by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 24, 2013
A news report out of New Jersey connected to Orlando is a great example of why I am writing THE WARRIOR SAW, SUICIDES AFTER WAR. Too many families have no idea what is going on or why they are losing their sons and daughters after combat.
David Ganz lost his son after Afghanistan. He lost him in Orlando Florida after Scott Ganz didn't get the help he needed to heal.
"Scott checked himself into a rehabilitation clinic for two brief stays."
It wasn't that he was unwilling to get help. He tried. He just didn't find what he needed to heal. The fact is 57% of military members lost to suicide had sought help. Senator Joe Donnelly says 43 percent of service members who committed suicide never sought help. Pretty shocking when you consider the military has been telling us for years every member of the military received prevention training designed to make them mentally tough. As a matter of fact last week we learned that there are 900 military prevention programs, all based on "resilience" implying they can prevent PTSD. RAND Corp took a look at some of these programs and found: "there is almost no evidence that resilience can be taught or produced" along with these other problems
– lack of leadership support by the militaryBut the DOD pushed these programs anyway without being tested or proven and refused to stop them when the numbers of military suicides, attempted suicides, arrests along with all the other problems went up.
– problems with logistics
– limited funding to sustain programs
– poor fit within the military culture
– mental health stigma.
He is one of many getting medication even though most sleeping aids warn against taking them if you are suffering from depression or have suicidal thoughts.
"Scott had gotten prescriptions for medication to help him sleep. But he continued taking the pills long past the seven to 10 days’ recommended usage, his father said."
If he was given something along the lines of Ambien, then that could be part of the problem. It is given to a lot of people and they have no problems with it however if you listen to the commercials for sleep aides, you hear the warning about taking it if you are suffering from depression. "Within military medicine, benzodiazepine use must be even more closely scrutinized because chronic benzodiazepine use poses special concerns among active duty military personnel." There was a great report Prozac Platoon from 2008 of articles on this that can explain how long it was known it is dangerous to give these medications to members of the military.
So what happened to Scott and the others like him?
The reports of the 22 veterans a day committing suicide seemed shocking to some but it was limited. "Forty-two states have provided data or agreed to do so; the study is based on information from 21 that has been assembled into a database." The VA is clear on the fact they know the cause of death for veterans in their system but too many are not in their data base. Researchers gathered data from death certificates when there were suicides as cause of death and reference to military service. In other words, if it was not noted, it was not counted. The report of the 22 a day came from that data and just 21 states.
"Recent studies have suggested that those who served in recent conflicts are 30 percent to 200 percent more likely to commit suicide than their non-veteran peers."
The DOD stunned many with the news that as they are reviewing cause of death for members of the military for 2012 the suicide numbers would likely go up.
So parents like David Ganz are left wondering what they did wrong, what could have been done differently and what is being done to prevent other parents from having to bury their sons and daughters after they came home from war.
I left this comment because most of the families do not know what is really going on but they are heroes to me none the less.
A couple of problems with this otherwise great report. The widely reported number of military suicides is wrong. They left out National Guards and Reservist. The total is at least 492 because testimony was given last week those numbers may go up when they catalog means of death. There are 900 Suicide Prevention Programs in the DOD and they are part of the problem. The other issue is medication to sleep because most warn against taking them if you have depression. TBI and PTSD are two different wounds but both can be caused by the same event. A bomb blast is in fact pretty traumatic, but the two of them are not the same. Combat and PTSD has been researched for over 40 years but most of it has been forgotten. David Ganz talking about what happened to his son is more important than he knows. Families blame themselves. He just gave them a voice.
Young veteran's suicide shatters air of stability
SUNDAY MARCH 24, 2013
BY JOHN C. ENSSLIN
Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz had a habit over the last two years of giving his colleagues brief updates at their public meetings on his son Scott, a soldier serving with the Army Reserve.
Scott Ganz, left, shown with his father, Bergen County Freeholder David Ganz. The younger Ganz killed himself in February after returning from serving in Afghanistan. His updates were at times a welcome respite from some otherwise tense political arguments. After one particularly long and heated debate in August, Ganz announced: “My son Scott is home. He’s back from Afghanistan.”
The room broke into spontaneous cheers and applause.
But in late February, the same room turned somber as Ganz disclosed that his son had committed suicide in his apartment in Orlando, Fla. Scott Ganz was 30 years old.
“The sad fact is that a veteran commits suicide every 65 minutes, 22 veterans a day,” David Ganz told the hushed chamber.
“This is not something that this board can do something about,” he added. “But it is something that, as a matter of policy, we need to address with our own veterans, and it’s something the U.S. Army and Congress have to address.”
No one knows why Scott Ganz decided to end his life. His family and friends and investigators with the Army are left with more questions than answers. His death, however, comes at a time when the military has reported a record number of suicides among soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
read more here