Real Numbers Should Matter More Than Slogan Of 22Combat PTSD Wounded Times
November 5, 2018
With Veterans Day coming it is more troubling too many in this country have not had the opportunity to become aware of the other numbers that should matter more than a slogan, when the topic is veterans killing themselves.
For far too many veterans, their days are ended with a bullet, or a rope, drugs, car wrecks, a knife or facing off with police officers.
If you still have the number 22 stuck in your head, after you read this, maybe it will disgust you as much as it has sickened me all these years.
Here are just the facts. We need to begin with the group of veterans who pushed for all the research and funding on what war does to those we send.
Vietnam veterans were the first generation to make the battle to heal PTSD public. They were determined to #BreakTheSilence.
Most servicemembers receive fully honorable discharges. However, 1.5 million have received less than fully honorable discharges since 1950.That was from The Comptroller General report to Congress in 1980. That also means that they would not have been counted in any of the suicide reports being released since this decade.
One such veteran was John Shepherd Jr. and this report came out in 2012 on the Hartford Courant.
John Shepherd Jr. enlisted in the Army and earned a Bronze Star for valor fighting with the Ninth Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta in 1969. But after his platoon leader was killed while trying to help him out of a canal, Mr. Shepherd appeared to come undone, eventually refusing to go out on patrol.
He was court-martialed and given an other-than-honorable discharge, making him ineligible for most veterans' benefits. He believes his behavior was the result of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. His immediate problem: PTSD wasn't recognized as a medical condition until 1980.
Why is that important? Because the Department of Veterans Affairs stated clearly, the majority of veterans committing suicide are over the age of 50.
None of those veterans would have been included within the "known" number of veterans committing suicide.
More were added to the omission of numbers that should have mattered. GAO again, released another report May 16, 2017.
GAO's analysis of Department of Defense (DOD) data show that 62 percent, or 57,141 of the 91,764 servicemembers separated for misconduct from fiscal years 2011 through 2015 had been diagnosed within the 2 years prior to separation with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or certain other conditions that could be associated with misconduct.
Specifically, 16 percent had been diagnosed with PTSD or TBI, while the other conditions, such as adjustment and alcohol-related disorders, were more common.
Of the 57,141 servicemembers, 23 percent, or 13,283, received an “other than honorable” characterization of service, making them potentially ineligible for health benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
GAO found that the military services' policies to address the impact of PTSD and TBI on separations for misconduct are not always consistent with DOD policy. For example, contrary to DOD policy, Navy policy does not require a medical examination—or screening—for certain servicemembers being separated in lieu of trial by court-martial to assess whether a PTSD or TBI diagnosis is a mitigating factor in the misconduct charged.
This type of separation occurs when a servicemember facing a trial by court-martial requests, and is approved, to be discharged administratively. In addition, GAO found that two of the four military services have TBI training polices that are inconsistent with DOD policy. GAO also found that the Army and Marine Corps may not have adhered to their own screening, training, and counseling policies related to PTSD and TBI.
For example, GAO found that 18 of the 48 nongeneralizable sample separation packets reviewed for Marine Corps servicemembers administratively separated for misconduct lacked documentation showing that the servicemember had been screened for PTSD and TBI.
During interviews with Army officers, GAO found that some officers may not have received training to identify mild TBI symptoms, despite Army policy that all servicemembers should be trained. Further, GAO found instances in which both Army and Marine Corps may not have adhered to their counseling policies, which require that servicemembers, specifically prior to requesting separation in lieu of trial by court-martial, be counseled about their potential ineligibility for VA benefits and services.
For 11 of the 48 separation packets included in GAO's analysis of Army servicemembers who requested separation in lieu of trial by court-martial, there was no documented evidence—or the evidence was unclear—as to whether the servicemembers received counseling.
KPPC in 2016 reported the number of "bad paper discharges" since 1990, was 615,000.
None of them would have been counted in the suicide data.
Getting back to the data itself, this chart shows the "known" suicides in the first VA Suicide report released in 2012.
This is from the latest report from the VA on known suicides.As you can see, the percentages went up and the number of living veterans dropped by over 4 million. Again, as with all the reports, the majority of veterans committing suicide were over the age of 50, as well as the majority of the less than honorable discharges, were also of those older generations.
If you are among the veterans who were kicked out instead of treated, the VA is trying to find you~
VA Struggles To Reach Other-Than-Honorable-Discharge Vets In Need Of Help
The VA last year estimated there are more than 500,000 OTH vets.
Nationally, 115 veterans have used the program, a figure that's disappointing to veterans advocates. They say it represents just a small fraction of the veterans who now qualify for mental health care.
"It's not possible that that's the number of people who need help," said Kristofer Goldsmith, an Iraq vet who works with the Vietnam Veterans of America. "It's a failure to contact them, to fully inform them and to break the stigma."
Vietnam Veterans of America lobbied the VA to help veterans with other-than-honorable discharges.
"It's a program that most people who are eligible for don't know about, and the reason for that is that VA refused to do any outreach," said Vietnam Veterans of America executive director Rick Weidman.Weidman said there was an internal debate over whether the VA could pay to reach out to veterans who normally don't qualify for VA care.After racking my brain for one more piece of all of this, is a report from Jacksonville Times Union going back to 2014. The report said that there were only 250,000 Vietnam veterans with "less than honorable discharges" and that "80,000" of them may be due to PTSD.