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.

Conclusion

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.

2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report

2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report

The VA has released the latest update on the state of Veteran suicide in America. You can find it here. There is good news in the new report to show that the recent efforts from a variety of organizations are paying off. Several hopeful data points from this year’s report serve as anchors:

• 399 fewer Veterans died from suicide in 2019 than in 2018, reflecting the lowest raw count of Veteran suicides since 2007.

• From 2005 to 2018, identified Veteran suicides increased on average by 48 deaths each year. A reduction of 399 suicides within one year is unprecedented, dating back to 2001.

• The single-year decrease in the adjusted suicide rate for Veterans from 2018 to 2019 (7%) was larger than any observed for Veterans from 2001 through 2018. Further, the Veteran rate of decrease (7.2%) exceeded by four
times the non-Veteran population decrease (1.8%) from 2018 to 2019.

• There was a nearly 13% one-year rate (unadjusted rate) decrease for female Veterans, which represents the largest rate decrease for Women Veterans in 17 years.

• COVID-19-related data continues to emerge and clarify, but data thus far do not indicate an increase in Veteran suicide-related behaviors.

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.

What Is The Mission Daybreak Contest?

What Is The Mission Daybreak Contest?

Mission Daybreak is a contest that is open to the public and it is an attempt to get great new ideas in how to stop the national crisis that is Veteran suicide. Mission Daybreak is part of VA’s 10-year strategy to end Veteran suicide through a comprehensive, public health approach. There is $20 million worth of prize money handed out with nothing really coming back in return. A $20 million grand challenge to reduce Veteran suicides. It is the brainchild of The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Mission Daybreak is fostering solutions across a broad spectrum of focus areas. A diversity of solutions will only be possible if a diversity of solvers — including Veterans, researchers, technologists, advocates, clinicians, health innovators, and service members — answer the call to collaborate and share their expertise.

The contest really has no clear goal or deliverable, other than handing out money to winning ideas and then handing out more money for those ideas to be developed. As we said in another post found here, all of them are big money wasters and they do what the VA does best: mess up Veterans. As you can see on the link, they all only help to identify at-risk Veterans. Nothing is done to solve the problem. The only positive we see from the Mission Daybreak contest is that at least the just as useless but more cuddly service dogs did not receive any useless money. 

 

Here’s More On Mission Daybreak Contest

Mission Daybreak contest’s Phase 1 awarded $8.5 million: 30 finalists each received $250,000 and advance to the Phase 2 accelerator, where they will gain exclusive access to tailored resources. An additional 10 teams each received a Promise Award of $100,000.

Mission Daybreak contest’s Phase 2 will award $11.5 million: Two first-place winners will each receive $3 million, three second-place winners will each receive $1 million, and five third-place winners will each receive $500,000.

Mission Daybreak is a two-phase grand contest. Phase 1 was open to all eligible solvers — including Veterans, researchers, technologists, advocates, clinicians, health innovators, and service members — to submit detailed concepts. The winners were all bad ideas that do nothing to address the root cause of Veteran suicide which is 

Mission Daybreak Contest Phase 1 criteria

Veteran-centered design
Extent to which the concept reflects the true lived experience of Veterans and clearly articulates the population it is intended to serve. Extent to which the concept promotes equity by designing for the unique circumstances of a specific population.

Impact
Extent to which the concept outlines where it will operate and how it will sustainably reduce Veteran suicides.

Innovation
Extent to which the concept demonstrates a level of advancement beyond established scientific methods, technology, and current practices. Extent to which the concept represents a range of cross-disciplinary expertise.

Evidence-based
Extent to which the concept is grounded in evidence-based or evidence-informed research and incorporates further evidence development in future plans.

Scalability
Extent to which the concept is able to complement, build off of, or integrate into existing VA systems and can sustainably grow to make a significant impact on the Veteran population.

Ethical approach
Extent to which the concept takes into account any ethical considerations applicable to its approach, including ethical data collection practices, safe messaging practices, and privacy concerns.

 

 

Mission Daybreak Contest Phase 2 criteria

Veteran-centered design
Extent to which the solution will be accessible to the Veteran population it is intended to serve.

Impact
Extent to which the refined solution has the potential to significantly reduce suicides for its intended Veteran population.

Innovation
Extent to which the solution demonstrates a level of advancement beyond initial submission, established scientific methods, existing technologies, and current practices, and effectively uses challenge resources or feedback.

Development
Extent to which the refined solution’s timeline and development plan are thoroughly detailed, feasible, and actionable.

Scalability
Extent to which the solution’s testing and development plan complements, builds off of, or integrates into existing VA systems and can sustainably grow to impact the solution’s intended Veteran population.

Ethical approach
Extent to which the solution takes into account any additional ethical considerations raised in Phase 1.

 

 

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.

What Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

What Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

Veterans Give KAP Rave Reviews

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) uses microdosing (very small amounts) of the ketamine to allow the patient to have disassociative experience. It is during this disassociative experience, also known as microdosing to trip out, that the erasing magic of KAP happens. The medicine is delivered in a clinic setting by a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). The CRNA is the assisted part of KAP. They will be your guide and contact during the treatment. They administer the medicine via an IV-drip. The session lasts about 45 minutes with time on either end to prepare and recover. You will need a ride home just like any other medical procedure that uses this type of medicine. Our nationwide reach has shown that 6 session are required by the hundreds of KAP clinics found across the country. Three follow-up treatments happen over the following 1-6 months depending on the individual. You and your CRNA, who is with you all the time, will decide what’s best for you.

We are currently taking application for fully-covered treatment for Veterans or their family members.

KAP Is A Veteran Suicide Ass-Kicker

OAS advocates for the adoption of KAP at every VA, who needs to accelerate this and other psychedelic drugs to deal with the crisis that is 17 Veteran suicides a day. I have spoken to numerous Veterans with haunting memories from their service of one kind or another. All were at the end of their ropes and all found KAP to turn around and save their lives. The same can be said for their families who had to endure their PTSD, depression and anxiety without a way to help or help protect themselves from getting “infected” by their loved ones’ afflictions.

For Once A Soldier, 17 Veteran suicides a day means 17 families thrown into financial and emotional chaos.

What About The Cost?

Let’s first talk about the cost of ketamine. It is cheap. Super-cheap. It has been off-patent for many years now, and this benefit is not being leveraged by the VA. See below about how cheap it can be. Sadly, for now, it is out of the reach of most Veterans who are suicidal. From speaking to a variety of Vets and family across the country, we’ve seen prices for an individual session range from $120-$360. You won’t find it cheaper, and our experience shows that the middle or upper end of this range is what you can expect. Higher prices tend to be found in places like NYC and LA and the more affluent suburbs and towns across America. So the cost of ketamine is reasonable; what costs are the CRNAs – worth every penny – and the facility. For six sessions plus three follow-ups, you’re looking at anywhere between $1,080 to $3,240. Also, expect to pay for on-going visits just to keep the demons at bay.

As we noted in July of 2019 when SPRAVATO® nasal spray was approved by the FDA for VA use (highly-expensive), we thought that is was more about politics and money-grabbling than real care for our Veterans. The FDA tests were near complete failures and the drug itself if literally only half as good, if at all, because it is literally only half of the ketamine molecule. Since ketamine of off-patent, Johnson & Johnson had to invent a new one to patent. Read more about that here.

Hmm, where can we find a way to cut costs on the facility and the CRNAs?

The Veterans Health Administration is America’s largest integrated health care system, providing care at 1,298 health care facilities, including 171 medical centers and 1,113 outpatient sites of care of varying complexity (VHA outpatient clinics), serving 9 million enrolled Veterans each year. Source

There are over 1,100 Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) serve in the Veterans Health Administration. Source

The VA should start a KAP program to fight Veteran suicide today. Sadly, there are lobbyists from all sides of the medical and pharmaceutical industry that don’t’ want that to happen in a manner that is best for our Veterans. This is frustrating for all, and the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology sums up their position here.

The battleground for attaining the lucrative VA services is a battleground with unexpected combatants. A struggle between the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is ongoing as the two battle over a bill that would limit the ability of CRNAs to practice in VA system hospitals.

Historically, VA hospitals have only allowed physician anesthesiologists to treat patients, but during COVID, with staff limited and patient needs high, restrictions were relaxed. In April 2020 they allowed CRNAs to practice independently in some VA hospitals to alleviate the burden. Now that the pandemic caseloads are lowering, the American Society of Anesthesiologists has introduced a bill to once again restrict the practice authority of CRNAs in VA hospitals. Source

No matter the outcome of these issues in the future, the hear and now doesn’t care. Today, as you read this, 17 Veterans will take their service revolver or Glock, find a place at home or in their cars or at the VA, and blow their brains out. Those same tortured brains are now spread out over the family living room sofa, or the seat of the truck, or a lonely bedroom somewhere that became a fortress against the demons of PTSD, depression, and sadness. Let’s go people.

 

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.

How To Register For Your Burn Pit VA Benefits

How To Register For Your Burn Pit VA Benefits

Follow These Three Steps To Get Your Burn Pit Benefits

If you’re a Veteran or survivor, you can file claims now to apply for PACT Act-related benefits through the burn pit registration process. Having called the VA on this, their operators are still waiting on more details on how to process your claim, but you should start the burn pit registration process now. Before you file a burn pit claim, you have to register on the Burn Pit registry, then file a claim, and you then have the option to register with the VA. Veterans that receive a 50% or higher disability rating are automatically registered with the VA.

You can access the Burn Pit application here.

File a claim here.

You can register with the VA here. NOTE: This is not required and you do not have to have been exposed to specific airborne hazards or have related health concerns to participate in the registry.

You can learn more about the PACT Act at VA.gov/PACT or by calling 1-800-MyVA411

Note: you do not have to register with the VA to open a Burn Pit PACT Act claim. Nor do you have to have the previously required 60% disability rating. The PACT Act now classifies Burn Pit claims as presumptive meaning you no longer need to get medical approval to prove it was service related.

You are eligible to participate in the registry if you were deployed to the Southwest Asia theater of operations or Egypt any time after August 2, 1990 or Afghanistan, Djibouti, Syria, or Uzbekistan on or after September 11, 2001.

Regions and countries include Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Djibouti, Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Oman, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, waters of the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea, Syria, Uzbekistan, and Egypt.

Operations and campaigns include Desert Shield and Desert Storm (ODS/S), Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Enduring Freedom (OEF), and New Dawn (OND).

You do not have to have been exposed to specific airborne hazards or related health concerns to participate in the registry.

The PACT Act Defined: What It All Means

The PACT Act is perhaps the largest health care and benefits expansion in VA history. The full name of the law is The Sergeant First Class (SFC) Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act.

The PACT Act will bring these changes:

  • Expands and extends eligibility for VA health care for Veterans with toxic exposures and Veterans of the Vietnam, Gulf War, and post-9/11 eras
  • Adds more than 20 new presumptive conditions for burn pits and other toxic exposures
  • Adds more presumptive-exposure locations for Agent Orange and radiation
  • Requires VA to provide a toxic exposure screening to every Veteran enrolled in VA health care
  • Helps us improve research, staff education, and treatment related to toxic exposures

What Is a Burn Pit?

A burn pit is an area devoted to the open-air combustion of trash. The use of burn pits was a common waste disposal practice at military sites outside the United States, such as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Smoke from these pits contained substances that may have short- and long-term health effects, especially for those who were exposed for long periods or those more
prone to illness such as individuals with pre-existing asthma or other lung or heart conditions.

Waste products in burn pits include, but are not limited to: chemicals, paint, medical and human waste, metal/aluminum cans, munitions, and other unexploded ordnance, petroleum and lubricant products, plastics and Styrofoam, rubber, wood, and discarded food. Burning waste in pits can create more hazards compared to controlled high-temperature burning—like in a commercial incinerator.

The VA fact sheet on burn pits says veteran burn pit exposures to high levels of specific, individual chemicals that may be present in burn pit smoke have been shown to cause long-term effects, in some cases, on: skin, respiratory system, eyes, liver, kidneys, central nervous system, reproductive system, cardiovascular system, peripheral nervous system, and gastrointestinal tract.

The IOM study  – supplied by this group – found these health effects associated with five or more chemicals it detected at Joint Base Balad in Iraq:

  • Neurologic effects and reduced central nervous system function
  • Liver toxicity and reduced liver function
  • Cancer (stomach, respiratory, and skin cancer; leukemia; and others)
  • Respiratory toxicity and morbidity
  • Kidney toxicity and reduced kidney function
  • Blood effects (anemia and changes in various cell types)
  • Cardiovascular toxicity and morbidity, and
  • Reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Here’s the roll call vote from yesterday. The one Democrat NO vote was cast by House Leader Chuck Schumer. The reason for that was so that he could recall the vote for a later day if something exactly like this happened.

About Once A Soldier: Starting in 2017, our mission is to limit the scars of Veteran suicide. We offer prevention services and postvention services. We reach a national audience and our goal is to become the preferred channel for those who want to help Veteran families who need our services. With 17 Veteran suicides a day in 2021, we believe our two niche services will make a difference to each family and to our nation.