Sunday, August 28, 2016

Idle Gossip Is Not Helping Any Veteran

PTSD Suicide Awareness or Gossip?
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
August 28, 2016

Last night I had the strangest dream, to borrow a line from Simon and Garfunkel. I was at an event for veterans when I came upon a table with a sign saying PTSD Awareness and a picture of a veteran with his head in his hands.

I stopped to talk to the man behind the table and asked him what his goal was. He looked at me and said "I'm raising awareness that veterans have PTSD."  I asked him if he was a veteran, he said we was not.  I asked him if he was the parent of a veteran but again, he said he was not. Then I asked if he was a mental health professional? Minister? Trained in any other way? He said he was not to all of them as well.

Puzzled and perturbed, I proceeded to try to get some type of clarification of whatever possessed him to think he would be making any kind of difference for our veteran. Turned out he didn't think much at all about any of it other than he wanted my money.

This is exactly what the problem continues to be.
Gossip is idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others; the act of is also known as dishing or tattling. Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins.

Gossip has been researched in terms of its evolutionary psychology origins. This has found gossip to be an important means by which people can monitor cooperative reputations and so maintain widespread indirect reciprocity. Indirect reciprocity is a social interaction in which one actor helps another and is then benefited by a third party. Gossip has also been identified by Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary biologist, as aiding social bonding in large groups.

Social media has also provided a much faster way to share gossip. In only a matter of minutes, harmful gossip and rumors can spread online from one place in the world to another.

The term is sometimes used to specifically refer to the spreading of "dirt" and misinformation, as (for example) through excited discussion of scandals.
All this PTSD Awareness is nothing more than idle gossip.  Keep talking about the problem is only raising awareness that something is happening. Veterans and families already know all about it.

Good place to start maybe to stop talking about their problems unless you are offering solutions!

Military suicide data is not the same as Veteran suicide data, but some of these ne'er-do-wells blend both of them together using just the number of what they think are all there is.

Over the past decade the military has been using unproven training in "resilience" and "prevention" which produced a rise in the number of non-deployed forces. The prevalence of suicides among the non-deployed the DOD continue to focus on should have been a clue the training was worthless. If it did not help the non-deployed, how did they think it would help any of those with multiple deployments?

Finding a solution to Military Suicides cannot be accomplished until they stop doing what has not worked. 

In 2008 the Department of Defense Military Health System launched a website that was supposed to help clear things up. 
"More than 1.5 million troops have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.  The DOD estimates that up to 15-20 percent of returning troops have problems returning home. Irritability, depression, increased stress and relationship difficulties are typical concerns faced by service members and their families following deployment."
Too bad it didn't work.
This came out in 2009 several years after "prevention" started to make news reports.

In past years, the Army, which consists of 1.1 million active and reserve troops, has been just below or on par with the national suicide rate, Geren said.

But this year, with 128 confirmed and 15 pending, an estimated 20.2 suicides occurred per 100,000 soldiers, the highest since the Army began recording the figure in 1980. The figure is higher than the national suicide rate, which is less than 20 victims per 100,000 people.
It turned out they should have been worried because following that piece of news, the Army reported a 25% increase in the number of suicides from 2007 to 2008. By September the problem was so bad the DOD set up a task force to "prevent" suicides. It also turned out that as the number of enlisted went down, it also meant the percentage of suicides went up. 

While the Army thought the record had been surpassed in 2006 at 99 soldiers, along with 948 attempted suicides, the percentage was 17.3 out of 100,000. In June of 2016, USA Today reported that experts were concerned the high military suicide rate was the "new normal" and then added this. "The Army's suicide rate for active-duty soldiers averaged nearly 11-per-100-000 from Sept. 11, 2001, until shortly after the Iraq invasion in 2004. It more than doubled over the next five years, and, with the exception of a spike in 2012, has remained largely constant at 24-to-25-per-100,000, roughly 20% to 25% higher than a civilian population of the same age and gender makeup as the military."

As for our veterans it suicides have gone up 30% since 2001.
The study found that between 2001 and 2014, veteran suicides increased by 32 percent, while civilian suicides increased by 23 percent in the same time period. After controlling for factors like age and gender, this meant veterans faced a 21 percent greater risk for suicide than those who had not served in the armed forces.
So for all the money spent, years of excuses and awareness raising, we seem to be doing a lot more burying and a lot less healing. Maybe tonight I'll have a dream that we'll stop grieving as soon as everyone stops talking and starts doing something about all this!