Saturday, July 9, 2016

Stopping Veterans From Committing Suicide Requires Facts First

When Nothing Changes, We Need To
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
July 9, 2016

While folks want to run around the country screaming about "22 a day" few are actually doing much to change the outcome on veterans taking their own lives.

I get the phone calls and email all the time about this group and that group deciding they are need to change what is happening yet when asked, they cannot even answer basic questions.

The only question I am earnestly seeking an answer to is, if everyone is doing something about veterans committing suicide, then why are there more suicides with less veterans? None of them know the answer but even worse, none of them have actually even considered the question important enough to think about.
Most suicides by U.S. veterans are by those over age 50: study was reported on Reuters by Alex Dobuzinskins.
"Of the veterans known to have committed suicide in 2014, the latest year for which such data was available, 65 percent were at least 50 years of age, old enough to have served in the 1990-91 Gulf War, the Vietnam War or previous conflicts."
While this is not news to most of us, it is news to the majority of reporters pushing the reports on suicides leaving far too many to just jump on "22 a day" so they can pretend to be doing something to change the outcomes.

We have seen it all coming out of Washington when politicians get publicity for writing a bill that simply repeats what they already passed and paid for just as more and more veterans managed to pay with their lives.  So far, after over a decade of misguided efforts the amount of money is in the billions and the deaths by suicides are in the thousands.

As more veterans charities raise funds we need to know what the results are. We have seen in in groups popping up all over the country claiming to be doing something to change the end for our veterans.
A Donor's Guide to Serving the Needs of Veterans and the Military "Donors who want to make contributions towards charitable programs that serve the military and veterans face an almost overwhelming volume of choices with, by some accounts, the existence of over 40,000 nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the military and veterans and an estimated 400,000 service organizations that in some way touch veterans or service members.

Even the 2013/2014 Directory of Veterans and Military Service Organizations published by the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs as an informational service for veterans seeking support lists over 140 national nonprofit organizations. Additionally, the number of new veterans charities has increased relatively rapidly over the past five years or so, growing by 41% since 2008 compared with 19% for charities in general, according to The Urban Institute as reported in a December 2013 The NonProfit Times article.

As bad as all that sounds, the truth is so much worse.

In 1999 the Department of Veterans Affairs showed that 20 veterans were committing suicide per day. It is being reported at the same number today. 

In 1977 the Forgotten Warrior Project reported on what was happening to Vietnam veterans and all the other generations before them.  It was not good. But back then, everyone had excuses to not know anything about it.  We did not have the internet. I did not know anything about any of this until my Dad (Korean Veteran) met my then Vietnam Veteran boyfriend and used the words "shell shock." That was in 1982.

We are right back to where we started with less veterans.
Census 2000 counted 208.1 million civilians 18 and older in the United States. Within this population, approximately 26.4 million or 12.7 percent were veterans. Census data define a civilian veteran as someone 18 and older who is not currently on active duty, but who once served on active duty in the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II.2 This definition includes people who served for even a short time.
And for 2013 according to the US Census the number of veterans were in fact lower.
19.6 million
Number of military veterans in the United States in 2013.
Source: 2013 American Community Survey
Almost 7 million less veterans but still the VA says there are the same amount of veterans committing suicide?

How can any of this be acceptable to anyone? When do we actually wake up to the reality families face all over the country while a slogan is all folks need to use while we suffer and bury our family members? When do we actually do something beyond cry?