What is needed and why are we relevant?

What is needed and why are we relevant?

After my son Danny’s second tour in Afghanistan and his separation from the Army with 10th Mountain Division, we very quickly came to the realization that he had been severely underprepared for his transition from military life. We invested a great deal of time, energy and frustration with the fact that a process or a program should have been provided during pre-separation that would have prepared him for what he would experience. We began to envision forming an organization to address this problem and to put what we had learned from our own experiences into action for others. It was 2004 and there were an estimated 3,500 Veteran related non-profit organizations across the nation. At the time this seemed like a very large number. Fast forward to 2015, there are now over 45,000. We began by asking ourselves a question that has continued to guide me to this day, “What is needed and why are we relevant?” What is Needed? First, what is not needed. In my opinion, not another well intending Veteran services organization replicating what hundreds of similar groups are doing. Not another redundant small non-profit competing for donors and attention in a very confusing landscape of choices. A landscape of players and organization that has become so confusing and so vast it is often referred to as a “Sea of goodwill”. With Veterans dying from suicide at a rate of 18-22 per day, we need to get ahead of this problem as fast as possible. Prevention and early intervention, before Veterans spiral out of control seems to make the most common sense. Don’t compete, collaborate. What is...
Suicide Prevention Resources

Suicide Prevention Resources

Prevention Resources Vets Prevail– Build. Engage. Prevail. www.vetsprevail.com National Suicide Prevention Lifeline– Call them at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ National Suicide Prevention Resource Center – Support, guidance, and resources http://www.sprc.org/ Veterans Crisis Line – call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1 or send a text message to 838255 http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ VETCenter – Nationwide Network of Support Centers http://www.vetcenter.va.gov/index.asp AfterDeployment.org http://www.afterdeployment.org/ National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder www.ncptsd.org and the National Military Families Association www.nmfa.org dedicated to active duty military families and many other national organizations now link and send thousands of visitors a month to the Veterans and Families Foundation website. Wounded Warrior Project – An organization dedicated to the well being and adjustment of wounded warriors in America http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/ Make the Connection – Shared Experiences and Support for Veterans http://maketheconnection.net/ Video Resources VA Suicide Prevention with Gary Sinise – Video USMC Suicide Prevention with Gary Sinise – Video Suicide Prevention PSA for Military Families –...
Veteran Suicides Each Year Eclipses Total OEF/OIF U.S. Military Killed in Action Since 9/11

Veteran Suicides Each Year Eclipses Total OEF/OIF U.S. Military Killed in Action Since 9/11

Wake Up, America We are about to cross a catastrophic milestone in our nation’s history… and nobody knows it. The latest U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) report from the DEFENSE CASUALTY ANALYSIS SYSTEM puts the number of U.S. military killed in action (KIA) while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan at 6,567 as of December 14, 2012. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans are not correlating the lives lost in The War On Terror with the catastrophic loss of life occurring when warriors come home. In the United States, every 80 minutes a U.S. Military Veteran who actually made it home alive from Afghanistan and Iraq dies from suicide. That’s 18 per day, 6,570 per year. Skeptical of this statistic? Here’s a Policy Brief titled: Losing the Battle, The Challenge of Military Suicide from the  Center for a New American Security. If this trend continues there will be more Post 911 Veteran Suicides on the near horizon than are names on the Vietnam Wall (58,261), do the math. Herein lies a big “Catch 22” that is a part of the homecoming dilemma Veterans and their families are faced with. Problem: The Preparedness and Decompression Dilemma   When service members leave the military and become veterans they are no longer employees under the care of the Department of Defense. Upon separation from military service, all health care and mental health services transfer from the DOD to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). DOD out-processing ends and the VA in-processing begins. Unfortunately, by the time Veterans who need help the most arrive home, for many, an opportunity to most effectively help them...
A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

A Suicide Prevention Solution Hiding in Plain Sight

If you were duck hunting, when do you load your guns…When you see the ducks? Of course not. By the time Homecoming Veterans who need the help the most end up on the doorsteps of their families, for many, it’s already too late. The solution: Help Veterans before they become Veterans. Help them better prepare for homecoming during the critical months prior to separation from military service and during the dangerous months after they arrive home. The Decompression Dilemma The entire military and VA heath systems are operating with a major disconnect for Veterans and their families. A “Catch 22″ exists for Veterans who are suffering the most from PTSD and other Combat related mental health issues. It is a major contributing factor to not only Veteran suicide but it explains some of the underlying reason why Veterans and their families are spiraling out of control and falling between the cracks of our society. The “Catch 22″: Warriors are trained to accomplish their mission or to die trying. Adapt, improvise and overcome is the ethos that is galvanized into their being. This Spartan code has been trained into young men and women of every nation since before Homer wrote the Iliad. Remember the old saying? “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Here’s the problem with this “when the going gets tough” mentality. Warriors who need help the most are unwilling or incapable of asking for it. The catch 22, All VA mental health services are voluntary and the only way to get help after separating from the military is to ask for it. Even worse, there...

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