Movement to Make PTSD an Official Cause of Death

Movement to Make PTSD an Official Cause of Death

Suicide as Cause of Death Can Change the Benefits

Veteran families of soldier suicide have all seen the death certificates that list the cause of death as suicide. It’s a heartbreaker, but it’s also causes financial issues. It’s not fair to the veteran, it’s not fair to the families and we are doing something about it.

Death records are the official documents issued by a government stating the cause, location, and time of death. Many death certificates also include personal information about the deceased.

VA DIC Claims and the Death Certificate

I found a good article written by Sandy Britt who was a Montgomery County, Tennessee, veterans service officer. My efforts to call met with a bad number listed as did the email which bounced back. Still I want to give her credit for the following: 

In some DIC claims, proving the veteran’s service-connected disability caused death or “materially and significantly” contributed to it is a simple matter. For example, if the veteran was service-connected for heart disease and diabetes and one or both of those conditions were listed as the immediate cause of death in Part I of the death certificate, DIC will be granted.

However, sometimes the service-connected disabilities are listed only in Part II of the death certificate. In that case, medical records and evidence must show that the service-connected condition listed in part II “substantially or materially” contributed to the veteran’s death.

According to VA regulation “Contributory cause of death is inherently one not related to the principal cause. In determining whether the service-connected disability contributed to death, it must be shown that it contributed substantially or materially, it combined to cause death, or that it aided or lent assistance to the production of death.”

The fact that the service-connected condition is listed in Part II is not enough to grant DIC.

As a service officer I have seen many death certificates that are not filled out adequately or even correctly, especially if the physician who completed it is not the veteran’s regular doctor and was just present at death in an emergency room, for example. For most families, what is listed on the death certificate is not really that important, but when it comes to VA DIC and service-connected burial benefits it is, and family members need to be aware of that before the death certificate is written so they can let the doctor know why a complete and accurate death certificate listing the veteran’s chronic conditions, if applicable, is necessary.

The rest of her article can be found here.

 

Important Item

What Sandy wrote in that last paragraph bears repeating: family members need to be aware of what the VA DIC and service-related benefits are before the death certificate is written so they can let the doctor know why a complete and accurate death certificate listing the veteran’s chronic conditions, if applicable, is necessary.

Top Ten Causes of Death According to the Center for Disease Control

Number of deaths for leading causes of death in 2015:

Heart disease: 635,260
Cancer: 598,038
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
Diabetes: 80,058
Influenza and Pneumonia: 51,537
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome and nephrosis: 50,046
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,965

Cedrick Taylor - Connecticut 2016 PTSD-related suicide

ABout Once a Soldier

 

Once a Soldier in on a mission to ease the financial burden of the family after a veteran suicide. Please donate to help us do more for them.

PTSD and Substance Abuse

PTSD and Substance Abuse

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.

purdue pharma substance abuse oxycontin

New American Tragedy: Where Guns Meet PTSD

New American Tragedy: Where Guns Meet PTSD

May 2018 Veteran Facility Killing is PTSD Fueled by Firearms

SPECIAL UPDATE: February 17, 2019

Please see our blog about new Ketamine treatments for PTSD and depression. There are new micro-dosing breakthrough treatments available that work fast with minimal side effects. Ketamine is used in anasthesiology and yes, in large doses, it is known as the street drug Special K. 

 

Original post:

It’s hard to see veteran suicide and be-pro gun.  Firearms are the number one method of veteran suicide. We’d love to be put out of business, and guns keep us here. It’s the law, but it’s not helping our American veterans or their families. Now news of this:

A veteran, suffering from PTSD, murdered three defenseless women – one of them 7-months pregnant – in a Yountville, California veterans facility. It could be described as a perfect storm of three wrongs making a fourth. The wrongs; PTSD, a disturbed person easily getting a hold of guns and ammo, and the culture of mass murder in America.

Sadly, this incident breaks a wall that surprises in a world where nothing can anymore. A look at the sad facts reveals that even those trying to help vets suffering from PTSD are not safe where so many guns are within arm’s reach.

The victims were identified as The Pathway Home Executive Director Christine Loeber, 48; Clinical Director Jennifer Golick, 42; and Jennifer Gonzales, 29, a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare System. A family friend told The Associated Press that Gonzales was seven months pregnant.

 

 70% of Veteran Suicides are Caused by Firearms

These three women who worked at Pathway Home, a residential program within the Yountville Veterans Home, were there to help people like the murderer, but in a sad, sick twist, found themselves victims of the same issue they were there to ease. The murderer was a veteran, having served in the Middle East. His intent was clear as he wore body armor (who needs that to go hunting or shooting?) and sported ammo rounds “hanging around his neck”, as described by an eye-witness. He was expelled from the facility days before. Why isn’t know at this time, but the irony is disturbing.

Ms. Loeber, the director of the Pathway Home, was so dedicated that she often times slept nights in her office to cover a vacant shift. Ms. Gonzalez, the pregnant victim who was heading to D.C. to celebrate her upcoming birth with family, was described as by a learned colleague as a “brilliant” talent who did amazing work with veterans with PTSD. How that assistance is gone for those by the cowardly, self-centered act of one person. Again, PTSD meets guns and it’s over.

The murderer also exposes the failings of our armed forces. He was not “the best of the best” but was an emotionally at-risk individual going in. This is the kind of recruit that our armed forces thrives on these days. With numbers shrinking all the time and millions and millions of advertising dollars needed to be spent on TV ads and NFL sponsorships, our military is bloated, sick, and getting worse.

Guns in America, PTSD, and how we treat our veterans are a highly-volatile combination that don’t have a bright future. But this blogger knows that only one of them can be legislated out of existence and over time. Only one of them was used to kill three civilians. Only one of is supported by corrupt dollars in the hands of corrupt special-interest groups and those politicians willing to sell their souls. In the end, there’s a chance that banning guns and all the military-style accessories that come with them, will give us a chance at ending PTSD and war as we know it. We need to start somewhere and we need to start now.

3 Reasons for Soldier Suicides in VA Parking Lots

3 Reasons for Soldier Suicides in VA Parking Lots

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,

UR

(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.

Bitcoin Joins the Fight Against PTSD

Bitcoin Joins the Fight Against PTSD

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.

FU PTSD

FU PTSD

VETERAN SUICIDE IS FUELED BY PTSD

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a new name for an old condition: a traumatic, life-threatening event triggers this anxiety disorder. Through the years it has taken on different names, but no matter what you call it, PTSD or “shell-shock”, it’s a horror of war that we’ve had since the beginning. All we can say is #FUPTSD.

FIND PTSD TREATMENT OPTIONS HERE

You can help a family heal the financial scar left behind by PTSD suicide. Any amount you give goes towards unpaid funeral bills.

PTSD: In Their Own Words

I began having nightmares and intrusive thoughts in addition to developing a sleep disorder, but was afraid of the stigma to seek help.  I was starting to have suicidal ideations. I had lost at least two more of my battle buddies at that point. Death seemed welcoming at that point. I wanted to end the pain I was going through. It just felt very confusing. I couldn’t concentrate and couldn’t sleep. I didn’t like that I was taking it out on my soldiers and my family.

–  Manuel “Al” Alcantara

October 2015 

 

I avoid elevators, crowds and July 4th fireworks; I’m claustrophobic from the 12 days I spent in a lightless cell at the Luftwaffe interrogation center in Germany, and I won’t fly unless I have an aisle seat. I tell them about my bombing missions with the Eighth Air Force during WWII and the day that my B-17 exploded over Berlin. How I am plagued with guilt over the loss of four of my crewmates that day. What it was like being a POW for a year and how exhilarating it was to see Patton lead his troops through the barbed wire gates of our Stalag to liberate us.

 Anon WW II vet

Photo credit to Warbirds News

Link to story by Normal Bussel

 

 

The emotional numbness…will just tear away all of the relationships in your life, you know, if you don’t learn to unlock them [and] get those emotions out.


— Sarah C. Humphries  US Army (1994–2012)

Image and text copyright of VA

I went home one evening and all of sudden, I felt a tightness in my chest, it was hard to breathe, I felt closed in and panicky. I bolted out of bed thinking I was dying. I paced the room in the dark for hours before I exhausted myself. I almost went to the ER that night, but the Soldier in me said to stick it out. 

– Chaplain (Maj.) Carlos C. Huerta

April 25, 2012 Image and text copyright VA

Memory of the improvised explosive device (IED) that had taken my leg remained fresh in my mind. It took me a while to get down from that. Especially driving on the road, anything that looked like trash or debris on the side … I had nightmares

– Dexter Pitts  Iraq 2014

 

It was almost eight years ago that I took all the sleeping pills and medication I could get, drove to a farmer’s field and laid down, hoping for the end. I didn’t understand what was going on with me and it seemed everything I was doing was hurting people around me.

 

– Corporal Joseph Rustenburg

Sometimes I think I have most of this PTSD and guilt resolved. Other times I feel nothing has changed. I’m always rehashing the past, turning things over and over in my mind. I feel like I’m under constant scrutiny. I avoid group attention.

– Anonymous Vietnam Veteran

MORE FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNTS OF WHAT PTSD FEELS LIKE

 

From The Mighty where they asked people what PTSD feels like. Here’s what they shared:

1. “It’s constantly looking over your shoulder and having difficulty trusting people… It’s not just something you can walk away from.” — Kathryn P.

2. “Triggers can come from anywhere at any time… a smell, a look/ glance, a vibe, a dream… how someone treats you. You are unable, as hard as you try, to turn it off.” — Mike T.

3. “The best description I’ve ever come across is the Walking Dead episode ‘Here’s Not Here.’ One character describes PTSD: ‘You saw it happen. That’s how this started, right? It’s all happening right in front of your eyes over and over. Your body’s here, but your mind is still there. There’s a door and you want to go through it to get away from it, so you do and it leads you right back to that moment. And you see that door again and you know it won’t work, but, hell, maybe it’ll work. So you step through that door and you’re right back in that horrible moment every time. You still feel it every time. So you just want to stop opening that door. So you just sit in it. But I assure you, one of those doors leads out, my friend.’” — Tara H.

4. “You know that feeling you get when someone jumps out and scares you and you are on high alert for a few minutes? That alertness never goes away for me.” — Holly M.

5. “It’s like you’re tidying your house before a dinner party. But there’s this one item that’s just out of place. The doorbell rings. It’s your guests. You just shove that item into the closet and tell yourself you’ll deal with it later. You start to do this every time. Filling the closest more and more. Saying to yourself that you’ll deal with it later. The closet becomes so full that it starts to creak. That’s your bodies way of saying ‘Hey! You got a lot of stuff to deal with! It’s time!’ But you keep thinking it’s fine. Out of sight, out of mind. You ignore the closet. Until one day it’s too much. The closet bursts. And everything comes flying out in weird and wacky ways. Panic attacks. Dissociative episodes. Depression. Anxiety. Flashbacks. Intrusive thoughts. And then you’re left lying on the floor with all the items that were stuffed into the closet, splattered around you. Forced to finally accept what happened. And forced to finally deal with it. Forced to clean up the items around you and find appropriate places for each thing. And then over time, slowly, you learn what to do with each item, and how to deal with each thing, uniquely.” — Nargis D.

6. “It’s like a sideshow ‘fun house;’ you never know what’s around the corner to screw up your day. Then you walk over to the house of mirrors and realize no matter which one you look at, it will never be who you truly are.” — Tash G.

7. “My nightmares when I’m asleep bleed into my daily life. At times after just getting up I’m unable to differentiate whether I’m awake or asleep. They feel so real, I even experience the physical pain in them. Then while I am at home if someone knocks on my door I could scream and start rocking back and forth.” — Will D.

8. “It’s difficult to explain. Sometimes it’s the feeling that something bad is right behind you. Every car door that shuts at night is something bad. It’s being afraid to go to sleep because you know the nightmares are waiting. No one can be trusted. I constantly feel like someone is behind me. It’s being so hyper-vigilant every minute, it’s exhausting. Certain places or a flash of something brings it all crashing back down on you. It’s feeling like every day you’re going to die, and sometimes wishing for death just to get away from the memories.” — Jennifer T.

9. “You’re constantly on guard. You can never rest without thinking about something. I get panicked at the slightest thing that wouldn’t bother anyone like loud bangs or someone’s footsteps, or someone calling my name and I don’t know where it’s coming from.” — Ross R.

10. “It’s like being trapped in a time capsule. Your surroundings change, but you’re forever in the state of your trauma — flashes of memories through all five senses, body memories, nightmares — it consumes your entire being and never by choice!” — Corey L.

11. “Imagine walking down the yellow stripe in the middle of a crowded street: it’s happy and sunny and everyone is doing everything great — but if you lose your balance or get pushed to the left side, it’s dark and scary. Few people know the left side.” — Brynn L.

12. “PTSD is a bunch of nightmares during the day. I lose grips on where I am, and I get lost in the memory. It’s like I’m not even where I actually am. It feels so real, and next thing I wake up and do not know how I got to where I am now.” — Nicole V.

13. “It’s like when you watch a scary movie and you’re on edge the entire time… except that’s how you live, all day, every day. You’re literally afraid of everything.” — Kate M.

14. “It’s like living in a slideshow instead of a video. Everything is choppy and confusing. There’s doubt, chaos and terror night and day.” — Adele E.

15. “I always compare it to the episode of ‘Spongebob’ when he was trying to remember his name and inside of his head people were looking through all the filing cabinets, but couldn’t find it so they started burning everything up and completely destroyed the memory bank… it’s like certain things trigger an episode whether it’s a smell or even a certain color. It causes me to panic.” — Shonte R.

They’re all sad and painful, but I have to say that #15 really sends it home for me. Here’s more from that same page:

16. “It’s like being hit by a car and you never see the car coming! It knocks you down, and when you try to get up another car hits you again.” — Minister W.

17. “It’s like a rubber band in that you can stretch so far out of your comfort zone, but once you’ve been triggered you fly back right to where you started.” — Rachel M.

18. “It’s like being afraid of the monster under your bed that no one else really believes is there. It can creep up on u at any moment, and the smallest of things can trigger it.” — Destiny B.

19. “Having PTSD for me is like being set apart from everyone else, finding fault with everyone you meet and walking a constant tightrope between fight or flight. The overwhelming feeling of guilt is hard to live with, and no one can convince you otherwise. It’s truly terrible. But there is always hope and always a light that never goes out so hang on in there.” — Jon A.