THE GREATEST INJUSTICE – VETERANS’ SUICIDES.

I am angry today having heard about the suicide of veteran advocate Clay Hunt (see the article here).  This article was posted by a colleague on Facebook and it struck the same raw nerve that is hit every single time I hear of another veteran or soldier suicide (or worse, a veteran or soldier homicide/suicide).

Here is the comment I left in regard to this article:

This both saddens and sickens me. The enduring effects of war on our vets needs greater attention. The number of veteran suicides is alarming and a testament that the human soul does not bear the weight of combat without a heavy cost. As the mom of a disabled vet and a supporter of all the women and men in the military past and present let me say that the days of sending our soldiers into combat to solve world agendas has to end. Serving your country shouldn’t damage your psyche forever; but, ask any soldier who has served in a combat situation whether they will ever be the same person they were before they served and they cannot tell you they will be. It’s heartbreaking for the soldiers and for their friends and families. We have to start addressing the realities of the cost to veterans in a more comprehensive way. This is just another story amongst thousands of veterans who have committed suicide…when will we decide we have had enough?

These suicides are the greatest injustice of all. Our soldiers who do get to return home, often return home tortured.  Where are the necessary systems to help address the wear and tear being in combat places on their souls and their sanity? Statistics show that there is an epidemic of suicides amongst vets – particularly male vets in the 18-29 age range (see CBS News report).  Hello!!!! Is anyone listening??  The brave men and women who have served our country continue to be tormented as they cycle back into civilian life – so much so that they see no other alternative other than suicide.  We MUST do better than this.

My son Noah is a disabled veteran.  He doesn’t like it when I get on my soapbox and speak out against war.  But I am not speaking out against war, I am speaking up for veterans and their friends and families. These suicides are unacceptable losses.

I don’t want to hear another stupid argument about what minutia should or shouldn’t be cut in the budget or about what nonsensical thing Charlie Sheen said this week  – I want our national attention to be on our veterans before we lose another one.  We have a national crisis here that deserves our attention and our resources.

I say today, as forcefully, clearly and loudly as I can muster to all elected representatives in Washington, DC:

MAKE OUR VETERANS A TOP PRIORITY  – PARTICULARLY THEIR MENTAL HEALTH AND REINTEGRATION INTO SOCIETY.  OTHERWISE MAKE ROOM FOR MY SOAPBOX AND EXPECT TO BE HEARING A LOT MORE FROM ME BECAUSE I AM SICK OF THIS INJUSTICE AND I AM NOT GOING TO LOOK THE OTHER WAY AS VETS DIE – WE HAVE THEIR BLOOD ON OUR HANDS.

Yes, that is correct – I said it – don’t make me come over there to straighten you out.  As any of my ex-husbands will gladly tell you – you won’t like it.  I expect my government to do right by those men and women who selflessly did right by America…and I expect it today.

Day six hundred and forty-eight of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

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About Ms. C

I teach at NDSU...but I remain a student of life with all the enthusiasm that entails. My favorite saying is, "Sometimes you have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down." In the new forty that is what I am doing...building my wings.
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8 Responses to THE GREATEST INJUSTICE – VETERANS’ SUICIDES.

  1. concerned says:

    Yes, it is a growing concern but there are tens of thousands of suicides a year. The only ones I really see are the soldiers and how it has to be the war’s fault. Some people have problems, some just give up and some people can’t find a good outlet to deal with what is happening in their life. But instead of all this, the spotlight is on just the soldiers that fell through the cracks – why not look on a grander scale and help everyone else that is struggling with mental illness?

  2. komm gusto says:

    “the spotlight is on just the soldiers…”, Hey concerned, if it weren’t for the service men and women there wouldn’t be any country for “everyone else”.

    It’s more cost effective to let the vets’ kill themselves. Sad but that’s the reality.

  3. Bob says:

    I am a retired USAF colonel with over 21 years of service. I am a Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom veteran. We are breaking our brave young men and women, physically as well as mentally with no end in sight. Many of my friends served in Somalia, Haiti and Kosovo as well. All of us spent at least 6 months or more going through basic training and advanced training learning how to do what we do so well. However, we had a fraction of that time spent on assessing our mental state upon separating from the service (and that was a hell of a lot more than veterans from Vietnam or earlier conflicts received)

    PTSD manifests in many ways but almost always sometime AFTER the veteran has separated. There are few options for the veteran once they are out to get help. They may not even realize they need help.

    I myself had a hard time returning to the routine back at home. Back at my home station, they acted like I had gone on vacation versus spending time in a war zone. For my part, I couldn’t deal with the ridiculous minutia that had nothing to do with anything other than egos. At home, I had to relearn how to be a husband and father. Being deployed you get away from family plans, birthdays or anniversaries. It took me over a year to readjust to life back home. I was lucky.

    My special soapbox is what does it do to a young woman to have her body disfigured by combat in a society that judges women by their physical beauty? We have tons of historical data ranging from “shell shock” in World War I to the current “PTSD”. All of that data is based on male veterans. What will PTSD look like with a female veteran? How will she deal with the fact she can’t ever be a mother because of her war injuries? What happens to the wife whose husband leaves her because he can’t deal with her trauma? How does a young woman cope with men intimidated by her war experience?

  4. Andrew says:

    I can understand the difficulty in receiving care. I completed 4 tours between Iraq and Afghanistan and left the service. I spent 5 long years drinking to deal with my issues. AND THE BEST PART: the Veterans Affairs send me a letter saying that I was entitled to care for a period of 5 years after my separation from the service. I received that letter 6 years after I separated. I am a firm believer that our VA system has failed us.

  5. Stinky says:

    Abraham Lincoln would be very disappointed with how our War Vets are being treated these days. I am from a military family and there is a big difference between a War Vet and a person that served in the military during peace time. I could not imagine what it would be like to be locked in fight or flight for long periods of time. I do know that the men in my family that served during war have a higher sense of awareness, they hear and see everything in all directions and it is an automatic. They also have a very strong “startle” reflex. It is not that they are scared but they become instantly fully aware and ready to react. One of my Uncles tried to dull that with alcohol, doesn’t work. My Great Grandfather CWO served in the Navy during WWII on a Battleship that was a Marine Transport. That is delivering Marines to the frontline. Even 40 years after the war was over he always woke up to “Battle Stations”. To call any of them mentally ill is actually a crime against our War Vets. To say War is wrong to them might be an injustice. They have been in a strange land and circumstances that offered them no safe harbor so we on US soil would have safe harbor. They did not know safety when they were sleeping or in the John. I see it as they had to develop a heightened awareness. When I am in a room with (sober) War Vets, I feel absolutely safe and very relaxed because like I said…they see all and hear all. I sat in on Mindfullness classes for PTSD at the Seattle VA with Iraq and Afghanistan War Vets. I loved them all, I wished that some had a better family support system or could shut off the associations they had when they heard a child scream. Things that seem very normal day to day things to us can actually evoke very sad memories for them. I wished for so much for them. I believe in the mind body connection and I am not a granola. Why do they not give War Vets massages? They have had adrenaline running through their bodies for a very long time, this does not feel good. Give them all 1 hour massages 3 times a week and I mean the deep tissue ones. Give them relaxation of the body…can they know peace for an hour 3 times a week. To be totally relaxed, a feeling they had to deny themselves for a very long time. The mind will follow, I believe it will be forever changed but, it will follow. It will relax with your body. All experiences have an effect on a person. I know it is easy for me to sit in my chair and type this but, I believe I am a better person for knowing War Vets and being raised by them. I look at it as one of my strengths. My strength is because of their strength. I do not want to sound like a war machine but, there has always been war, there will always be war, even micro-organisms are at war. Also, Thank you all Afghan and Iraq Veterans, after 911 the US looked like victims to the world. We are not! When you have to draw boundries it is better to be known as an asshole than a victim right? (I am serious about the massages)

  6. Pingback: A call to action! « Veteran Suicides – America's Shame

  7. Lynn E. Carter says:

    On June 15, 2011 I had a stroke at the Veterans Eye Clinic in Fayetteville Arkansas. Instead of calling a ambulance to transport me to the Fayetteville Veterans Hospital ER Room via ambulance, they had my wife drive me in our car to the VA Hospital ER. They did a brain scan within an hour or so, but told us there was no doctors to read the MRI and that it had to be sent to ALABAMA to be read. We waited for over 5 hours for the results and in the meantime, I laid in urine and feces with no nurse assistance or care. (2 weeks prior to that stroke, I had s stroke with a blood clot on my brain which they used the clot busting medicine to disolve it, That was at Sparks Hospital here in Fort Smith, AR.) The experience at the VA Emergency Room took my dignity and I have been severly depressed ever since then. I have nightmares about going back there and enduring the same treatment I received that night. The trip to Fayetteville is 138 miles round trip and I do not get reimbursed for gas and mileage like some Veterans do. I’m not sure why that is. I have an honorable and almost perfect military record with six years of service. It seems that politicians and the media are trying to keep it under their hats and do not want to “deal” with it. We were told by local tv stations, and Times Record News Paper they wanted to carry the story, then each declined. We contacted Senator John Bozeman, Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Steve Womack from Arkansas and no word yet from them despite numerous phone calls to them. I have been waiting eight years for my VA disability benefits and am looking for any help I can get. I have contacted the President, the Vice President, and the Veterans Admin in Washington D.C. and still have heard nothing after months of waiting. For some reson this story is being kept quiet. I am asking for help – is there something you can do to help me get the word out so that other Veterans do not have to suffer the same treatment? We will soon have new Veterans coming home that will need help and I do not want them to get the treatment I received when they need it. Please help me.

    Lynn E. Carter
    2018 South O Street
    Fort Smith, Arkansas 72901
    479-431-7590

  8. Please kindly consider reviewing and/or commenting upon the following:

    Perhaps we have all learned too readily to live ‘too high off the hog’ so to speak and I for one must learn quickly to bear these burdens as part of my purpose on this earth as our Good Lord will and would have? This aforementioned admission on my part is not intended in any way shape or form to excuse the delinquincies and inexcussable irresponsible inactivities on the part of our elected representatives, our media reporters and those who would allegedly present themselves as perpetrators for that which is right for you and I. Regretfully, having ‘spoon fed’ the first thousand or so of candidates (i.e., alleged media reporters, political representatives, ministers, etc.) with this information, I am forced to limit this continuing crisis notification, to those possibly remaining honest reporters/politicians/ministers/etc., to the following (please contact me at your convenience in the event that you require further clarification, thank you):

    The following is a very brief history of the travesties in justice which only one veteran has had to sustain over the past 17 years, but is presented as a resonable example of what too many other veterans have had to sustain from successive Canadian governments. The critical and unanswered question remains: “If this is the manner in which successive Canadian governments (including the present one) have treated men and women who have placed their lives on the line for these same Canadian governments, to what extent are these same travesties in justice being forced on all Canadian citizens with or without their knowledege of these same unlawful transgressions?”

    The following introduces a Canadian veteran who has unfortunately encountered far too many delayed obligations of successive Canadian governments in attempting to maintain survival in this country. This individual completed his army reserve basic training, graduating not much more than 2 and a half years prior to the late PM Rt. Hon. P.E. Trudeau invoking the War Measures Act. This same graduation occured some 23 years prior to this same veteran successfully completing his army reserve officer training, which was followed by just less than 5 years of service in the Canadian Navy where he trained as a Combat Systems Engineer (CSE or 044A). The third and final session of this veteran’s military training included basic officer training at Chilliwack, B.C., second language training at St. Jean, Que. and a year in Esquimalt, followed by just less than 3 years service at the Canadian naval base in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

    While training in Esquimalt, B.C., this veteran was billeted to the HMCS Qu’Appelle where he injured his spinal cord at three levels subsequent to a fall in the showers onboard that same warship. As this accident occurred while away from that warship’s homeport (towards the end of 3 months of naval exercises in the South Pacific along with the Australian, Japanese and American navies), this veteran was confined to his rack and provided with pain killers until returning to Esquimalt some 5 days later where he was rushed by ambulance to the base hospital in Esquimalt. Other than being supplied with additional pain killers and 3 or 4 brief sessions of physiotherapy, this veteran’s real injuries were not treated at that base hospital, nor at the base hospital in Halifax, where he was shipped as part of his next phase of training some 2 months later. Upon release from the Canadian Navy in 1993, this veteran was assessed by a qualified medical general practioner (GP: Dr. R.A. Killeen), in Lower Sackville, NS, who immediately identified a C5/C6 radiculopathy (occuring from an upper spinal cord injury) which had resulted from the accidental fall onboard the HMCS Qu’Appelle. This same GP referred this veteran for assessment initially to a diagnostic service in Halifax (i.e., spinal cord MRI), an orthopedic surgeon, and an internal medicine specialist. All of these graduates and post-graduates in medicine agreed that the three levels of spinal cord injuries (i.e., C5/C6; T11/T12 & L2/L3) most likely were the result of this veteran’s previously described accidental fall when serving onboard the HMCS Qu’Appelle.

    Subsequently, in March 1996 this veteran applied for a disability pension with the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (note: initially this pension was applied for in 1994 but, after identifying at least one blatant example where the Veterans Review and Appeal Board [VRAB] deliberately misled authorities, the actual application through the Bureau of Pensioners’ Advocates in Halifax, NS, was delayed until March 1996; refer to Table A at the end of this description). The VRAB ruled on three separate occasions against this veteran’s application for a disability pension within the first year of application (refer to Table A). This veteran was subsequently forced to bring the VRAB into the Trial Division of the Federal Court (Fed. Ct.) which ruled that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board (refer to Fed. Ct. case T-157-98).

    The allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel ruled twice more within the next year against this veteran’s claim and were brought again before the Trial Division which ruled again that the matter be referred back to a differently-constituted panel, while additionally awarding costs to this veteran (Fed. Ct. case T-2137-99). This next allegedly differently-constituted VRAB panel failed to provide a decision within the next year, indicating their Modus Operandi of acting above and beyond both the legislated laws of Canada and the authority of the legislated authorities in the Trial Division of the Federal Court, forcing this veteran to file a motion with the Trial Division of “contempt of court”.

    While the Trial Division would not award this motion by citing the VRAB in contempt, it did award costs to this veteran, even though none were requested, and supplied a step-by-step procedure to obtain justice in this case. With both no legal training, nor the necessary funds to engage the services of a legal professional to represent this veteran’s case, this veteran attempted to bring the VRAB before the Trial Division again, after being denied a disability pension with the VRAB’s next (and sixth) decision, this veteran consequently lost in this fourth decision of the Federal Court Trial Division (Fed. Ct. case #T-67-03), in spite of providing professional testimony from a neurosurgeon, an orthopedic surgeon and a general practitioner with more than 35 years of experience (not to mention the several cases cited in jurisprudence which support this veteran’s claims).

    Note that none of these submissions by professional graduates of medicine were contradicted by testimonies from similar medical professionals on the part of the VRAB, yet the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. ruled against this veteran’s claims. This veteran was encouraged to re-approach the Trial Division based upon a lady who won her case in the Appeal Division in Ontario after using this veteran’s first two cases (i.e., T-157-98 & T-2137-99) as precedents. To render such a re-approach at such a late stage in the events, this veteran was encouraged to concentrate on his lower back injuries (i.e. T11/T12 & L2/L3) …. thereby, allegedly implying settlement for the upper back injuries …. even though such a settlement had never occured to that date.

    The Trial Division ruled again in the veteran’s favor (Fed. Ct. case #T-401-05) and referred the matter back again to a differently-constituted panel of the VRAB board. That same board ruled on 4 more separate occasions against this veteran’s application for a disability pension, forcing the matter back to the Trial Division for an attempted ultimate resolution (Fed. Ct. case #T-617-09). The VRAB fully exhausted the total legislated number of decisions to which they were entitled in this veteran’s application, recognizing that an award of a disability pension to this veteran would mean financial ruin and subsequent political suicide for the government allegedly ‘in charge’ at the time of such a decision, given the tens of thousands of other veterans, their spouses and dependants who remained deprived of such benefits.

    The Hon. Mr. Justice Phelan (Fed. Ct. case #T-617-09) decided: “THIS COURT’S JUDGMENT is that the application for judicial review is granted and the Appeal Board’s decision is quashed.” Unfortunately, such a ruling did nothing more than refer the same matter back to the Respondent (e.g., Veterans’ Affairs), thus prolonging the history of this veteran’s claims and thereby moving these same claims from the ridiculous to the sublime, as far as the actual service of justice to this veteran is concerned.

    While Canadian governments over the past 80+ years have continued to disregard their legislated obligations to veterans of the CF and Mounted Police, along with their spouses and dependants, to what extent do you believe these same governments are allegedly meeting their legislated obligations to the remainder of Canadian citizens?

    On top of all of this, this veteran has had to represent himself in the Trial Division of the Fed. Ct. on no less than 6 separate occasions with all of these occassions applying to his claims with the VRAB [refer to Fed. Ct. case numbers: T-157-98, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 1999 CanLII 7476 (F.C.) or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/1999/1999canlii7476/1999canlii7476.html; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2001 FCT 793 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2001/2001fct793/2001fct793.html; T-2137-99, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2003 FCT 12 (CanLII) or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2003/2003fct12/2003fct12.html; T-67-03, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2004 FC 996 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2004/2004fc996/2004fc996.html; T-401-05, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2005 FC 1470 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2005/2005fc1470/2005fc1470.html; and T-617-09, Bradley v. Canada (Attorney General), 2011 FC 309 or http://www.canlii.org/en/ca/fct/doc/2011/2011fc309/2011fc309.html.

    In all of these decisions (including the last two; T-401-05 & T-617-09) except one (i.e., T-67-03), the Hon. Justices supported this applicant’s claims and rejected the VRAB’s decisions. As the greater burden of factual evidence from both graduates and post-graduates in the fields of medicine, applicable to this veteran’s spinal cord injuries, supported his claims along with the greater majority of the above-listed decisions, who but a politician who allegedly represents his electorate didn’t see ‘adequate electoral returns’ in seriously supporting this applicant’s claims, would ignore these facts and not attempt to ensure this veteran receive something resembling the actual service of justice …. not to mention the adherence to legislated laws by a Fed. gov’t dept. (i.e., VRAB)?

    The Bureau of Pensioners’ Advocates presented this veteran’s case to the VRAB on July 6, 2011 and the VRAB provided a decision applicable to this same latest presentation of this applicant’s case dated July 5, 2011 (i.e., one day prior to the actual presentation of this veteran’s claims to the VRAB). Such pre-emptive decisions and complete lack of fair and due process, has been the ‘ear mark’ of the VRAB’s alleged handling of this veteran’s claims over the past 17 years …. not to mention the similar manner in which this same Fed. gov’t dept. has ignored it’s legislated obligations to other veterans, their spouses and dependants.

    History has been written, how more often do we have to ignore these blatant travesties in the service of justice before learning lessons which apply to all Canadian citizens?

    Yours truly,

    Brian C. Bradley, Calgary, AB email: bcbradl5y@inbox.com

    Table A: Applicant’s Claims History with VRAB

    Date Description

    13-Jul-90 Applicant was an active member in the Canadian Forces when the accident occurred onboard the HMCS Qu’Appelle
    22-Mar-96(1) Applicant submitted Application for Disability Pensions including Declarations
    1-Jan-99 Justice Blais: Reasons for Order (refer to Docket T-157-98)
    18-Aug-99 Dr. Coady/VRAB letter dated August 18, 1999
    13-Jul-01 Justice MacKay: ‘Reasons for Order’ (refer to Docket T-2137-99)
    22-Mar-02 Dr. Killeen/VRAB letter dated March 22, 2000
    6-Jan-02 Bradley / Federal Court of Canada Correspondence
    9-Jan-03 Order from the Hon. Mr. Justice Martineau
    28-Jul-04 Applicant submitted Application for Disability Pension including Declaration; Note: BOARD’s and the Minister’s latest decisions of this date and March 13, 2006, as well as their previously noted decisions on this matter, ignore the medical evidence before them as it has erroneously done in other cases (e.g., Rivard v. Canada, 2001; Schott v. Canada, 2001; and Smith v. Canada, 2001)
    Jan. 06/06 MRI Spinal Cord Report
    04 Feb. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada letter
    20 Feb. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada letter
    22 Feb. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada letter
    01 Mar. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada letter
    03 Mar. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada letter
    13 Mar. 06 BOARD finally decided to comply with the Hon. Mr. Justice O’Keefe’s Order of October 28, 2005
    13 Mar. 06 Bradley/Federal Court of Canada / Appeals Division letter dated March 13, 2006
    13 Mar. 06 Minister of Veterans Affairs decision
    24-Jan-07 Prothonotary’s Order (Roger R. Lafrenière)
    14-Jun-07 VRAB/Bradley letter excusing their next delay
    29-Jun-07 Judge’s Direction (Michel MJ Shore)
    5-Aug-08 VRAB denies applicant’s disability pension
    15-Mar-11 Order from the Hon. Mr. Justice Phelan
    5-Jul-11 VRAB’s decision denies applicant’s claim for a disability pension
    6-Jul-11 Bureau of Pensioners’ Advocates presents applicant’s case to the VRAB

    Note: VRAB’s blatant lack of both any and all ideas of fair and due process, are exemplfied by their last decision (i.e., 5-Jul-11) dated the day before the Bureau of Pensioners’ Advocates were given the opportunity to present this veteran’s case to the VRAB (i.e., 6-Jul-11) .,,,,, thus exemplifiying the VRAB’s lack of both the allegedly legislated intent and spirit when deciding upon this applicant’s claims.

    (1) After two years (1994-1996) of denial by VA, despite investigations which revealed instances of their misleading both judicial and due process.

    Why must this veteran’s case (and/or that of all other veterans, their spouses and dependants) be ‘pushed’ to the Appeal Division of the Fed. Ct. (or ultimately to the Supreme Court), before a ruling and/or decision is provided which forces the Fed. gov’t dept. to recognize all of it’s legislated obligations to all veterans, their spouses and dependants, while meeting both the intent and spirit of these same legislated obligations by granting the claims of these same citizens and/or veterans, is provided? Must these matters be referred to the over-burdened activities of the Auditor General’s office, for adjudication and/or review prior to receiving the only method of obtaining both guaranteed adherence to and recognitiion of these same aforementioned legislated obligations?

    ‘We are all one’, lest we forget how much we really pay

    http://sites.google.com/site/bcbrad3evennow/lethal-environmental-threats

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.” Burke

    “Check the weather when you venture out’; check the faces when you venture in.” Chinese Proverb

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