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 Help After a Veteran Suicide

Why We Help After a Veteran Suicide

My Motivation & Love for the OAS Mission

I don’t know anyone who committed suicide. I am not a Veteran. My dad, Jake, did four years as a Navy lifeguard, but that was before any of us were born. None of my immediate family served after him. My neighbor’s kid joined the Navy recently, but that’s about it. Not the typical backstory for this kind of service. I have ulterior motives, yes, and in truth, we hope to show why we need to go slow into sending our troops overseas. But why do we have a love for Veteran familes after a suicide?

Lost to PTSD and suicide, Chad Defrates seen here fishing with his neice Michelle.

When the Co-Worker Met the VA Suicide Report

To answer that, meet Mallory.  A graphic artist and wife of a Navy helicopter pilot. Mal and I were working together in Jacksonville when the VA published their 2016 report on Veteran suicide. I was shocked when I heard it. And then angry after I put the two together. What if Mallory’s husband acquired PTSD and decided to kill himself? Who’s there to help her? 

In society, nonprofits fill in the cracks that people fall into. Not enough food, housing, awareness. My Google searches, phone calls and emails all said the same thing: there is no one there on the scene after a Veteran suicide. That’s not unusual. Suicides happen all the time, but to me, this ending for Mallory was unacceptable and would be met with a fierce partner to get them through it.

TAPS is a nonprofit with a postvention mission, like Once A Soldier. We deal with the hours and days immediately after a Vetearn suicide. TAPS offers annual events and grieving support. Many families find comfort via their long-term mental health support programs. They can network and find like families. That makes us happy. Together, and with the VA support somewhere in the middle, families get some help standing back up.

We know we can do better. Not just as a nonprofit filling this niche, but as a country. Despite Washington’s best efforts, the problems only getting worse. Help only kicked off in 2018 when the report’s legislation got appropriations. I honestly don’t think we should be surprised that more Vets are killing themsevles. Coming home from Afghanistan is hard. Coming home with or developing PTSD is a ruthless foe. Hard to beat. 

But there’s hope. More and more legislation and research findings are pointing towards psycholdelic and natural drugs as PTSD killers. We’ve been advocating for a national plan of using ketamine IV drips for suicidal veterans. 

The rewards that come with meeting the families and their friends expand every day. We reach 100 new people every day looking for veteran suicide statistics, research and data resources. We’re hearing more stories about being referred by word of mouth. That’s mindblowing.  OAS will continue to fight and we will continue to love our job.

 

 

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.

988 Is The New 911 For Veteran Suicide Intervention Help

988 Is The New 911 For Veteran Suicide Intervention Help

Nationwide Hotline For Veterans and Civilians

On October 18, 2020, when President Trump signed into law Senate bill 798 from U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.)—Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee— a new suicide prevention national hotline of 988 also kicked off.

Called both a landmark and a groundbreaking law that goes by the long name of The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act, expect many new and different Veterans PTSD and Veteran suicide prevention services around the country. What makes the new law groundbreaking is that the VA is for the first time, accepting that Veteran charities and others can help, and that there are provisions to hold the VA accountable for it’s own. Credit to the VA leadership for stepping up and for the Congress that helped forge this bi-partisan bill.

John “Scott” Hannon along with Ruby

Admittedly, the 988 number is not the headline here. The Commander John Scott Hannon Veterans Mental Health Care Improvement Act will improve outreach to veterans and their mental health care options in six major ways:

· Bolstering VA’s mental health workforce to serve more veterans by offering scholarships to mental health professionals to work at Vet Centers and placing at least one Suicide Prevention Coordinator in every VA hospital.

· Improving rural veterans’ access to mental health care by increasing the number of locations at which veterans can access VA telehealth services.

· Implementing a pilot program to provide veterans access to complementary and integrative health programs through animal therapy, agritherapy, sports and recreation therapy, art therapy and post-traumatic growth.

· Establishing a grant program that requires VA to better collaborate with community organizations across the country already serving veterans. This collaboration will result in earlier identification of veterans who are at risk of suicide and will provide the ability to intervene with preventative services.

· Studying the impact of living at high altitude on veterans’ suicide risk and diagnostic biomarker research to identify depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and other conditions.

· Holding the VA accountable for its mental health care and suicide prevention efforts by examining how the Department manages its suicide prevention resources.

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 Listed in DoD and VA National Resource Directory (NRD)

OAS Listed in DoD and VA National Resource Directory (NRD)

NRD Connects Us With the DoD and the VA

 

Once a Soldier is now part of the National Directory Resource. The National Resource Directory and the Office of Warrior Care Policy engages with programs for Service Members and Veterans across the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, other U.S. Government agencies, and associated organizations. Our listing can be found here.

“This is a big step forward on a few fronts,” said David Barbush, CEO of Once a Soldier. “First, the uniqueness of our mission’s focus enabled this assignment. Second, we are on a national stage where more families can find us. That brings us great satisfaction.”

Veteran Suicide Families Now Have A Place to Call

The National Resource Directory (NRD) is a resource website that connects wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them.

It provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics that supply an abundance of vetted resources.

Once a Soldier got the call from Max Dolan from the Defense Health Agency’s Recovery Coordination Program. Mr. Dolan is part one of a handful of PEER Support Coordinators. He is responsible for Region 9 that covers North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Most of the NRD deals with Veterans issues for those who are in need of medical and mental health. While we don’t expect the parents and families of Veteran suicide to reach out via the NRD, it brings us closer to our mission accomplished goal of raising awareness about their unmet needs.

 

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.