2021 VA Veteran Suicide Report

2021 VA Veteran Suicide Report

22/Day Down To 17/Day – Lower Suicide Rate From 2017 Spike

The VA recently released the 2021 Veteran Suicide statistics. The good news is that the suicide rate is down from the all-time high in 2017. Civilian suicide rates also fell at that time. From our point of view, this is great news, but we can’t help but shake our heads at the postvention needs of both the Veteran and the family are not more fully addressed. Read the full report here.

Here is the opening excerpt:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ 2021 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report shows the overall
Veteran suicide count and rate decreased in 2019 from 2018 and from 2017.

The data within the report is notable because:

• It provides information from 2001 through 2019, while recent prior reports included data from 2005 forward.
• This update includes the most current data and applies methodologic enhancements, resulting in the most
comprehensive assessment to date of Veteran suicide mortality, for the years 2001-2019.2

There were 6,261 Veteran suicide deaths in 2019. Down from years before, but overall they are still rising from the 5,989 in 2001 when the VA started collecting data.

The report represents and communicates a “whole of VA” approach to suicide prevention that integrates strategic
planning, program operations, and program evaluation across the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans
Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration. The report represents and communicates
a “whole of government” approach to suicide prevention that integrates strategic planning across federal agencies to
facilitate complementary and collaborative prevention, intervention, and postvention approaches tailored to agencyspecific populations. The report represents and communicates the value of “public/private partnerships” to reinforce and
magnify collective and unified engagement of suicide prevention.

Given this background, this report includes the following updated information and data:

• There were 399 fewer Veteran suicides in 2019 than in 2018.
• There was a 7.2% overall decrease in the age- and sex-adjusted Veteran suicide mortality rate in 2019, as compared
to 2018.
• The unadjusted suicide rate for male Veterans decreased 3.6% in 2019 from 2018 while the unadjusted suicide rate
for female Veterans decreased 12.8% in 2019 from 2018.

Decreases in Veteran suicide across multiple fronts and methods of measurement in 2019 were unprecedented across the
last 20 years.

End of excerpt.

 

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.

OAS Endorses Fast-Track Psilocybin Research

OAS Endorses Fast-Track Psilocybin Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 25, 2021 – Ponte Vedra, Florida

Once A Soldier Endorses a Warp Speed Option for Psilocybin Research To Save Veteran Lives

Psilocybin drugs are the rising starts when it comes to killing PTSD in post-9/11 Veterans

In recent days, we have modified our website to include the three major psilocybin treatment options researched today. MDMA, ketamine and magic mushrooms have separated themselves as superior to big-pharma anti-depressant medications. They have shown the unique ability to rewire the brain and destroy a Veteran’s PTSD. Marijuana to a lesser extend provides mental relief from PTSD, but psilocybin has that extra break-though into the subconscious. That’s where the real healing, and magic, takes place. For examples of what it’s like to meet your demons and win during a trip, check this out.

“There is a mounting body of evidence to support our view. And this research is coming from highly-reputable institutions in the US, such as the psilocybin research coming from Johns Hopkins.  We are losing the war on PTSD. PTSD is what kills our Veterans. All forms of micro-dosing these mind-altering drugs shows greater promise than the current schedule of anti-depressants offered by the Veterans’ Administration. We fast-tracked a vaccine for COVID-19, and rightly so. It’s time for that sense of urgency to motivate more help for Veterans with PTSD.” says Dave Barbush, CEO of Once A Soldier.

Indeed, earlier this year, all of the major Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) in the nation expressed their support, as well.

The best scenario for a successful psilocybin treatment plan includes a clinical setting, a trained staff, and a low cost. The best part of the data to date has been that the relief comes fast and is near permanent. Veterans themselves have weighed in on their feelings about it. They like the outcome. Their PTSD is gone. They may not like the process, but they don’t like being dulled by their anti-depressants either.

Mr. Barbush continued. “Our motivation for fast-tracking research and a parallel training of staff to be “trip buddies” comes from hearing the suicide stories from Veterans families. The horror inflicted upon the Veteran during war is passed down to the family in the years before the suicide. The suicide itself also enables the disorder to continue to grow.

Furthermore, our position includes a robust go-to market strategy that educates all levels of soldiers and family about PTSD treatments, screenings and practical advice on life insurance and post-suicide options.”

“Let’s face it, we are losing the war on Veteran suicide at this time. The more effort we’ve put into it to date, the less we’ve seen it working. In fact, the numbers are rising. And those numbers – the branded 22 a day, were probably low to begin with.”

 

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.

 

Patient Describes Psilocybin Mental Health Benefits

Patient Describes Psilocybin Mental Health Benefits

A Success Story Over Depression

A recent video posted by the Johns Hopkins Media Team shows an interview with a male patient who underwent psilocybin treatement. During the 28-minute story, he explains what it’s like to trip out and how he was able to defeat the source of his depression.  “Michael” overcame his 15-year long depression with just two sessions of psilocybins administered in a controlled environment. Michael had been in psycho-therapy for over 15 years as well, so he had some insights and a skill set that many newbies may not, but we wanted to share his experience so that others can gain confidence to try this old but new source of  depression and PTSD defeating drugs.

soldier rests

During his trip, Michael had a conversation with his "inner critic" that was the source of his depression. After the brief conversation, his demon "just sorta went away."

Talking animals, talking objects, geometric shapes from out of the 80s, and a conversation with his “inner critic” are all what went down when Michael took his first trip. Like many, he was diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. It is this designation that many need to get to this next level of psilocybin treatment. Michael was also part of a Johns Hopkins program where he received “training” on what to expect. His trained professional “trip sitters” or guides, advised him on how to engage in the session, how to sit back and observe what was going on, and how to enable the change he wanted during the session.

This ability to be conscious enough to step in and out of the experience is key to a successful trip. His goal was to allow himself to talk to his “inner critic.” This critic was taking up alot of brain power, time and energy and was the key to his depression. He was able to defeat this critic by confronting him during the trip. In his own words, after the conversation, “he (his inner critic) was just kinda gone.” Putting a number to it, Michael says his demons are 90 – 95% gone.

Veterans struggling with PTSD demons have also given similar accounts of how they won. “It just poofed away.” is how one Vet described his PTSD reveral. He took a Ketamine IV-drip therapy treatment.

Michael said the turnaround has been ongoing. Unlike pills, the effects of psilcybin continue to help him long after the drug has worn off. He realized that sometimes there are benefits that don’t seem instant, but that reveal themselves over time. Michael said that in the days and months after his sessions, it’s like he’s no longer banging his head against a wall, rather he’s driving in a nail into the wall. His session becomes more useful and productive as time goes by.

“The human brain during a psilocybin session gets turned from a hard piece of clay, to a much softer more malleable one. Ruts that you’ve been stuck in get softened and you’re able to get out of them. There’s a plasticity to the brain that these meds create. They are able to hit the reset button on many of my emotional issues.”

Sources:

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.

VA Burial Benefits S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020

VA Burial Benefits S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020

Veterans Families Get Modest Increases

Recently passed, the Moran Act holds many Veterans benefits increases. S. 4511 was incorporated and enacted when President Trump signed it into law in October, 2020. “Its past time for the other victims of Veteran suicide to get some more substancial aid from the VA.” says Dave Barbush, CEO of Once A Soldier. “Veteran suicide is reinforced as the VA top priority in S. 4511. We would like to have seen some more creative and valuable support for Veterans suicide families.”

PTSD was also given a priority and help for Veterans suffering from it are now fingered out into more of America’s heartland. Places where the VA can’t reach, or don’t want to be reached, are now in view and hopefully this $174 million infusion will help suicide prevention. There is nothing in S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 for postvention. Congress needs to create a new loan program ala the GI Bill only for Veterans suicide families to borrow up to $5,000 to bury their Veteran with pride and dignity.

soldier rests

Veteran suicide is on the rise ever since we started tracking it in 2016. Prevention fails approximately 22 times a day.

S. 4511, Veteran Benefits Enhancement and Expansion Act of 2020 for Burial Benefits

Veteran suicide is on the rise ever since we started tracking it in 2016. Prevention fails approximately 22 times a day. What the new burial benefits don’t keep pace with is the dollar amount awarded as benefits. They continue to fall way short. If these increases are any indication of how much our legislators think of postvention support for the families of Veterans suicide, then it is going to be a hard road to travel indeed.

 

Burial Benefits. 

 

Several sections of S. 4511 would increase burial and death benefits for

veterans. The changes in those benefits, which are paid from mandatory appropriations,

would increase direct spending by $444 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Death Benefit. 

 

Section 202 would increase VA’s standard death benefit beginning in 2023.

 

Under current law, VA pays the surviving family of eligible veterans a monetary benefit to cover funeral and other expenses. The amount of the payment depends on whether theveteran was hospitalized by VA at the time of death, and whether the veteran died from a service-related condition. The standard VA death benefit is $300 for veterans who were not hospitalized by VA at the time of their death and whose death was not the result of service related conditions. The bill would increase that amount to equal the rate for veterans who were hospitalized by VA at the time of death, currently $796. 

Under section 202, that amount would increase with inflation each year. Using information from VA, CBO estimates that about 39,000 veteran families would receive $855 in 2023, an increase of $555. That gap compared to the current benefit would continue to grow, and CBO estimates that by 2030 an additional 46,000 families would receive an additional $700. In total, CBO estimates section 202 would increase direct spending by $212 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Outer Burial Receptacles

Section 203 would allow VA to pay the cost of an outer burial receptacle, such as a crypt or grave liner, for casketed burials that occur in state or tribal cemeteries. VA would begin providing that benefit in 2023. An outer burial receptacle is a container that is designed to protect the casket in the grave. Under current law, VA only provides outer burial receptacles for casketed burials in national veterans’ cemeteries. Using information from VA on the number of burials in state and tribal cemeteries and the cost of outer burial receptacles, CBO estimates that VA would provide an average of 12,400 additional outer burial receptacles per year at an average cost of $850, beginning in 2023. In total, CBO estimates providing outer burial receptacles for casketed burials in state and tribal cemeteries would increase direct spending by $88 million over the 2021-2030 period.

 

Burial Urns and Plaques. 

VA provides headstones or grave markers for veterans who are interred in cemeteries. The department does not provide those benefits for veterans who are not interred in cemeteries. Section 207 would require VA to provide an urn or memorial plaque for those veterans upon the request of their families. Veterans who served on or after April 6, 1917, and who otherwise were eligible for burial would be eligible for the new benefit. That change would be effective beginning in 2023.

 

CBO Cost 

Estimate S. 4511, as ordered reported by the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs

On the basis of information from VA about the number of headstones and markers providedannually, as well as data on burial and cremation trends, CBO estimates that in 2023 about 48,000 eligible families would request an urn or plaque under the bill. Under current law, CBO expects that those families would forgo requesting a headstone or grave marker because they would either retain the remains or scatter them. CBO estimates that 24,000 families would choose an urn and an equal number would choose a plaque. Because the percentage of people choosing cremation is expected to increase, CBO estimates that the number of urns and plaques also would rise—to 28,000 each by 2030.

Under the bill, the families of some veterans who will have died before the bill is enacted could also request urns or plaques. Using information from VA and data on trends in burials and cremations, CBO estimates 86,000 families would request urns, and 203,000 would request plaques over the 2023-2026 period for veterans who die before the date of enactment.

Over the 2021-2030 period, CBO estimates, 294,000 urns would be provided at an average cost of $175 each, and 410,000 plaques would be provided at an average cost of $59 each. In total, those urns and plaques would cost $76 million, CBO estimates.

Implementing section 207 would also affect discretionary spending. 

Transportation to State and Tribal Cemeteries.

Under current law, VA may pay the costs for transporting the remains of deceased veterans to the nearest national cemetery. Section 201 would allow VA to pay for the costs of transporting the remains of deceased veterans to state or tribal cemeteries, up to the amount it would cost to transport those remains to the nearest national cemetery. That change would be effective beginning in 2023.

On the basis of information from VA on the number of remains that receive the transportation benefit fromVA to national cemeteries, and the number of burials in state and tribal cemeteries, CBO  estimates an average of 11,000 additional veteran remains would have transportation costs covered by VA annually beginning in 2023. Using information on the average cost to provide transportation for deceased veterans to national cemeteries, CBO estimates transporting a veteran’s remains to state and tribal cemeteries will cost an averageof $710 beginning in 2023. In total, CBO estimates that the cost of transporting the remains of deceased veterans to state and tribal cemeteries would increase direct spending by $61 million over the 2021-2030 period.

Headstone Inscriptions.

Under current law, VA will inscribe on or replace, upon request, a veteran’s government-provided headstone or gravesite marker that is located in a national cemetery in order to include information about the veteran’s spouse or dependent children following the spouse’s or child’s death. Section 204 would allow VA to replace any headstones or gravesite markers it has provided for veterans, regardless of the type cemetery in which they are located. That new benefit would be available to veterans who die after October 1, 2019.

On the basis of information from VA on the number of headstones provided for veterans buried each year in non-VA cemeteries, as well as other demographic information such as marriage and mortality rates for veterans, CBO estimates that about 3,000 deceased veterans would be eligible for replacement headstones in 2021 as a result of the death of a spouse or dependent child.

Using data from VA, CBO estimates that the families of 25 percent of those veterans—about 750—would request replacement headstones. The number of eligible veterans would increase to about 24,000 by 2030, with about 6,000 families requesting replacement headstones in that year. In total, VA would replace about 31,000 additional headstones over the 2021-2030 period, at an average cost of about $230 per headstone. In total, replacing those headstones would cost $7 million, CBO estimates.

 

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. Together, 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.