April 17, 2008

Who is Killing our Veterans?

In the coming years we are going to see a growing trend in veterans suicide. On Nov. 13, 2007 CBS reported:
Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror. They had the highest suicide rate among all veterans, estimated between two and four times higher than civilians the same age. (The suicide rate for non-veterans is 8.3 per 100,000, while the rate for veterans was found to be between 22.9 and 31.9 per 100,000.)"
This is just the beginning, the Iraqi veterans have been exposed to unprecedented levels of sustained combat. Never before in the American history of War have our soldiers seen three and four tours of combat as a common experience.
Penny Coleman, author of Flashback: Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Suicide, and the Lessons of War testified before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on December 12, 2007,
"My name is Penny Coleman. I am the widow of Daniel O’Donnell, a Vietnam veteran who came home from his war with what is now known as PTSD and subsequently took his own life. I use the term PTSD grudgingly—it is the official term, but it is deeply problematic. My husband did not have a disorder. He had an injury that was a direct result of his combat experience in Vietnam. Calling it a disorder is dangerous; it reinforces the idea that a traumatically injured soldier is defective, and that idea is precisely the stigma that keeps soldiers from asking for help when they need it."
She goes on to report that more than 6256 veteran commit suicide a year.

Over 30 years have passed since the Vietnam War ended, since then more than 180,000 veteran deaths have been attributed to suicide. 300,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from mental illness. 58,000 names emblazon the black granite in Washington D.C. at the Vietnam Memorial Wall, one third of the amount of veteran's deaths attributed to suicide.

The VA system is poorly underfunded and not ready to take on such a high level of veterans needing mental health care...as we will see in the next 10-20 years.


  1. Its not only the VA - but the lack of support from the military. When soldiers try to go to the military to get help for PTSD and other war combat related injuries - they are brushed aside... and told that they need to suck it up.

    Regardless of what the Army says to try to cover this up - its obvious by the amount of suicides that are still going on today... if the proper help was given to those coming back to war, suicides would not be on the rise.

    My husband is a combat wounded soldier at Fort Bragg. The Warrior Transition Unit is ran by National Guard - by many who have not even been to war. There are less than 100 combat wounded soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit with almost 600 soldiers total. Guys who have broken legs from training are put in with combat injured soldiers - the mix is not working.

    The Warrior Transition Unit needs to separate the combat wounded from other soldiers and treat them with 1. RESPECT 2. DIGNITY 3. COMPASSION.

    It does not take a rocket scientist to figure this out. Why all of the red tape?

  2. I have went through the fire of combat and finally reintegrated back into society in 2007. 16 years later my internal war has just now abated, I still attend therapy (exposure therapy). I have had three years of therapy and will likely require three more.

    Research the regulations and policies, use this to gain a voice in your soldiers plight. Contact your congressperson and senator. Become an advocate for the Warrior Transition Unit. You will become empowered instead of feeling defeated and find what may be your purpose in life.

  3. Ptsd is a physical injury to the sympathetic nervous systems fight or flight response. It's a permanent injury, ptsd has no cure. Any stress contributes to the symptoms of ptsd. Any stress feels like a life or death emergancy to the trauma survivors body. That's it, ptsd in a nut shell. PTSD is a NEURO- LOGICAL injury, not a PSYCHO- LOGICAL one. An over dose of stress hormones during the stress/trauma permanently injures natures stress response. There is hope for acceptance in the aftermath of war/trauma.
    scroll down to the last two posts to read ptsd in a nut shell by chris woolnough

  4. Who is killing our veterans? The so called mental health proffessionals! PTSD veterans are dying in their sleep due to being overmedicated by anti every things, anti depressants, anti anxiety and the worst, anti psychotics, which have side effects like permanent neurological injury and death!

    read it here to save your life

  5. Anony 1, the last part of that comment from Chris is awesome!!!!! A must read.

    Anony 2, to say the mental health professional is to blame would one would have to overlook the problem. Summed up quickly we do not have enough funding to hire the appropriate number of mental health professionals to meet the overwhelming demand put upon the Veterans Administration and the Department of Defense.

    To attempt (and poorly at that) a remedy or band-aid the problem, Psychiatrists (which comprise a small percentage of mental health professionals, and the only ones able to prescribe meds) prescribe medications, many times in place of therapy. Medications should be used in conjunction with therapy and only in limited circumstances become a permanent part of treatment.

    Now, what do we do until we can hire enough mental health professionals? If you have any suggestions, please feel free to join the discussion.

  6. What do we do until we hire enough mental health proffessionals? Number one in my book is to educate the consumer. First off, PTSD is not a psycho'logical dis-ease. The sympathetic nervous system controls natures stress response, and as part of the auto nomic nervous system it does so without consious thought. So, it's pretty futile to treat ptsd sufferers as if they were mentally ill to begin with. (PTSD is a NEURO-LOGICAL injury to the fight or flight response) Just like diabetes, the pancrease is assaulted with sugar before it is permanently destroyed. Too much stress destroyes the sympathetic nervous system. So, why not hire NEUROLOGISTS to treat the physio- logical symptoms of ptsd? Second, educate the consumer about the dangers of psych medication so they can make informed decisions. Just say no to drugs that can potentially kill you. (another traumatic stressor!)http://vetwives.multiply.com/tag/veterans%20alert!!

  7. Thank you Soldier

    Have you stopped to thank a veteran today?
    For the price of freedom they had to pay?
    Did you gaze into those distant eyes?
    Did you see the ghosts he can't deny?
    Did you think a soldier's heart was made of steel?
    Because he was trained to kill, he couldn't feel?
    Did you see the guilt written on his face,
    For the loss of life he can't replace?
    Did you know he mourns the lives he couldn't save,
    And walks with comrades in their grave?
    Did you remember the boy with innocence lost?
    Do you really know war's ultimate cost?
    Have you felt the blast of artillery fire?
    Do you have the courage it would require?
    Have you stood in trenches consumed with fear?
    Felt the enemies breath so very near?
    Have you walked with God on a battleground?
    Seen your brothers dead or dying all around?
    Have you stopped to thank a vet today,
    Or did you just turn and walk away?
    From the pain he'll carry for the rest of his life,
    Did you consider his family, his children, his wife?
    That watch him suffer in silence each and every day,
    As he's haunted by memories that don't go away?
    Did you care that the soldier is still pulling guard?
    That his heart, mind, and soul will forever be scarred?
    Do you know how he suffers from ptsd?
    Or that our precious freedom is never free?
    Did you care that he still hears the blood curdling screams?
    Or that he returns to the war each night in his dreams?
    Have you felt the sorrow of a combat vet?
    Or would you rather just forget?
    That war has pierced his courageous heart,
    And torn this soldier all apart?
    Would you rather our heroes just fade away?
    Or will you stop to thank a vet today?

    By Chris Woolnough 10/29/03

  8. Chris, thank you for sharing and revealing your inner voice. You are correct to say that PTSD is the result of damage done to the sympathetic nervous system. Neurologists do study the combat neurological combat injuries such as PTSD and TBI. Their results have begun to trickle into the mounting journal articles studying the effects of war on the soldier and veteran.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee