Once a Soldier Advocates to Rep. Rutherford’s Office
Open-Minded & Ready to Help
Once a Soldier advocates on behalf of veteran families touched by veteran suicide. We believe that PTSD is the reason most of our families are faced with the ongoing pain and suffering of vetearn suicide. We see it as a part of our mission to do all we can to make their voices heard.
We recently met with Chris Miller, the District Director for U.S. House of Representative John Rutherford. Mr. Rutherford recently re-introduced the PAWS bill to the House.
For more on the PAWS bill, check this blog post.
Chris Miller is ex-military and his tall, slender frame and greying on the sides hair make him the perfect Aide right out of Central Casting. We met at their modest offices in Jacksonville’s mid-town – definitely more functional than flashy. Part of the reason that Once a Soldier was able to get in front of Congressman Rutherford was that his receptionist’s family had suffered from veteran suicide.
We talked about the pain points that families of veteran suicide face:
- Loss of Insurance Policy
- Funeral Home Policy
- PTSD Therapies that Show Promise
Mr. Miller was most interested in the first point that we made. With so many insurance company lobbyists in Washington, D.C., he was courageous indeed to bring the matter up with his Legislative Directors. Our goal was to move the needle on this point: allow a veteran diagnosed with PTSD who has killed himself an exemption from being the insurance being disallowed from the suicide clause. Perhaps not the full amount, but a minimum of $20,000 to cover the funeral expenses.
With the PAWS Act being freshly re-introduced by his office not too long ago, we felt that asking him to take on another Veteran-centric bill would be too much too fast. We have since revisited that idea with an request to consider a bill that fast-tracks pharma and non-parma PTSD therapies.
Next, the realities of the funeral home practices, where payment is traditionally secured by life insurance of the departed, were a surprise to the office. We were happy to get agreement that something could be done to make this a win-win-win for the insurance companies, the funeral business and our families. We are working on that solution as we speak.
Finally, our in-depth and front line access to a local PTSD therapy clinic helped us plead the case for continuing on to push through after the Spravato breakthough. This newly FDA-approved PTSD therapy is a nasal spray that failed to prove itself in the testing phase, but is now being pushed out to VA medical centers. Expensive and cumbersome, this therapy was a good start, but not the future of PTSD therapy.
We were invited to continue the conversation and we are. Thank you to Chris Miller for his attention and sincerity during and after our visit.
As Sheriff Rutherford Of Jacksonville, He Focused on Mental Health Issues
Rutherford, who was director of the jail before being elected sheriff in 2003, is credited with improvements in its ability to address mental health issues. Since he became sheriff, a re-entry program to assist released state prisoners back into society has been established.
In partnership with the city and in the community, programs to ward off criminal activity with prevention and intervention were expanded.
Using tactics such as old-fashioned “knock and talks,” officers stepped onto tens of thousands of doorsteps to meet residents in high-crime neighborhoods.
ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER
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.