Monday, December 21, 2015

Congress Wants Answers from DOD About Suicides, Again?

Members of Congress get their names on Bills to "prevent suicides" yet veterans end up with their names on tombstones because no one is held accountable for what Congress failed to do. Is that fair? Is that reasonable? Is that even honorable?

Not even close. Suicides within the military under the Department of Defense went up after Congress "addressed reducing the number" of service members taking their own lives. Suicides went up after veterans had been trained to be "resilient" and then did not get what they needed from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Yet members of Congress do not seem interested in what responsibility they have in all of this. They forget they have jurisdiction over both departments. They forget they spend the money and write the bills to make lives better, not push what has already failed. It has produced a terrifying outcome.

Congress Orders Defense Dept. to Study Combat’s Effects on Veteran Suicide Rates
New York Times
By Dave Philipps
DEC. 18, 2015

Congress on Friday passed a bill requiring the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to study the long-term effects of combat on the mental health of veterans — a dynamic that remains poorly understood despite concerns by lawmakers and the public over elevated veteran suicide rates in recent years.

The issue of suicide among war veterans gained prominence almost a decade ago, but repeated studies seeking a cause have left the question of combat’s role unanswered. The studies generally focused on whether deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan raised suicide rates, sidestepping whether troops encountered combat on those deployments.

Most of the studies found that deployment had no effect on suicide rates.

The new study is an amendment added to the $1.15 trillion year-end spending measure passed by Congress on Friday. It was inserted by Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado and a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee.

The amendment requires the Defense and Veterans Affairs Departments, which oversee active-duty troops and veterans, to begin the study within a month, using an independent research team to research what it called “the impact of participation in combat during service in the armed forces on suicides and other mental health issues among veterans.”
read more here


In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another
New York Times
By Dave Philipps
Septeber 19, 2015

Members of a Marine battalion that served in a restive region in Afghanistan have been devastated by the deaths of comrades and frustrated by the V.A.

After the sixth suicide in his old battalion, Manny Bojorquez sank onto his bed. With a half-empty bottle of Jim Beam beside him and a pistol in his hand, he began to cry.

He had gone to Afghanistan at 19 as a machine-gunner in the Marine Corps. In the 18 months since leaving the military, he had grown long hair and a bushy mustache. It was 2012. He was working part time in a store selling baseball caps and going to community college while living with his parents in the suburbs of Phoenix. He rarely mentioned the war to friends and family, and he never mentioned his nightmares.

He thought he was getting used to suicides in his old infantry unit, but the latest one had hit him like a brick: Joshua Markel, a mentor from his fire team, who had seemed unshakable. In Afghanistan, Corporal Markel volunteered for extra patrols and joked during firefights. Back home Mr. Markel appeared solid: a job with a sheriff’s office, a new truck, a wife and time to hunt deer with his father. But that week, while watching football on TV with friends, he had wordlessly gone into his room, picked up a pistol and killed himself. He was 25.
read more here


Some were kicked out, yet while members of Congress knew about this practice going back to the Revolutionary War, they played dumb and blind, shocked by the reprehensible treatment.

They paid billions for resilience training even though numbers went up at the same time the number of enlisted went down.

There are over 400,000 veterans charities getting money to "save lives and serve veterans but more die each year.