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.