THE HARD TRUTH
Every 65 minutes a Veteran Commits Suicide (22 a day). 1-in-4 Veterans (28%) who return home are diagnosed with PTSD/TBI many of whom don’t seek help because of the Stigma associated with having a mental health problem, the inconvenience of undergoing additional evaluations & treatments, and the fear of loosing their career or future promotion. Because 44% of returning troops have reported difficulties in transitioning and reintegration post-deployment, many with overlapping health disorders (IOM, 2013). Because the Family Member / Primary Caregiver who provides the vital support and care their warrior deserves also needs to know that they too are not alone.
- There are minimal current Veteran programs that meet our Veterans’ comprehensive health and social needs
- There are no current Veteran programs that provide a place for short to long-term rehabilitation and care
- Thus following statistics
- 19.5 – 22.8% mild TBI (OIF/OEF)
- 4-20% PTSD (OIF/OEF)
- 5-37% Depression (OIF/OEF)
- 4.7-39% Problematic Alcohol Use (OIF/OEF)
- 2010, nearly 300 service members committed suicide
- 175,000 – 250,000 Gulf War Veterans have Chronic multisymptom illness (CMI)
- Veterans’ needs peak several decades, historical data shows
Our Veterans require this option of care; their families deserve a healthy member; And Our nation needs healthy resilient Veteran-Citizens
WHAT DO STUDIES SAY ABOUT SUICIDE IN THE MILITARY?
- Of all active duty suicides between 2003 and 2009: 94.4% were male; modal age was 21; 74.3% were Caucasian; 52.1% were married; 57.1% were junior enlisted; 20.7% were in the infantry; 83.3% were Active Component; 69.3% had one or more deployments; 67.5% were by gunshot; 19.8 were by hanging; 4.6% were by overdose (drugs/alcohol).
- Historically, the Army suicide rate has been significantly lower than the civilian rate (the civilian rate, demographically adjusted, is typically about 19.2 per 100,000). However, suicide and accidental death rates began trending upward in 2004, and in 2008, the Army suicide rate crested above the national average and reached a record of 20.2 per 100,000.
- Veterans aged 20 through 24, those who have served during the war on terror, 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.)
- For every suicide death in 2009, at least five members of the armed forces were hospitalized for attempting to take their life.
- According to the Navy Times, 2 percent of Army; 2.3 percent of Marines, and 3 percent of Navy respondents to the military’s own survey of 28,536 members from all branches reported they had attempted suicide at some point.
- A 2007 CBS study put the suicide rate among male veterans aged 20 to 24 at four times the national average—more than 40 per 100,000 per year.
The Department of Veterans Affairs reported in January 2010, that the suicide rate among 17 to 29-year-old male veterans jumped 26 percent from 2005 to 2007.
THE ENEMY OF OUR WARRIORS
A substantial number of the 1.5 million US troops returning from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan may face mental health problems many of which have been deployed for multiple tours. A RAND study conducted in 2008 found that an estimated 18.5 percent of those Warriors back from deployment reported symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of the “SIGNATURE” wounds of the Afghan and Iraq wars, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or depression. Worse yet is that research on the prevalence of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) among returning troops in sparse (RAND 2008) therefore the projections of Veterans with TBI is difficult to define but approximated between 3% and 10% of the 1.5 million veterans who have returned. Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 1-in-5 (20%) of Warriors who return home will have PTSD or TBI yet will go undiagnosed and unaware of what to look for. When combined these numbers equate to nearly 40% of the Warriors who are suffering or will suffer from the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the “signature wounds” of these operations. Often these injuries in combination with a grievous physical injury yet if not treated a veteran with TBI is 4x more likely to commit suicide than one without.
THE NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE
July 1, 2004 VOL. 351 NO. 1
The ground breaking report that opened the eyes of all.
COMBAT DUTY IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, AND BARRIERS TO CARE
This study provides an initial look at the mental health of members of the Army and the Marine Corps who were involved in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our findings indicate that among the study groups there was a significant risk of mental health problems and that the subjects reported important barriers to receiving mental health services, particularly the perception of stigma among those most in need of such care.
THIS REPORT WAS RELEASED IN 2004 AND TODAY IN 2013 STIGMA IS STILL A MAJOR BARRIER TO OVERCOME.
OBSTACLES TO CARE
Families of Warriors make tremendous sacrifices that allow a Warrior to go into the theaters of war. They lose the participation of the Warrior in day-to-day family activities and the family’s emotional life, cope with erratic schedules for moves and Warrior deployments, experience the return of “someone different from the person they supported in going to battle,” and are in the end the ones who are burdened with the bulk of responsibility for the Warriors’ successful return to civilian society. Spouses/caregivers of Warriors suffering from the invisible wounds of war are eligible for NO government services that prepare them, educate them, or support them in assisting their injured Warriors. They not only bear the weight of a Warrior’s return to home and community life, they are critical elements in the Warrior’s successful return from the battlefield. Statistics show that when spouses/caregivers participate in therapy with the Warrior suffering from PTSD and/or TBI chances of the Warrior’s successful “recovery” from the injury is close to 80%. When the spouse/caregiver does not participate in therapy along with the Warrior, chances of the Warrior’s recovery drops to less than 50%. The rates of divorce for Warriors suffering the invisible wounds of war are horrendous at 90% due in part to the lack of support and training that these Primary Care Givers get resulting in spouses/caregivers becoming overwhelmed by the cumulative costs of being the spouse/caregiver of a Warrior before the in-theater experience and the “after-war” experience, and ultimately cannot continue with the relationship.
CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF TRAUMATIC STRESS 2010 ANNUAL REPORT