and why it has all gone so wrong and, too, trying to figure out how to make it all right again.

The answer as to how we make it right again is simple. We can choose to change ... we can choose whether America is the principled, idealistic and far from perfect country we once knew and loved, or a dark and stygian land that is ruled by fear and drowning in the blood of war and the guilt of torture. America can continue to be this dark and angry place we find ourselves having to endure, or it can be the spectacular land we once knew and loved with every fiber of our being --- all we need to do is choose which version we want.

Larry said...


Lydia left you a comment on her blog.

Larry said...

Here are some training locations for Bush's Private Gestapho.

Training for Martial Law???????

Anon-Paranoid said...

It's a shame how our government treats our soldiers. They all need to be horsewhipped for their disdain of those who give so much and ask for so little in return.

I left you a reply on my last post.

God Bless.

Anok said...

This is an issue that is close to my heart, Jim. When my husband returned from Iraq, he was a changed man. His habits then were not healthy, binge drinking, serious bouts of depression, and aggressive behaviors, and heavy risk taking were, and continue to be worrisome to me, and other family members. Although, much has been eased with time, therapy and a lot of patience and hard work, the depression still comes and goes - that vacant stare accompanied by flashbacks freaks me out.

Not to mention the possible exposure to depleted Uranium, and all of the side effects that come with that.

Thank you so much for bringing this up - it is so very important.

Anok said...

Adding a link to my blog, with teh latest post to be read about this very subject.

This is the Disintegration of Our Country

an average patriot said...

Knowing what you are saying I just told enigma that after watching the Dem pissing contest last night I decided to post on the one thing we must run on to win and that is to take back our America the America of we the people that we wanted to pass on to our grandchildren and get rid of Bush's undoing everything he did.
The future wars he set in motion will have to be fought regardless but we can do it from our America not his. some of us have had no fear but only befuddlement that most did not see what the idiot was going and disdain for all the underhended lying he has done to follow his new order.

an average patriot said...

Thanks for the heads up on Lydia. I straightened out my notification problem at least so I got that. I am 2 or 3 hours ahead of you and shut off around 8:pm so I get it in the morning.
You also said here are some training camps for Bush's Gestapo but there was no link. I am interested do you have one? Adios for now!

an average patriot said...

yeah Anon!
So glad to hear from you. It is disgusting seeing their Patriotism being used and abused as he lies and says he cares then shows us he does not. I can't stand it. Once I address things from last night I will go check your reply. Take care!

an average patriot said...

You're welcome Anok!
My best top you and your husband!
One of my sons who is an EOD team leader back from Afghanistan in June is preparing to go back to Iraq soon. PTSD is a big concern of mine as well as IED's.My youngest is 18 and trying to get into the marines to go over there. He really concerns me because he does not have the mental strength needed. Enough about that.
Keep helping your husband and he will repair. I am sickened watching many go by the roadside as Bush lies and says he will take care of them as he screws them over.

an average patriot said...

I thank you for the link and I already left you a response. That ignorant right wing child had no right to say what he did. Fools like that can only say that ignorance because they have never served or had to face the warmongering lies of Bush as many average Americans do.