All gave some: Some gave all
June 15, 2023
CHEYENNE COUNTY – Since August 19, 2021, the number of U.S. Military Veterans in crisis rose steadily by 40% nationwide and has not yet began to decrease. This weekend, I learned of an incredible resource for veteran family members and friends which can go a long way in saving lives.
"All gave some – some gave all," is an understatement when we are talking about the number of veterans still battling demons of their own. Combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) affects 7 out of 100 veterans daily at some point in their lives post service; that's only one percent less than American adults dealing with PTSD.
Prior to the fall of Afghanistan in August 2021, veterans made up 7.9% of the US adult population, however, 13.5%, or roughly 6,000 a year, of reported adult suicides were of veterans. Since the start of the Global War on Terror, nearly 23,000 U.S. veterans died by suicide.
This last week, someone close to me was experiencing a CPTSD crisis and our community rallied behind this individual to get them the help they needed without putting anyone's life in danger thanks to an expansion of the National Suicide Hotline aimed at addressing the alarming increase of veteran suicides.
According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) 2022 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, published in September 2022, veteran suicide was on the rise once again in 2021, despite being on the decline from 2018 through 2020. The VA suggested it expected the incline to continue through 2022, into 2023 and potentially beyond.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, signed into law by former President Donald Trump in 2020, directed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to designate 9-8-8, option 1, specifically for veterans in crisis. It also allows for family members, loved ones and friends to utilize the number to help their veteran in crisis. Veterans in crisis can call 9-8-8, text 838255 or chat online at http://www.VeteransCrisisLine.net/chat.
Unlike the national hotline, 9-8-8, option 1, is specifically for veterans, service members and their families – the team who answers is specifically trained in crisis intervention, military culture and first responders to help aid in deescalation efforts to ensure tragedy is avoided.
When a veteran or family member calls, the caller gets to decide how much or little information they wish to share; then they are given a number of options and resources to help – much of it is through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
According to the nonprofit, Military Suicide Awareness, the "22 A Day" movement indicates veteran suicides are inching higher: "Everyday, 22 veterans lose their battle to post traumatic stress on American soil. That is 1 veteran every 65 minutes." Among the highest are combat veterans dealing with CPTSD, however, that rate could be as high as 40 veterans a day, currently.
As a family member, friend and loved one to several veterans myself, I have had the unfortunate experience of losing my veterans in crisis, post combat, to suicide, accidental or natural death causes. There are warning signs, and in my humble opinion, it is up to each and everyone of us to be aware of subtle or unsubtle changes in our veterans. It's up to us to reach out to them on a regular basis or offer to buy them a beer and just listen.
According to the 9-8-8 crisis line and the VA, the best way to combat veteran suicide as family members, loved ones and friends is by being there when they need us and by paying attention.
My veteran voluntarily surrendered to law enforcement without incident, violence or charges filed to a specialized CPTSD program with the VA the night he was in crisis. That night, he could have wrapped himself around a tree or potentially ended the lives of others had he decided to drive. The law enforcement involved were trained to deescalate the situation and informed by 9-8-8 it was a veteran in crisis. Although this particular incident ended favorably for all involved – a dear veteran friend of mine did lose his battle to CPTSD in 2022, the week after Afghanistan fell. It's in loving memory of U.S. Army Veteran Noah "Pic" Pincus and my current veteran in crisis (a Marine) I ask our community to keep an eye on and an open heart for our veterans – because although they came home physically – some of them are still trapped at war in their heads. Simply – be there for those who sacrificed more than we can imagine.