Saturday, February 4, 2017

CONGRESS: Stop Making Veterans Wait

Members of Congress, you are now on notice that we noticed what you failed to do.

There are no more acceptable excuses you can use. You can no longer pretend to be stunned by the outcome of your failures.

Yesterday I met with a young veteran and his wife after working all day. Another veteran had reached out to him and he needed some answers. Above all else, he needed some hope that his life could get better. It was one more case of massive failures being repeated while these veterans are forced to wait for our elected officials to actually do their jobs.

Sitting with them, listening to their story, seeing their young daughter running around, reminded me of what it was like when I was just a little older than they are. They feel just as lost as I did, just as alone, hearing the wrong advise, being deluded by what others say and feeling abandoned as well as betrayed.

Over three decades after I met my husband, the fact that we knew more back then, than these new veterans know, is a testament to our tenacity and your neglect.

In 1946 the first House Veterans Affairs Committee was seated. As for the Senate "The Veterans' Affairs committee was created in 1970 to transfer responsibilities for veterans from the Finance and Labor committees to a single panel. From 1947 to 1970, matters relating to veterans compensation and veterans generally were referred to the Committee on Finance, while matters relating to the vocational rehabilitation, education, medical care, civil relief, and civilian readjustment of veterans were referred to the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare."

Frankly, ever since then, the committees have been sitting down on the job ever since. We're tired of hearing the bullshit. We're tired of you holding hearings year after year, listening to the result of your failures when devastated families share their heartbreaking stories with you, hoping you will actually do something to prevent others from experiencing their anguish.

Here are the questions you need to get answers for if you want to prove you actually give a crap and deserve to be put back in office again. 

How many Bills have you passed on Suicide Prevention?
You need look back at least to 2007 when you passed the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act in January of the 110th session and signed into law by President Bush in November of 2007.
What has PTSD Awareness achieved?

The National Center for PTSD promotes awareness of PTSD and effective treatments throughout the year. Starting in 2010, Congress named June 27th PTSD Awareness Day (S. Res. 455). In 2014, the Senate designated the full month of June for National PTSD Awareness (S. Res. 481). Efforts are underway to continue this designation for the third consecutive year in 2016.

What has military/veteran Suicide Prevention achieved?
As directed by Section 733 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2009, the Secretary of Defense established a Task Force “to examine matters relating to prevention of suicide by members of the Armed Forces.” The Department of Defense (DoD) Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide by Members of the Armed Forces(hereafter referred to as the Task Force) was created and comprised of seven DoD and seven non-DoD professionals with expertise in national suicide prevention policy, military personnel policy, research in the field of suicide prevention, clinical care in mental health, military chaplaincy and pastoral care, and military families.

The Task Force, established in August 2009, has prepared the following report for the Secretary of Defense, detailing the research, results, and recommendations from a year-long review of data, studies, programs, and discussions with Service Members, their families, and their caregivers. The intent of this report is to provide the Secretary of Defense and DoD leadership with actionable and measurable recommendations for policy and programs designed to prevent suicide by members of the Armed Forces.

The Task Force used five main data sources in the creation of the report (a compilation of each is located in the appendices):
 Review of existing scientific literature
 Presentations from subject matter experts
 Public information (including participation from family members of suicide victims)
 Panel discussions (including suicide attempt survivors)
 Information gathered from eyes-on field visits to military installations.
In case you didn't notice, they become veterans carrying the burden of their service, so when you fail them during their service, you have already failed them as veterans. Oh, sorry almost forgot to mention that when you start wars and send them into harms way, you have created more veterans needing the care they were promised. Guess you forgot to mention to them that care depended on what you could get away with ignoring and how fast you could insult that service by sending veterans into a civilian system you also complain about.

The evidence is clear. The outcome is due to your extreme ignorance or ambivalence to your own history,

I am sure you noticed all the protests against what you have "accomplished" thus far. 

Suicides went up. Awareness is a slogan, not a solution. Stop repeating what already failed and start demanding accountability in your own house!