Why There Needs to Be More Attention Given to Veteran Families After a Veteran Suicide

Why There Needs to Be More Attention Given to Veteran Families After a Veteran Suicide

Families Bear The Burden of Even the Best Laid Suicide Plans

When we think of the sacrifices made by our brave veterans, we often focus on their service and the challenges they face during their time in the military. However, it is equally important to acknowledge the struggles their families go through, especially after a veteran suicide. The impact of such a tragic event extends far beyond the individual, affecting the mental health and well-being of their loved ones. In this article, we will explore why there needs to be more attention given to veteran families after a veteran suicide postvention and highlight the significance of providing comprehensive support systems to help them navigate this difficult journey.

The Toll of Veteran Suicide on Families: Unraveling the Aftermath

The Devastating Ripple Effect

The aftermath of a veteran suicide reverberates throughout the entire family unit. It shatters the lives of spouses, children, parents, and siblings, leaving them grappling with grief, guilt, and a myriad of complex emotions. The sudden loss of a loved one to suicide can lead to a host of psychological and emotional challenges, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even an increased risk of suicide among family members.

A Closer Look at the Statistics

To understand the gravity of the situation, let’s examine some statistics related to veteran suicide and its impact on families:

1. According to a report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, an average of 17.6 veterans die by suicide each day in the United States.
2. Approximately 20% of all suicides in the country are committed by veterans, despite veterans comprising only about 7% of the population.
3. The suicide rate among veterans is 1.5 times higher than that of the general population.

These figures highlight the urgent need for a more comprehensive approach to address the mental health needs of not only veterans but also their families.

Why There Needs to Be More Attention Given to Veteran Families After a Veteran Suicide Postvention

It is crucial to recognize the unique challenges faced by veteran families after a suicide and provide them with the support they need. Here are several compelling reasons why we must direct more attention to these families during the postvention process:

1. Breaking the Stigma and Providing Validation

After the suicide of a veteran, families often encounter societal stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health and suicide. This can exacerbate their feelings of isolation and prevent them from seeking help. By acknowledging the struggles faced by these families, we can break down the barriers of shame and provide them with the validation they need to start the healing process.

2. Addressing the Mental Health Impact

The mental health repercussions of losing a loved one to suicide can be profound and long-lasting. It is essential to provide mental health support services tailored specifically for veteran families. This can include counseling, therapy, support groups, and access to psychiatric care. By prioritizing mental health in postvention efforts, we can help mitigate the risk of further tragedies within these families.

3. Empowering Resilience and Coping Mechanisms

Veteran families need tools and resources to help them build resilience and develop effective coping mechanisms. Providing them with education and training on grief management, stress reduction techniques, and self-care strategies can equip them with the necessary skills to navigate the complex emotional landscape they find themselves in.

4. Strengthening Family Bonds and Communication

The aftermath of a veteran suicide can strain family relationships and communication. By fostering an environment of open dialogue and empathy, we can help family members better understand and support one another. Family therapy and relationship-building programs can play a pivotal role in strengthening these bonds and promoting healing within the family unit.

5. Ensuring Financial Stability

In addition to the emotional toll, the suicide of a veteran can also have significant financial implications for their family. Many families rely on the veteran’s income, and sudden loss can plunge them into financial distress. Offering financial assistance, job training programs, and educational scholarships can help mitigate the economic impact and provide a sense of stability for these families.

6. Collaborative Efforts and Community Support

Addressing the needs of veteran families after a suicide requires a comprehensive approach that involves collaboration between government agencies, mental health organizations, community support networks, and veteran service organizations. By working together, we can create a robust support system that ensures no family is left behind.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Q: Is suicide among veterans preventable?

A: While it is challenging to predict and prevent all instances of suicide, taking a proactive and comprehensive approach to mental health, providing early intervention, and ensuring access to mental health resources can significantly reduce the risk of veteran suicide.

2. Q: How can society contribute to supporting veteran families after a suicide?

A: Society can contribute by fostering a supportive environment, breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, and actively engaging in suicide prevention efforts. Additionally, individuals can volunteer, donate to organizations that support veteran families, and educate themselves on mental health issues.

3. Q: Are there specific risk factors that make veterans more vulnerable to suicide?

A: Yes, several risk factors contribute to the increased vulnerability of veterans to suicide. These include combat exposure, PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, substance abuse, social isolation, and difficulty transitioning back to civilian life.

4. Q: How can schools and educational institutions support children of veterans affected by suicide?

A: Schools can create a safe and inclusive environment by implementing mental health programs, offering counseling services, and providing educational support tailored to the unique needs of these children. Additionally, educating teachers and staff about the challenges faced by veteran families can foster empathy and understanding.

5. Q: What role can the media play in raising awareness about the importance of supporting veteran families after a suicide?

A: The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception and influencing societal attitudes. By reporting responsibly, highlighting personal stories, and focusing on the need for comprehensive support, the media can raise awareness and foster dialogue around this critical issue.

6. Q: How can veteran families access the support they need?

A: There are numerous organizations and resources available to assist veteran families. The Department of Veterans Affairs, local veterans’ service organizations, and mental health nonprofits often provide counseling services, support groups, and assistance with navigating the various support systems available.


The impact of veteran suicide extends far beyond the individual and profoundly affects their families. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by veteran families after a suicide is vital for their well-being and overall mental health. By providing comprehensive support systems, breaking down stigma, and fostering resilience and communication, we can help these families heal and navigate the difficult path towards recovery. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that no veteran family is left behind.

OAS Advocates on H.R. 3495, Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act

OAS Advocates on H.R. 3495, Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act

Bill Amendments Limits Groups Who Could Help the Most

What started out as good news for Veterans at risk and out of contact with the VA turned bad with an amendment to H.R. 3495. An amendment, penned by Mark Takano, United States Representative for California, turned that all on it’s head now. Groups whose missions call for Veteran suicide prevention rallied up and weighed in, Once a Soldier among them.

Today brings a vote on H.R. 3495, Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act. This bill would require the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to provide financial assistance to eligible entities to provide and coordinate the provision of suicide prevention services for veterans at risk of suicide and veteran families through the award of grants to such entities, and for other purposes.

Financially speaking, the bill would also grant up to $750,000/year one and $1,000,000 year two and beyond to some nonprofits. While not perfect, it’s not the bill that got us involved, but an Amendment to it by Mark Takano, United States Representative for California’s 41st congressional district since 2013.

Interesting side note: This bill has a 2% chance of being enacted, according to Skopos Labs. Update: pass percentage is now 20.



Our Advocacy Efforts on H.R. 3495

It is argued by Once a Soldier, and our name is signed to a list of name at the end of a letter to  that Rep. Takano’s Amendment would miss some of the “boots on the front line” of the fight to stop soldier suicide. Specifically, our letter included this language:

“While the regional coordination service grants envisioned in the legislation are important, and as a group we support them, they are not enough to adequately engage on veteran suicide prevention. We also need innovative and non-traditional veteran suicide prevention programs which combat veteran isolation and lack of community connection wherever those “communities” may lie.”

Once a Soldier has always been innovative and non-traditional, so we feel that our approach will be validated by this bill.

Our Partners

We have to give all the credit for our involvement in this bill Bob “Shoebob” Carey.,CAPT, USN (Ret), who is the Chief Advocacy Officer for The Independence Fund. His efforts to build a coalition of Veteran and Behavioral Health organization leaders caught us up. His email four days ago asking for our signature on a letter that was forwarded to the right parties was a great opportunity for us. While we don’t enjoy the luxury of a full-time Advocacy Officer, we could see that his position was one we could support. And we did.

Here is the complete text of the letter sent December 4, 2019.

Others that signed the letter: 


  • The Independence Fund
  • TREA – The Enlisted Association
  • National Association of American Veterans, Inc.
  • Veterans Healing Farm
  • Travis Manion Foundation
  • Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
  • National Alliance to End Veteran Suicide
  • AMVETS – American Veterans
  • PsychHub
  • SAW – Save a Warrior
  • Once a Soldier
  • Angel Force
  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Psych Armor

John Rutherford is our district’s Representative in the House. We have advocated successfully with is office in the past, as seen here and here, and they have been greatly supportive of our cause. This latest effort is no different. But, Rep. Rutherford will not involved in today’s vote, we are working with them for the future should it come before him for a vote.


Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.