Saturday, March 9, 2013

Families are blaming themselves for military suicides

Families are blaming themselves for military suicides
by Kathie Costos
Wounded Times Blog
March 9, 2013

Why does it seem as if everyone is blaming themselves for military suicides except the military? Think about how many times we've read General after General talking about soldiers committing suicide and then end up pointing to the number of civilian suicides. Do they ever once mention the fact that among those numbers are veterans? Do they mention that while veterans are only about 7% of the population, they represent 22% of suicides? Do the mention the stunning number of 28 Vietnam veterans committed suicide a day when they came home?

Families blamed themselves even back then when there was no information, little public knowledge about research being done and far less support.

Times have changed. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent every year over the last 40 years researching PTSD and combat. We now have the internet, Facebook, books online, support groups and hundreds more charities collecting donations to save their lives, raise awareness, you name it but the results are just as heart wrenching when a family has to stand by the flag covered coffin of someone who should have still been here.

Veterans and families work to raise awareness about military suicides
Mar 3 2013
Monica Hernandez
Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - Andrew O'Brien may have survived a tour in Iraq, but he nearly succumbed to the depression that followed when he returned.

“I did attempt suicide. I attempted it in 2010. I took a bunch of pills and ended up going to the hospital and having to get my stomach pumped and a tube shoved down my throat,” said O'Brien, an army veteran who left the military in 2011.

Now O'Brien is sharing his story with others in hopes of shedding light on a growing problem. Last year, more active duty military died from suicide than in combat. A group called the NOLA Patriots rallied for awareness at the Veterans' Memorial in Metairie Saturday. “You come back and you feel like you're just supposed to go right back into who you were before,” said O'Brien. “And you come back and you're paranoid about everything.”
Danielle Comeaux lost her son to suicide in 2011. Specialist Matthew Comeaux had just returned home from a tour in Afghanistan. He was 21.

“I'm only ashamed, not of Matthew, I'm ashamed that we didn't know what the signs were to recognize so that we could have helped him,” said Comeaux.
read more here

Everyone is blaming themselves. Marine Clay Hunt's family blames themselves and his friends wonder what they could have done. Yet when you listen to what Jake Wood had to say about the attitude carried over, it is clear the men and women in the military come home with a screwed up idea of what it is to be mentally tough with Comprehensive Soldier Fitness and Resilience Training.

Sgt. Timothy Cichon, wrote about being a devote Christian and failing the CSF. Why does this matter? Because it is a spiritual test and he had a lot of questions, so his response was honest but didn't fit in with the answers they wanted out of him.

Twisting spirituality/faith is part of the problem. The other part is telling them they can train their brains to be mentally tough. Yet even worse, far more deadly, is when families are the last to know what these war fighters come home within their own bodies. How is it that after all these years, after all the money, mounting suicide numbers and claims they finally get it, are families still left out of all of this?

The last few years I've been talking to more and more Moms about the sons and daughters they had to bury because of suicides. Every single one of them didn't know what PTSD was, what they could do to help, what the medication warnings were or even why their soldier managed to survive combat but couldn't survive being "safe" back home.

So while the military refuses to accept responsibility for these deaths, refuses to change what they do and how they address it, the families and friends must go on with their own lives and the self-blame that belongs to leadership of the military and Congress for refusing to hold no one accountable. After all, they manage to fight to make sure the DOD has all they money they need but never seem to manage to make sure the funding is used properly. Imagine if the DOD wanted a weapon that ended up killing more soldiers than the enemy. Do you think they'd keep funding it? Keep using it? Hell no. So how is it they are still funding programs that kill more after combat than the enemy does during it?