Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Military Suicide Epidemic: 16 Veterans, Every Day

This morning I am looking at a disturbing effort by military wives to write words on their bare skin and then share photographs of themselves in order to remove the stigma of seeking help for PTSD. I saw it on a creepy website called iVillage that has a lot of Michelle Obama in your face -- as in, you cannot get her pop-up ad to stop obscuring the bottom of the page you are trying to view.

Another example of the creepiness: if you click on the photo of the bare backed woman hoping to see more ("Related Photos") it insists on taking you to a photo essay called "Hottest Military Dads." :-p

But Battling Bare is attempting to address a real problem that affects us all, not just veterans, and not just veterans' loved ones. Their facebook page led me to this poster, which I shared:

Also to Rachel Maddow's story on a Veterans Administration building in danger of collapsing from the weight of a backlog of 37,000 file folders pertaining to unprocessed claims by about a million veterans. Claims that have been waiting for months or even years to be addressed.

I very seldom share, or even view, programs that contain ads for corporate sponsors (and these on MSNBC are truly odious -- Bank of America's credit card, BP on how great the Gulf is now) but I will make an exception in this case because the story is so important:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Remember, a soldier who dies by suicide is a soldier whose family will no longer be receiving payments from the Pentagon. Unless the family sues alleging that the government failed to respond to legitimate claims for care that was never received. Good luck with that.

A woman stopped Sunday at our ongoing vigil on the bridge in Skowhegan, Maine. Her partner had hollered out the window as he drove by, wanting to know who were we: independent? I nodded yes and his face brightened. Not for Obama? Nope. Romney either? No again.

The woman told us she was newly a grandmother. Her two week-old grandson's daddy had been deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Army had plans to send him back for the 5th deployment. "He doesn't want to go," she told me. "He used to be enthusiastic and he loved his country. But he doesn't believe in these wars anymore."

I'll end with an excellent Democracy Now! segment on the epidemic of soldier suicides -- more die by their own hand than are killed in combat, and that is the way of death for 16 veterans PER DAY. From suicide prevention educator Kevin Hines: "...sometimes you go to a base that has one psychiatrist per 5,000 to 10,000 servicemen and women."

1 comment:

chrisrushlau said...

Like Chico, dressed as Groucho, said in "Duck Soup", "Who you gonna believe, me or your own eyes?"