Coming Home to a Different Type of Danger
PTSD and substance abuse are two enemies that our veterans find themselves fighting in 2018. The combat exposure in Iraq and Afghanistan are linked, in various studies, to a sharp increase in the major mental health conditions reported in the U.S. military. Military members are returning from deployment with serious physical and mental health problems and, without the proper help provided, may attempt to self-medicate by abusing alcohol or drugs.
Substance abuse, like alcohol abuse and opioid addiction are the most common substance abuse cases in the military population. Just as the opioid epidemic is sweeping the nation, the epidemic is growing among veterans who have been prescribed these addictive drugs for injuries. Use over time can create a dependency, which can lead to a serious addiction. Over 40% of veterans suffer alcohol abuse at some point, and prescription drug abuse among military members is 2 ½ times higher than civilian rates.
In a study investigating suicide risk factors among all active duty members of the U.S. military in 2005 and 2007, it was found that suicide rates increased in every branch. A number of factors were found to coincide with the increase in suicides rates, one of which was the use of selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or other prescription drugs. While SSRIs seem to be a common treatment for PTSD and other mental health disorders, such as anxiety or depression, studies have shown that they may increase the risk of suicide. More research should be done to fully understand how these factors impact suicide rates, and to find solutions that may decrease the incidence of suicide.
Veteran substance abuse often coincides with post traumatic stress disorder. In order to fully recover, both disorders need to be addressed and treated. Treating the substance abuse without addressing the other mental health disorders will likely result in a relapse.
Solider suicide isn’t what you think. The overwhelming majority – 14 out of 22 – are not committed by young kids who lose their nerve in battle. Or by an active duty lifer who just can’t deal one more day. These tragic events do happen every day, and that’s a real shame, but what soldier suicide really looks like is a white man, color doesn’t matter here, over the age of 50 who can’t stand the PTSD anymore, the VA visits that go nowhere, and a thousand other reasons I have no insight into. But what I do know now is that these suicides are happening in the parking lot of their VA and still no great leap forward. Mission not yet accomplished.
Once a Soldier knows that the Veterans Administration can’t keep up with the need. We are not here to fix or even understand what the problems or offer a solution. We are here because like so many others, we just can’t escape the hard reality of veteran soldier suicide. Our mission is to aid their families, but we now realize that that is just a small part of a bigger whole. We remain happy in our mission, but we have to face the facts of veteran soldier suicide.
In short, stop soldier suicide and stop doing it in the VA parking lot. It’s not working and it’s too sad to continue. That’s not an order, that’s a plea. I have no solution and can only ask. Up until today, I had no knowledge of these types of soldier suicide. Sad to say, the reasons that are listed as to why in one of the following stories actually makes sense. Twisted and sorrowful, but very practical.
Here’s a comment we received that prompted our discovery process into the VA suicides and that offers an insider’s view of the situation. I’ve edited it very slightly to better highlight what I think the author’s points are:
U** R****** on February 4, 2018 at 2:55 pm
Seen as an inside observer of the medical community and also as a VA patient.
1. Parking lot suicides are done for two reasons.
Veterans do not want their loved ones to find their bodies and know the VA will dispose of them. The other reason is that it is the final FU to a government which is so full of bureaucracy it has rendered itself useless. However, in all fairness, this trend has extended itself to the civilian sector as well for quite some time where medical care is a form of Russian Roulette. Some are lucky to escape without harm, others end up damaged or dead. The word is collateral damage in medical care.
2. Too Much Papework
Dropping the ball in delivering medical care to veterans and civilians is becoming the norm. Health care workers are undulated (sic) with so much paper work for documentation and rules they have to follow as guidelines for the delivery of each aspect of care, they are utilizing the time they used to spend of patient care to document each and every move they make. If a time and motion study was implemented it would amaze people to know that more then (sic) 90 per cent of their time is spend documenting and covering their asses. If you are a VA patient, the time you spend with your provide (sic) is less than a few minutes because the rest of what they provide is looking at the computer screen, charting.
3. Profits over People
The patient has been considered the “consumer” in the medical field for over 20 years, whereby in civilian sectors they are called consumers. The word alone indicates that the patient has been placed on the Back 40, because the definition of consumer is purchaser, buyer, customer, shopper and patron. This enforces everything we read and know about medical care, it is a profit making organization and nothing more. The VA is blatant about their desire to make profit at the cost of the veterans who rely on their care. There are more and more job descriptions placed on each healthcare worker, and when there is a hiring freeze, they delegate the empty slots between the health care workers left, to carry the load, which frustrates and stresses them out because of work overload. The VA figures their health care providers and workers can function doing the workload of those they did not replace. The workers who are left trying their best to do their jobs, end up leaving, or are so overworked, the ball in medical care is dropped. The bottom line: profit.
Inasmuch as the VA is trying to curtail the numbers of suicides of their veterans, the task is equivalent to the war on drugs. A waste of time and money because the war on drugs was lost a long time ago and cost the tax payers more money than the fight was worth. One can not prevent intentional suicide. Impossible. Each case is different and each person is different. What goes through the human mind when the person reaches the final stage of ending his/her life can not be controlled.
Thank you for your time,
(URs name is edited for privacy reasons. Although he posted this comment, I don’t want to use it as his content is being repurposed.)
Here’s more insight and stories from these VA parking lot suicides.
63-year-old Paul Shuping was found in the parking lot by Durham VA police. A six-year Navy vet, Mr. Shuping’s act was discovered six days after it was committed. Offered partial benefits, he was denied full benefits due to a paperwork error. On top of his PTSD and depression, that was the final straw. Read the rest of the news story here.
A 76-year-old veteran committed suicide on Sunday, August 23,2016, in the parking lot of the Northport Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Long Island, New York. Mr. Peter A. Kaisen “went to the E.R. and was denied service,” one of the people, who currently works at the hospital, said. “And then he went to his car and shot himself.” The rest of that New York Times article is here.
Mr. Kaisen’s was a big story that was heard around the country because at the time, it was considered shocking. “At the time” means as recent as a year and a half ago.
One last one:
Police say the 53-year-old veteran, Thomas Murphy, drove to the Phoenix VA regional office with a goodbye note and gun. Interestingly, a whistleblower at the VA, Brandon Coleman, has been put on leave, as of May 11, 2015, for trying to shed some light on the problems of at-risk vets. That news story is here.
Three reasons why vets are killing themselves in the VA parking lot and three stories of veteran soldier suicides that drive home the point. Also, they were all older white men who picked up a gun to solve the problems of PTSD, an overwhelmed VA system, and not enough benefits. There’s probably not an official tally of how many vets have killed themselves at a VA parking lot. There doesn’t need to be. One is enough to send the message. All of these and the message is clear: the message isn’t getting through.
Anonymous Donor offers up to $4 million towards PTSD Research
Pineapple Fund, a Bitcoin-only charity, has promised to match up to $4 million in donations to a nonprofit for MDMA-based PTSD research.
The non-profit leading the research, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), is seeking $25 million in donations for Phase 3 of their drug trials. MAPS hopes to use MDMA-assisted psychotherapy as an effective treatment for PTSD sufferers.
The Pineapple Fund was created in early December 2017 by an anonymous donor who goes by the Reddit handle /u/PineappleFund. The donor presents themselves as an early Bitcoin adopter whose goal is to give $86 mln, or 5057 bitcoins, of earnings to charity.
A Jan. 10 Reddit post by /u/PineappleFund calls for donations to MAPS and announces the $4 mln pledge. The post also explains the usefulness of the MAPS trials due to what the anonymous donor sees as a lack of effective FDA-approved treatments for those suffering from PTSD.
/u/PineappleFund appeals to the cryptocurrency community to send Bitcoin or fiat payments as donations to MAPS:
“If you believe that psychedelic drugs can have incredible therapeutic potential, then I believe this is one of the highest impact projects today.”
The anonymous donor then concludes:
“I believe we, the cryptocurrency community, can fully fund Phase 3 trials. Prescription MDMA could be a gift to this world from the bitcoin community.”
FDA approval for these experimental therapies is expected by 2021, pending positive results of the Phase 3 trials.
Pineapple Fund already gave 59.89 bitcoin, with a value of $1 mln at the time of donation, to MAPS on December 14, 2017. According to the Fund’s website, so far approximately $20 mln has been donated to 23 organizations, including the Internet Archive, a NGO financing universal health care, and a philanthropic blockchain technology company.
Pineapple Fund is not the only Bitcoin-only charity: BitHope, a Bulgarian-based NGO, exclusively accepts cryptocurrency to fund crowdsourced campaigns on its site. Other Bitcoin-based charities include BitGive and CommonCollection.
The original author of this post is Molly Jane Zuckerman written for CoinTelegraph. See it here.
MORE ABOUT PTSD – HOW TO SPOT THE SYMPTOMS AND GET SCREENED
Here are some symptoms of PTSD from an earlier blog post we did recently, part of which is below:
Intrusive thoughts, emotions, or images: These may include vivid nightmares and/or flashbacks in which you feel as if the event is occurring all over again.
Avoidance and/or numbing: For instance, you may avoid people or things that remind you of your trauma, feel emotionally detached from the people around you, or block out parts of your traumatic experience.
Hyperarousal: Hyperarousal means being on red alert all the time, being jumpy or easily startled, having panic attacks, being very irritable, and/or being unable to sleep.
PTSD SCREENING TOOL ONLINE
If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from PTSD, take a simple first test with an online screening tool found here. You can print or save the results and share with your healthcare professional.
Once a Soldier is on a mission to ease or erase the financial burden of veterans’ families after a soldier suicide. 22 soldier suicides happen every day, and 14 of them, on average, are white veterans over the age of 50 suffering from PTSD. Every $30 donation gets you a free t-shirt. And 100% of that profit goes to the families.