Why We Will Never Stop Soldier Suicide

Why We Will Never Stop Soldier Suicide

Suicide Will Always Be With Us

If you look at suicide statistics in America, you’ll see that the annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals. Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women. On average, there are 132 suicides per day. The daily average for Veteran suicide is 16 per day. That’s over 10% of all suicides in America. Not to understand the problem, but something’s going on with our troops who turn into Veterans.

Three reasons why we won’t stop Veteran suicide:

WE ARE WASTING TIME AND MONEY

First off: stop thinking that dogs, horses, rucks, comraderie will change the rate. They don’t. Veterans do get temporary help with them, but they do nothing to stop the root cause: PTSD

With four years under our belts, the rates are rising, not falling. Why? Vets are coming home with PTSD.

WE SUPPORT THE WRONG CAUSES

Second, stop supporting nonprofit charities that don’t have solid data to show that what they do stops Veteran suicide. Most don’t. America’s donations to Veterans organizations is second only to children’s nonprofits. Our heads need to get in front of our hearts.

CONGRESS AND THE VA ARE TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

Third, stop trying to pass bills that support feel good suicide prevention methods. All this does is promote nonprofits designed to get grant money. Our Congressman, John Rutherford, has reintroduced a bill that sums up all three issues: dogs as PTSD medicine which doesn’t work, nonprofits that don’t have data to show how they save lives and stop Veteran suicide. Dogs make cuddly headlines and they do stop that one suicide attempt. but more are coming.

Finally, until there is peace all over the world and there are no more wars, we will always have soldiers going into battle. They will bring home with them PTSD and they will continue to kill themselves unless we learn to how to defeat PTSD.

 

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.

 

Rutherford Reintroduces PAWS Act

Rutherford Reintroduces PAWS Act

Congress Out of Ideas To Deal With PTSD and Veteran Suicide

On the heels of the 2020 Moran Act appropriating funds anew for PTSD veteran services organizations, Congressman John Rutherford (R-FL-04) announced the reintroduction of H.R. 1022, the Puppies Assisting Wounded Servicemembers (PAWS) Act of 2021, which will increase access to Service Dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Rutherford’s PAWS Act, previously killed because there is not evidence from the VA research that shows they stop PTSD, establishes a competitive grant program through the Department of Veterans Affairs for organizations to pair service dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. Instead of dealing with the harsher reality of postvention and the causes of PTSD, Rutherford and Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH-01), Michael Waltz (R-FL-06), Al Lawson (D-FL-05), and Steve Stivers (R-OH-15) continue to push forward feel-good legislation with strictly limited success and reach. Our Veterans and their families living and dying with PTSD deserve greater vision and action from Washington.

soldier rests

Service dogs skirt the real problems with PTSD - rising Veterans suicide rates.

Service Dogs Are Cute and Expensive

The average cost to breed, train, house, feed and transfer a PTSD service dog runs between $20,000 to $60,000. The veteran who will receive the dog also needs to be screened for a match and then trained once he is “given” his service dog. Once they become an owner, they have to budget for the annual costs that any dog owner must expect. 

Once A Soldier’s stand remains the same as it was in the past. Hearing veteran suicide stories from the survivors motivates us to say that anything stopping a Veteran from throwing his family into the downward spiral after a suicide is great. More of it at any cost. We can afford wars and companies profit from it, so we can afford whatever it takes for Veterans. However, reintroducing the PAWS Act falls into the category of lazy legislation. We wish it a speedy journey from bill into law, but don’t support it. Prevention is not working with the weapons  we have now. More of the same if not enough. 

Congressional Bills Don’t Speed Up Waiting Lists

And while we’d like to see a new postvention bill versus another one of hundreds introduced for prevention, Veterans have been waiting long enough. Veterans wait for years to get a service dog from those places that will benefit most from PAWS such as K9s for Warriors, Pawsitivity, Retrieving Freedom

Postvention needs to get the same attention and funding as prevention. That said, we also feel that with all the support and preventative services for veterans, there is a complete lack of reality when we talk about the 20 or so veteran suicides that happen every day.

The fact is that there aren’t enough service dogs available. Not only is the cost too high and their effectiveness of PTSD is poor at best. Dogs can stop a veteran suicide as they are sometimes the ony thing between the gun and the vet’s mouth. They are a band-aid approach that makes Congress feel good that they’re doing something for the same men and women they throw into hostile, PTSD-inducing environments.

As recent as 2019, with the backing of Laura Trump, the PAWS Act got fresh life breathed into it, but it faced stiff resistance from V.A. officials who said the bill could “result in unintended and negative consequences” for veterans entrusting their well-being to “this unsubstantiated treatment regime.” From that time, the VA only paid for 19 service dogs. The VA falls short on many agenda items, but even they can’t miss the truth on this sad fact: service dogs pay off best for the nonprofits that train them.

https://onceasoldier.org/tag/therapy-dogs/

Sources:

https://rutherford.house.gov/media/press-releases/rutherford-pappas-waltz-lawson-stivers-reintroduce-paws-act

https://www.bankrate.com/loans/personal-loans/how-to-afford-a-service-dog/

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.