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.


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.

Oh The Irony! The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act Is Broken – Full Texts of PACT 1 and PACT 2

Oh The Irony! The Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act Is Broken – Full Texts of PACT 1 and PACT 2

Full Versions PACT Act 1 & 2

August 5, 2022 
Updated on August 5, 2022 at 8:12 AM EDT

“Burn Pit” Bill passed on an 86-11 vote on August 2, 2022.

Original Post:
Here is the original Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/3967/text

Revised Promise To Address Comprehensive Toxins (PACT) version full text: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3373/text

If you’ve never read a Congressional bill before, they are massively detailed documents. See the final version of the vote for yourself for what is officially called the Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our PACT (Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics) Act.

Republican Senators voted NO to help save the lives of our Veterans exposed to deadly toxins created by burn pit exposure. We have a post on why they did that here. This is a bill sponsored by Kansas Republican Senator Moran, the same Senator who co-authored the SSG Fox Veteran Suicide bill that passed in 2019.

When you compare the two document, the only change made relates to a tax status for the hundreds of private practice health care providers who would have cared for the Vets. Here’s the difference:

 “(e) NOT A TAXABLE BENEFIT.—A contract buy out for a covered health care professional under subsection (a) shall not be considered a taxable benefit or event for the covered health care professional.” 

That’s it! This was a tax exemption clarification that only affects the many private practice facilities that are required to render care to the huge number of Vets in need. Wait. Perhaps the tax breaks are what the Republicans’ flip-flopped on, but talking points in the days after centered around a $400 billion number. It was not pork. That is the price tag for the PACT. That money is hard-coded to pay for the program, period.

Of course, the human tragedy Veterans and their families face goes on in the meantime. As a nation, we need a discussion centered about Veterans. Once A Soldier is preparing to advocate for a Veterans Administration Czar who can rebuild that mess.

What Is a Burn Pit?

A burn pit is an area devoted to 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.

Where Are Psilocybins Legal To Treat PTSD?

Where Are Psilocybins Legal To Treat PTSD?

Veteran Families Can Find Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy

Our mission is clearly on the side of postvention and to be there ASAP for the family left behind after a suicide. Many times they have witnessed the Veteran suicide or heard it. We urge families to research this micro-dosing information as an option to heal their Veterans as well as themselves.

Once A Soldier does not endorse any listed facilities but presents them as a resource for further investigation. A Google search with the terms “psychedelic treatment centers near me” will also provide similar results.

Find a Psycheledic Center Near You

Despite the huge therapeutic potential, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is not part of standard medical care yet. Self-medicating with psychedelics can produce undesired results, but despite that, more and more people feel disappointed with the efficacy of the current treatments and they turn to risky, but potentially more beneficial psychedelic-assisted therapy. Source

Just updated: this site will connect you a national listing of pyschotherapists with a vareity of educational backgrounds, specialties and locations.

Like our Veterans Suicide Rates by State, this ever-growing resource is a big part o four mission. Education after a Veteran suicide can help ease the scars for the family. We are proud to be that resource for them but want to reach more and more families. This is a new resource for Once A Soldier, and we will do our best to add more centers that fit our mission parameters when we can. Please check back often for updates.


Despite Arizona’s strict drug laws and conservative political climate, the psilocybin decriminalization movement is gaining traction within the state’s borders. In both Tempe and Tucson, there are two major organizations fighting to decriminalize psychedelics.

Psychedelic Club of Phoenix

Arizona Psychedelics

Modern Spirit


For several years, California has been at the forefront of psychedelic policy reform. In 2019, Oakland became the first city in the country to decriminalize a wide variety of psychedelics, including psilocybin mushrooms and ayahuasca. “It’s time to take a health and science-oriented approach to drugs & step away from knee-jerk criminalization,” State Senator Scott Wiener tweeted on November 15, 2020. Psychedelics have medicinal value and should not be prohibited. As a result, when the Legislature reconvenes, we’ll try to make their use legal.”

Center of psychedelic studies and research

Psychedelic Therapy Center

Pacific Brain Health Center


With this psilocybin vote, Denver is breaking new ground. Colorado and the Mile High City are poised to anchor an ongoing psychedelic revival, where once-maligned psychoactive substances are being championed as therapeutic treatments for illnesses including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, thanks to voter-approved legislation forcing police to relax enforcement of laws around psilocybin mushrooms.

Innate Path

Medicinal Mindfulness

Kathy Hawkins Counseling

Prati Group


Enduring Love Therapy

New York

Despite the huge therapeutic potential, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is not part of standard medical care yet. Self-medicating with psychedelics can produce undesired results, but despite that, more and more people feel disappointed with the efficacy of the current treatments and they turn to risky, but potentially more beneficial psychedelic-assisted therapy. The goal of this guide is harm reduction for people, who decided to self-medicate, we don’t encourage possession or consumption of illicit substances even for therapeutic endeavors.

Field Trip Health

Psychedelic society of western NY

New York city psychedelic society

Center for Optimal Living




In the state of Georiga, the future of psilocybin does not appear bright. In addition to a series of rigorous laws banning the selling and possession of “magic mushrooms,” the state is one of the few in the world to recognize psilocybin mushroom spores as controlled substances in their own right.

Emory University (Atlanta) researchers are looking into using psychedelic drugs as a possible treatment for major depressive disorder.



In the state of Illinois, psilocybin is highly illegal. Though Chicago officials have suggested and contemplated decriminalization within the city limits, these efforts have failed. Psilocybin is currently classified as a Schedule I controlled drug in both Chicago and the rest of Illinois.

Safer Illinois

Psychedelic safety support and integration in Chicago

Psychelics Are Also Know As

Psychedelics, also known as psychedelic drugs, hallucinogens, or hallucinogenic drugs are chemical substances that induce hallucinations and other sensory disturbances.

Psychedelic – relating to or denoting drugs that produce hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness. Psychedelics were originally called ‘Psychotomimetics’ by the scientific community (mimicking the effect of a psychotic state). In 1956, Humphry Osmond coined the term Psychedelic (‘Mind Manifesting’ in Greek) in a letter to writer Aldous Huxley.

Entheogen – a psychoactive substance that induces alterations in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, or behaviofor the purposes of engendering spiritual development in sacred contexts.

Psilocybin – a naturally occurring psychedelic prodrug compound produced by more than 200 species of mushrooms, collectively known as psilocybin mushrooms.

DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine) – a chemical substance that occurs in many plants and animals and which is both a derivative and a structural analog of tryptamine.[3] It can be consumed as a psychedelic drug and has historically been prepared by various cultures for ritual purposes as an entheogen. DMT has a rapid onset, intense effects, and a relatively short duration of action.

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide) – also known colloquially as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug.Effects typically include altered thoughts, feelings, and awareness of one’s surroundings.


    About Once a Soldier

    Once a Soldier’s mission is to help the families after a soldier suicide. Most soldier suicides are performed by veterans who have lost touch with the VA and their families won’t be getting any financial help from the government at this critical time. Even when they do, the support is limited. We aspire to fill or close that gap especially when it comes to the heartbreak of paying funeral costs. But this post aspires to be a place where someone in need RIGHT NOW can get some help for themselves or for a loved one who’s thinking about suicide.

    Once A Soldier Funds First Ketamine-IV Drip Therapy

    Once A Soldier Funds First Ketamine-IV Drip Therapy

     Finally, Effective Treatment for Suicidal Veterans & Their Families 

    How long do PTSD Veterans and their families have to wait for psilocybin treatment to get going? While Congress idles with no answers, some Vets are going out of the country for this treatment. We can do better here at home and we are. Our answer to how long is “no longer.” Help is needed now as more and more Veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate above the civilian average.

    Putting our money where our hearts are, Once A Soldier is defraying the costs of a full six sessions of Ketamine IV drip treatments. James Simpson and his wife Jennifer are both combat Veterans. It is our intent for James to defeat his PTSD with this grant. We know he will.


    ketamin iv drip

    Ketamine Clinics Are Already Functional Around the Nation

    The initial call from James’ wife Jennifer spurred Once A Soldier to monetize their prevention efforts with this first-ever grant. Treatment will be at the Virginia Beach Ketamine and Wellness starting in February 2022. Private, out-of-pocket clinics like this are all over the country, and we have partnered with two here in Jacksonville during our service time. We wish the Simpson family the best and will update James’ progress in this blog.

    Once A Soldier has always been a resource for Veteran suicide prevention and information. Our mission started as – and still is – postvention, but we have grown to offer prevention help for both Veteran and family, pre and postvention. Note our scholarships for Equine-Assisted Therapy for Veterans and their families here in north Florida, as well as our Transcendental Meditation scholarships which has been granted around the country now that COVID-19 has changed. Despite the apparent dichotomy, we have also championed other free and drug-free mental health treatments.

    We are first, but we are not alone.

    Back in 2021, a collection of the largest Veteran service organizations implored Congress to fast track the journey towards adding psilocybin to prevent Veteran suicide. Across America, renowned institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Stanford University run psychedelic research centers and medical groups. They see the future. With 20 Veteran suicides a day, and the reason they suicide, something advanced needs to be considered. And they are. Meanwhile, Once A Soldier has grant a modest amount to enable That is a big ask as some psilocybins currently sit in Category 1 with heroin. Ketamine is considered a Schedule 3 because it is so hard to make. However, r

    There are US Veterans leaving the country to seek this type of medical treatment. Surely, we can find our way faster for their sake.

    Virginia Beach Ketamine and Wellness owners

    James Stephen Oleksa, MD Anesthesiology,Medical Director and Sentara Princess Anne Hospital, Virginia Beach, VA.

    Virginia Beach Ketamine and Wellness owners

    Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Carolanne Garofalo and Tricia Lee are co-owners at Virginia Beach Ketamine and Wellness.


    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.

    Cremation Process and Remains Transportation

    Cremation Process and Remains Transportation

     Cremation Information

    The cremation process and legal requirements for it vary state by state and city by city. Please check your local legal requirements to ensure the safe processing of your loved one.

    There are different parts to the cremation process including transportation, storage, cremation itself, and the return of the remains. You have an opportunity to have a viewing prior to the cremation process, as well. You may also be able to witness the cremation.

    To start, the body will be taken to the funeral home or straight to the crematory. Before the cremation occurs, the body will be stored and secured in cold storage.

    Next up for the cremation process, you must select a container or casket in which to cremate your loved one.  Their body will be placed in the container and brought to the crematory.

    Before the cremation, personal items (jewelry, watches, etc.) are removed from the container/casket and returned to you/the family. For safety reasons, many items are not allowed to be cremated with the body because not everything is combustible. These items could cause damage to the crematory or the operator.

    urn for ashes

    How Long Does It Take To Cremate a Body?

    The cremation process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to more than two hours depending on the size of the body and how much heat has been stored in the cremator’s chamber. The cremation process occurs at 1600 degrees F. Once the cremation process is complete, the cremated remains are swept out of the cremator into a cooling tray and brought to a processor. The processor breaks down the bone fragments until they are 1/8” or smaller in size. The cremated remains are put into a plastic bag and placed into an urn or temporary container. Throughout this entire process, your loved one’s identification is checked numerous times. The cremated remains are placed with paperwork and stored until the family, comes to retrieve them.

    Adult cremated remains weigh between four and six pounds.

    Remains Transporting

    If you plan to transport cremated remains, you may need different documents (death certificate, certificate of cremation, etc.) and the help of a funeral director to make this process possible.

    If shipping cremated remains by United States Postal Service (USPS), you must use Priority Mail Express service and Priority Express Mail International.  USPS’ Label 139 indicating “Cremated Remains” is not required but it is encouraged to help USPS workers know this package should be handled with care.

    Most airlines allow the transportation of cremated remains either as a carry-on, checked luggage or air cargo. Check with the airlines to learn their rules about transporting cremated remains; some airlines need notice if something needs to be placed in the air cargo. You must carry the death certificate, certificate of cremation and other documentation with you.

    If transporting the cremated remains internationally, you will have to contact the Consulate(s) of the country you are taking the remains to or from. You will find the forms and authorizations required. Your funeral director will likely have to complete many of the forms. This process can take a few weeks.


    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.