CDR Salamander: Veterans Suicide: Facts Against Chatter

| February 5, 2013

A hundred of you have sent us links over the past few weeks about the scourge of veterans suicides and I’ve really wanted to write about it, but I’ve written so much about it in the last several months that I’ve run out of things to say about it. So checking our links today, I ran across an article by CDR Salamander at the award-winning blog US Naval Institute and since he said it all so well, I don’t have to;

It’s ok. It’s not just you. You’re not alone.

No, I not writing words of encouragement to veterans suffering with PTSD; though they are out there and probably need it. No, I am not writing to veterans who are suicidal; though they are out there and probably need it. No, I am writing to those who are sick of the drumbeat of articles, news stories, or listening to the empathy addict down the street that just won’t shut up about how much she cares and only wants to hear things that validate her preconceived notions.

You should read the whole thing, Veterans Suicide: Facts Against Chatter

Category: Veterans Issues

Comments (20)

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  1. AW1 Tim says:

    Sal is one of my heroes. He also has a GREAT blog, and is the kind of officer I would have followed anywhere.

  2. AW1 Tim says:

    This whole “turn the veteran into a victim” process has been going on for a VERY long time, as Sal points out. I can give you one example which I vividly remember.

    Back in the early 80’s, some whack-job shot up a bunch of folks in a McDonald’s out in Compton, California. I was watching the coverage live on CNN and thought it couldn’t be more horrible, but I was proven wrong. Shortly after the coverage started, a female anchor back at CNN asked their rep onsite, in breathless excitement, if there was any indication that the shooter was a “Vietnam Veteran”.

    The question itself laid the groundwork, and pointed out in it’s brevity the bias of the anchor, and the way they were all hoping the story would go. It turns out that no, he wasn’t a Vietnam Veteran, but that never made the news until much later on. The story was there, and the meme was in place, and so many folks were wondering then if he WAS a Vietnam Veteran, then what about their own neighbors who were? Etc ad nauseum.

    I’m not a Vietnam Veteran. I’m th4 same age as Jonn and just missed the cut. But I had similar experience with the filthy stinking hippies and their attempts to portray everyone who ever served as broken and a victim of some sorts.

    We have to fight back, because we are all we have. No one else is going to be coming to help us out, because everyone else sees the cash value in “helping” us. Whether we need it or not.

  3. dnice says:

    Just another way to discredit the military and make our impact on society minimal.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Marginalized…validate preconceived notions… etc.

    Aside from the idea of a stigmatism to one’s career (which most people have gotten over, I suppose), from my experience, most counselors I’ve met are useless.

    The one I went to on the West Coast was good, but she retired between my assignments there. Then when I moved to the E. Coast, I started up with follow ups and found the counselor to be useless. When I talked about things that bothered me, it bothered her, and she didn’t provide any tools to help cope with some pretty awful issues. I did all the talking and she just scribbled, quite literally, without uttering a word through most of the sessions.

    As long as I “validated her preconceived notions”, I guess in her eyes our relationship flourished.

    When I asked the head psychiatrist to be reassigned to someone else, he just peered at me over his glasses and told me to get over it.

    I guess I did, and found other ways to cope (without drinking, kicking the dog, or using drugs). I PT’d more, and focused on relationships that mattered – just generally kept myself busy so my mind wouldn’t wander into thoughts that kept me awake at night.

  5. Treny says:

    A couple of months back we (ORARNG) had the mandated resilience training and it was presented that the majority of suicides were people who had not deployed. Now I can’t remember if that was just a Guard statistic or if it was Army wide. I will just saythis about the suicide thing. The military is doing a terrible job of being ahead of the story. It needs to get out in front of the news media and present the truth, terrible or not, aand quit letting the media run their version of the story(ies).

  6. Trent says:

    Sorry about the spelling. I am posting from my phone.

  7. Ex-PH2 says:

    So long as ex-military, whether retired or simply discharged, are set apart and targeted by the press in any way at all, this categorizing of all veterans will continue.

    I never felt any hesitation about putting my time in the Navy on my resume when I was applying for work because it was work experience. I was hired for my first civilian job because of my Navy training in photography.

    Nor did I ever feel marginalized or ostracized because of my service, but that was when I was still working. This is now. I’m not sure what the reaction would be.

    Newer veterans especially need to be treated with more respect, not viewed as ticking timebombs or unable to function in society in a normal way. Whatever happened to the drop-in centers for vets? Is that gone? Do we need to start it up again?

  8. Joe Williams says:

    I am what they call a high risk Nam Vet. Over 50,single and the injuries I recieved in Nam getting worse. I used to be asked on every VA visit if I had or were thinking about offing myself. My answer that the questions was”NO but Hell NO. Joe

  9. FatCircles0311 says:

    Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

    I don’t even know how I would react if somebody seriously questioned if I has PSTD. I’m not sure how much laughing in their face would damage their world view.

  10. DefendUSA says:

    I’m glad I never played into that shit. No, I’ve never been in combat, but, there were easily some events in the military that could have made my life hell. I was around the right people and it all worked out. I wish it could be the same for everyone. As Grim said long ago, it takes the tools you’ve got at the time to deal until you can get the rest. Some of us have always had the tools.

  11. Hondo says:

    Burkett’s work 15 years ago remains spot-on. A tiny minority of Vietnam vets have serious issues (as a certain Witless fool who shows up periodically here proves). The rest, as a group, are (1) healthier, (2) better adjusted, and (3) more successful than their age-group peers who never served. Yet that tiny minority with issues – and the phonies and hangers-on that they attract – gets all the attention from the media because their story fits the media’s agenda.

    The same was true after World War II, and Korea. And I’d guess it was probably true after World War I as well. You didn’t hear much about those with issues because the media just wasn’t quite as badly biased back then.

    I’m guessing an analysis of Iraq and Afghanistan vets 20 years from now will show exactly the same thing.

  12. A Proud Infidel says:

    The left, especially their lackeys in the mess media, will always denigrate us Vests and the Military in any way they can, they’re NOT our friends or an ally. Their bias is sickening as well. Here we’re about to go on a huge cut in Military Spending with GI’s suffering, and we have B. Hussein Øbama & family treating themselves to as much luxury as they can on our money. Just how much did their Hawaiian Christmas vacation cost us, I’ve heard anywhere from 4 to twenty million dollars, and all that money could have helped a LOT of Vets!

  13. Detn8r says:

    My wife may have hit the nail on the head with her comment of validation. She is an Army Vet and has been in the civilian sector as a contractor and Government employee in computers. Six years ago, she made the decisioon to drop out of the mainstream work force and become a farmer. When I retired from the Army in 2011 and was hired in the Government, she made the comment that I had been validated. I asked her what she meant and her answer was, that for years, in and out of the military, her skills and work ethic were validated by her peers. This from a woman that can work circles around me! I am not one for needing validation from anyone, but, actually had to agree with her to an extent. Everything that I had been trained to do was still valuable to someone, and it felt good to be seen as valuable. However, without her, I would have never made it this far in life. And every day I let her know how valuable she is to the world and me.

    Pretaining to suicide, I believe, that as I got older and realized that I no longer was needed or a viable member of society, thoughts of ending my run would probably enter into my thought process, probably not. But would explain, in part, to the high numbers of older Vets choosing the long sleep over hanging around. This is no different than anyone in the civilian sector that has been large and in charge in their youth.

  14. Twist says:

    I just wish the Army would come up with a better method than death by powerpoint suicide prevention classes. The best class on the topic that I went to was one given by the chaplins in my Brigade. A few of us per Battalion were sent to it. It was two days and wasn’t about stopping us personnaly from commiting suicide. It was an in depth class on how to talk to someone and the steps we take when we think someone is going to harm themselves. A couple of students from that class actualy ended up preventing a couple of suicides.

  15. Retired Warfighter says:

    The fact of the matter is that a very very small percentage of troops are too weakminded for combat. When this small percentage comes home they develop PTSD, Depression, Substance Abuse issues, and they off themselves. These people should be weeded out in basic, but they aren’t and they give the rest of us a bad name. Combat is tough and if you’re not tougher than it is you have no business there.

  16. Retired Combat Leader says:

    “The fact of the matter is that a very very small percentage of troops are too weakminded for combat. When this small percentage comes home they develop PTSD, Depression, Substance Abuse issues, and they off themselves”


    My son overheard a Gunny briefing newly arrived marines in Iraq:

    “If your going to kill yourself, do it in the port-a-shitter: The Iraqis are contracted to clean them!”

    There are way too many out there that want to feed the irrational belief that our warriors are all weak minded victims in need of momma’s tit. Strong faith and mental maturity helps to deal with the demons a warrior shoves in a box when it comes time to open it. At least it does for me.

  17. Retired Warfighter says:

    The VA mental health system is an embarassment. We’re pouring tax dollars in it to save people who can’t be helped and in all fairness, were too mentally weak for the uniform in the first place. It’s also such a small amount of people that the money spent is really out of proportion. The vast majority of vets, REAL vets don’t need it. Why is the active duty military facing pay cuts while we subsidize the mentally unfit?

  18. Just Plain Jason says:

    Retarded Warfarter and Retarded Combat Dicksucker,
    There is so much stupid in what you wrote I am surprised that you idiots know how to use a computer. I have met guys like you so many times in my life it isn’t funny. I love guys like you, I would be willing to bet the closest you ever got to actual combat was hear about a mortar round landing somewhere close to you so you could fill out your paperwork for your CAB or your CAR. You may even have a stack of Bronze Stars that your troops earned for you. When a guy came back and was having a hard time rather than help him out you were…nah, fuck it. I think you are a couple wanna bees playing around. When I hear someone throwing around weakminded it is basically telling me they are too fucking lazy to be real leaders. I bet you were more worried about hands in pockets…dildos.

  19. Just Plain Jason says:

    Oh I bet you two clowns wish you could get back in now that Chandler is cleaning up the army huh?

  20. Momma J says:

    I do think that sometimes they’re too quick to label folks with PTSD. Just because you come out of a combat zone with insomnia or you’re less patient with people or you jump every time a car backfires or you’re uncomfortable in crowds doesn’t mean you have PTSD. It means you were a soldier who was in a war zone and became conditioned to respond in a certain way to certain stimuli. The VA is quick to slap a diagnosis on everybody, when some of these folks probably just need to talk to somebody once in a while instead of being numbed up with drugs and thrown into the system. And I DO think that the majority of kids today are soft and have had everything handed to them their entire lives. I think our generation was the last where if you screwed up, you just expected the ass whipping that was coming down the pike. Now it’s all about not damaging the little darlings’ “self-esteem” and teaching them that they can do anything they want to and they’re fabulous and amazing and super winners…Put that kind of upbringing in a combat environment and it forces either an awakening and maturing OR a mental breakdown. One of the two. Still, it’s exactly THIS attitude by the “suck it up and deal” older leadership that means people don’t take advantage of the literally HUNDREDS of military and civilian resources for counseling, crisis management, etc…Unfortunately, it’s not an “Army policy” thing, it’s a GENERATIONAL thing. Until such time as the leadership “rotates out”, I doubt much will change. That’s why our role as NCOs is so important – we FIGHT THE ESTABLISHMENT for our people’s LIVES when necessary. If you’re not willing to do that, you’re wrong.