July 2, 2016
We can keep talking about raising awareness all we want but after six years of PTSD Awareness Months being dedicated by the Congress, veterans are still not aware their last worst day did not have to end their lives.
After all the talk about raising awareness the public knows just about as much as Rip Van Winkle did about current events in his time.
VA Suicide Report 2012 While that report was from just 21 states, the follow up was from 23 states. Even with that reporters jumped on the "22 a day" leaving the American public to think they learned anything. What they learned was wrong. Too much was missed because it was far too easy to just grab a headline than to think much about any of this.“If he couldn’t make it, what chance do I have?” Manny BojorquezOf about 1,200 Marines who deployed with the 2/7 in 2008, at least 13 have killed themselves, two while on active duty, the rest after they left the military. The resulting suicide rate for the group is nearly four times the rate for young male veterans as a whole and 14 times that for all Americans.
In Unit Stalked by Suicide, Veterans Try to Save One Another New York Times Dave Philipps September 2015
And now you can see that very little has changed other than more veterans are now in their graves because a lie was allowed to live, folks gained financially claiming to be doing something and these veterans did not hear what they needed to know. The fact they can heal and do not have to suffer was something they never knew.
As you can see, the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50 in the VA system and among veterans who do not go to the VA. But we do not talk about them. Why not?
Why have all the newer charities popping up all over the country go on unchallenged? Why do members of Congress get a pat on the back for repeating what has already failed our veterans?
Why do they get to keep saying "22 a day" and use "veterans" even though they do not do anything for the older veterans suffering long with the same wounds the newer veterans have? Why are they cast aside?
This is Independence weekend. Monday we are supposed to be celebrating freedom but if folks bother to reflect on how that happened, they would not feel much like celebrating. The price paid by those who put their lives on the line is far too great of a price to pay for fireworks and BBQ.
Winn Dixie, a grocery chain, is promoting a charity, Hope for the Warriors. Not bad until you actually hear the commercial about our independence and then discover this group is about post-9-11 veterans and not all the others who put their lives on the line for generations.
The charity they picked last year was Wounded Warrior Project, when they ran the same type of commercial making folks think it was all about all our veterans instead of a few.
The Independence Day donation program is a venture of Southeastern Grocers, Winn Dixie's parent company. More than 700 Winn Dixie grocery stores across the Southeastern states will participate. Last year's profit donation drive raised more than $3 million for veterans.
There is nothing wrong with supporting a charity that has a particular focus. It is wrong when it is publicized as being all about veterans in general.
The worst thing in all of this is that Vietnam veterans had to come home and start their own group because no one else wanted them. The established charities turned them away. Now they head the DAV, VFW and American Legion.
Forgotten warrior veterans were responsible for all the research done on PTSD but are the last to matter in the reports focused on PTSD. They are the last to matter when they are the majority of the claims in the VA system. They are the last to matter to raising awareness to the communities they live in.
So when you think about donating to a charity for the sake of our veterans on Independence Day, how about you do it with open eyes and learn how many have been forgotten?
Add those deaths together and you arrive at 90,320 but all you know is that there are over 58,000 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall. While the dates are the "acknowledged" years of the Vietnam War, the first name on that wall was,
Richard B. Fitzgibbon, of North Weymouth, Mass. is listed by the U.S. Department of Defense as having a casualty date of June 8, 1956. His name is listed on the Wall with that of his son, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Richard B. Fitzgibbon III, who has a casualty date of Sept. 7, 1965.