They pop up on my Facebook news feed far too often. This soldier got out last year. This Marine had such a bright future ahead of him. This one struggled and we knew it -- and we did what we could. Another seemed so fine, and yet.
But military suicide never before broke my heart the way it did Dec. 31 of last year.
My husband [name omitted] died last night due to self inflicted gun shot. He was found this evening. My life and heart is shattered.I had never met the woman who posted that message, but I had been following their fight with PTSD and injury via cyberspace for a long time. She was the poster child for a strong caretaker. There was literally nothing more she could've done to advocate for him, to reach out to him, to help him, to stand tall and strong for her family.
And she immediately blamed herself loudly, publicly. "I failed him." And just as loudly, just as publicly came the chorus of her friends. "YOU. DID. NOT."
She shares her feelings on his struggle and death at length in this blog post, so I will let her tell you it in her own words.
Statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide a day -- and it could be more. TWENTY-TWO. And while we know that, really, there is no magic pill for stopping suicide all together, there are ways to reach out and help.
And that is what the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act is all about -- getting better at reaching out with help. If you're not convinced that the system is failing at least some of our veterans, you should go here to read about Clay Hunt, a former Marine who took his own life after struggling to get help from the Veterans Affairs administration.
Signed into law by the President last week, here is what it does:
-- Expands funding to the VA so they can hire more mental health care workers and offer veterans mental healthcare for a longer period after they leave the service.
-- Requires the VA to submit to periodic independent audits of their mental healthcare systems to make sure they are up to snuff. We suspect that right now they are not.
-- Create a one-stop VA website with mental health care information and suicide prevention help. Right now it can be hard to figure out where to go for help.
-- Create a pilot program that amps up peer support and community outreach for transitioning vets.
As the tools given the green light and funding by this bill become available, we'll be sure to update you.
Photo courtesy IAVA