VA’s latest data from 2019 shows a decrease in suicide among Veterans from the year prior. The decrease, reflecting the lowest number of Veteran suicides since 2007, provides hope and motivation for continued prevention efforts.
The pictures below are strikingly similar and tragic, and many are asking the question how could this great nation repeat the failure of 46 years ago?
Taken Amid Embassy Evacuation Some Call Biden’s ‘Saigon Moment’ Is Striking 14 Aug 2021 -Business – InsiderPhoto
Evacuation of US Embassy Saigon 29 April 1975 – NY Daily News
The following is from the Veterans Administration and offers some good counsel for fo those who served in Afgan, or any theater for that matter, I pray it will be of help to you or someone you know:
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service. It’s normal to feel this way. Talk with your friends and families, reach out to battle buddies, connect with a peer-to-peer network, or sign up for mental health services. Scroll down for a list of common reactions and coping advice.
In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:
- Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
- Feel angry or betrayed
- Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
- Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
- Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
- Have more military and homecoming memories
Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:
- Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
- Become preoccupied by danger
- Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future
Feeling distressed is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.
Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress
At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives, or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.
It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:
- Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
- Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
- Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
- Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
- Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
- Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
- PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.
If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.
Resources available right now
- Veterans Crisis Line – If you are having thoughts of suicide, call 1-800-273-8255, then PRESS 1 or visit http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/
- For emergency mental health care, you can also go directly to your local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of your discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care.
- Vet Centers – Discuss how you feel with other Veterans in these community-based counseling centers. 70% of Vet Center staff are Veterans. Call 1-877-927-8387 or find one near you.
- VA Mental Health Services Guide – This guide will help you sign up and access mental health services.
- MakeTheConnection.net – information, resources, and Veteran to Veteran videos for challenging life events and experiences with mental health issues.
- RallyPoint – Talk to other Veterans online. Discuss: What are your feelings as the Taliban reclaim Afghanistan after 20 years of US involvement?
- Download VA’s self-help apps – Tools to help deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
- Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) – Request a Peer Mentor
- VA Women Veterans Call Center – Call or text 1-855-829-6636 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 6:30PM ET)
- VA Caregiver Support Line – Call 1-855-260-3274 (M-F 8AM – 10PM & SAT 8AM – 5PM ET)
- Together We Served –Find your battle buddies through unit pages
- George W. Bush Institute – Need help or want to talk? Check In or call:1-630-522-4904 or email: email@example.com
- Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes – Join the Community
- American Red Cross Military Veteran Caregiver Network – Peer Support and Mentoring
- Team Red, White & Blue – Hundreds of events weekly. Find a chapter in your area.
- Student Veterans of America – Find a campus chapter to connect with.
- Team Rubicon – Find a local support squad.
The Department of Veterans Affairs hasn’t wasted this many taxpayer dollars since the Obama administration. On Saturday, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough announced the VA would start the regulatory ball rolling on conducting transgender surgeries for veterans in their taxpayer-funded hospitals. The announcement was an early Father’s Day gift for the transgender lobby — although they probably are working to have the holiday renamed Happy Care-giver 1 or 2 Day…
Source: The Lies We Pay For
While in no means complete, this (sourced edited) list from a recent VA email gives a good start to some interesting stops. I have added some of my own with links and hope you will do the same in the comments.
- The National World War II Museum in New Orleans:
- Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor National Memorial:
- The National WWI Museum and Memorial in Kansas City:
- Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston:
- Boston’s Black Heritage Trail:
- Vicksburg National Military Park:
- Gettysburg National Military Park:
- Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution:
- The San Diego Air & Space Museum :
- Explore Revolutionary War History in charming Castine, Maine:
Here are are a few of my favorites:
- Middle East Conflicts Wall Memorial Marselles, IL
- Missouri’s National Veterans Memorial, Perryville, MO
- Planes of Fame Air Museum, Chino CA
- U.S. Veterans Memorial Museum, Huntsville, AL
- Confederate Memorial Hall Museum, New Orleans, LA
- Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington, VA
- National Museum of the Pacific War, Fredericksburg, TX
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Relating to civilians was a challenge for Schuyler after he got out of the Army. He felt on edge, and sometimes he had trouble managing his frustration. He didn’t believe he had PTSD, but he knew something wasn’t right. Learning he had a traumatic brain injury led him to VA and Vet Center resources that helped him turn his life around.
Friday, April 23, 2021
1 pm EST – Noon CST – 11 am MST – 10 am PST
The official Va stats for Veteran suicide is 22-A-Day, most non-governmental veteran advocate groups believe that number is underreported. Education is our best hope of prevention. - Mike
You are cordially invited to participate in a Virtual Suicide Awareness and Prevention Town Hall meeting, Friday, April 23, 2021 at 1 pm EST. There will be an Atlanta VA Suicide Prevention presentation along with representation from the Wounded Warrior Project, Gratitude America, and Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in attendance to address concerns.
Due to the number of participants, please sign in no later than 12:50pm EST via the Zoom information below.
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 820 8057 1271 Passcode: 615019
Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 558 8656 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 9128 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 820 8057 1271 Passcode: 615019
Each Wednesday night, VA sends an e-mail jam packed with free resources, important updates, and even discounts for Veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors. In 2020, the #VetResources newsletter was opened 182 million times and drove 40 million clicks to VA and non-VA resources. VA makes no endorsements of the privately offered resources but shares them to make the Veteran community aware of all that is available.
The most popular Veteran resources of 2020
- Borne the Battle Podcast – VA’s weekly, flagship podcast interviewed Veterans such as Duke Basketball’s Coach Mike Krzyzewski, UFC’s and Fox Sports’ Brian Stann, and the 36th Army Chief of Staff George Casey. BtB also hosted special Benefits Breakdown episodes, sharing new resources for the Veteran community. Listen now or learn more.
- Most Popular State Veteran Benefits – U.S. states offer Veterans a wide range of benefits, such as education, tax breaks, or hunting licenses.
- DoD answers top 10 questions on expanded commissary, exchange, MWR access – Did you know eligible Veterans may now have access to on-base Commissaries, Military Service Exchanges and MWRs?
- #FightFlu this year with a flu shot, at no charge – Enrolled Veterans can get a flu shot from a VA facility or local provider.
- Economic Impact Payment – Individuals who receive certain Veterans benefits but didn’t receive the $500 payment per child earlier this year can still file for the $500 payment.
- VA Welcome Kit adds 10 new guides for Veterans and their families.
- Veterans, Gold Star Families get free entrance to national parks, refuges, other public lands.
- Your Next VA Home Loan – What the County Loan Limit change means for you.
- Disabled Veterans can fly Space Available Flights for free.
- Free audio books for Veterans with disabilities.
- 1-800-MyVA411 (800-698-2411) is the one number to reach VA.
- Amazon is helping Veterans start their own delivery business.
- Independence Fund expands program with gift cards for Veterans.
- 5 ways to connect with other Veterans using RallyPoint.
- Combat Veteran finds success through Veterans Curation Program.
- Which VA life insurance program is best for you?
- Five surprising facts about a VA career.
- Comcast offers 60 days of free internet service to low-income households.
- Free premium profile on TogetherWeServed.
- Announcing the Veterans Benefits Banking Program.
More than 180 blogs on Veteran Resources can be found on VA’s blog at: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/category/vets-experience/vetresources/
YESTERDAY was the International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day. If a Veteran loved one has died by suicide, you are not alone.
VA offers support after suicide loss
Veterans have a significantly higher suicide rate than other adults in the U.S. This means Veterans are also more likely to have known someone who took their own life. Uniting for Suicide Postvention (USPV) helps make sense of a suicide loss. The program connects survivors with resources to help them work through powerful and unique emotions specific to this type of grief.
Some survivors blame themselves for not noticing warning signs, even though such signs may not have been obvious. And the effects extend beyond close family members. Even first responders, who never personally knew the deceased person, can be affected emotionally by the suicide scene.
USPV provides postvention information and resources to assist survivors as they navigate their healing journey, both immediately after the loss and in the months and years that follow.
What is postvention, and who benefits from it?
Suicide prevention aims to avert incident, while postvention fosters healing afterward, for those touched by the loss. With tens of thousands of suicides every year in the U.S., coping with the aftermath is an unfortunate reality for more people than some might think. For every suicide, an estimated average of 135 people are affected.
How is suicide postvention part of prevention?
Experts consider exposure to suicide a risk factor for suicide. Survivors are at greater risk for substance use disorders and mental health issues than those who haven’t experienced such a loss. This includes including thoughts of suicide. Those exposed to suicide in the workplace are 3.5 times more likely than others to take their own lives. In a military unit with five or more suicide attempts in a year, the risk for another attempt is double that of units that had no attempts.
Grief after loss can be so intense that it prevents survivors from seeking help at a critical crossroad. But by helping survivors heal after a suicide, postvention reduces the risk of additional suicides in the deceased person’s circle. In that way, postvention healing is a vital component of prevention. Postvention is so important that the Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) has established USPV as part of VA’s mission to develop, disseminate and implement a comprehensive prevention program.
To learn more about USPV at the Rocky Mountain MIRECC, visit https://www.mirecc.va.gov/visn19/postvention/.
- If you or someone you know is in crisis, don’t hesitate to get help.
- Call 9-1-1 immediately.
- Contact the Veterans Crisis Line, which connects service members and Veterans in crisis, as well as their family members and friends, with qualified, caring VA responders. Call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, text to 838255, or chat online at net/Chat.
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741.
- The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) provides free, compassionate care and survivor support services for the families of America’s fallen military heroes. Services include peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, grief seminars and retreats for adults, Good Grief Camps for children, casework assistance, connections to community-based care, online and in-person support groups and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been profoundly affected by the death of a military loved one. For more information, visit taps.org or call the toll-free information helpline at 1-800-959-TAPS (8277).
- See related story, Postvention is key to suicide prevention says surviving spouse, advocate