PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

'22 a day no more': Marine's mission to end veteran suicide goes viral

9/15/21 ... /11023163/

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "We're burying 20 plus veterans a day," said Michael Howard. "It needs to be zero."

Sergeant Howard served with the U.S. Marine Corps. Over eight years, he spent time in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Every single day you were going to work, and you were surrounded by people that can relate to you," he said. "But then you get out and you lose your mission, you lose your sense of purpose, and then, you're just lost."

Howard has walked down his own dark path before finding the light. He conquered addiction and has been sober for four years. And even though he still battles the demons of post-traumatic stress disorder, he does not do it alone.

"The joke at my house is that he's a four-legged human," said Howard about his service dog, Cooper.

Howard received his dog at no cost from Alpha Bravo Canine, a Philadelphia-based service that trains and donates pups to veterans in need. Since then, his life has changed in every way imaginable.

"The first nightmare I had where this dog came up and woke me up out of it... it's the same bond that I have with my brothers that I served with, even more so because he's there every day," he added.

Shortly after becoming best friends with Cooper, Howard decided to make social media videos to spread the word to other veterans. He thought his short productions might reach a few people in the local community. He was wrong.

"One thing that I always try to do is create a community," he said. "And luckily, I fell into one on TikTok."

Under the name, @coop_n_mike, Howard's raw and emotional videos have garnered more than two million likes and over 240,000 followers. His biography reads, "22 A Day; NO MORE!"

"I say all the time in my videos, there's nothing special about me to get out of the hole I was in," he said. "I just realized I have one life. I have brothers and sisters who gave theirs that didn't get the choice. I have the choice."

Howard exercises that choice by making visits to the Delaware County Veterans Memorial. First dedicated in 2013, the solemn site recognizes fallen members of the county community who served with the United States military.

"I come here literally daily," he said, "First and foremost to reflect but to shoot beautiful content that touches the people I'm trying to reach."

"22 a Day" is the a generally accepted estimate of how many veterans lose their lives to suicide each day. It has become a fundraising effort by the Til Valhalla project, which sells apparel with the intention of raising money to reduce veteran suicide. They deliver memorial plaques to Gold Star families. Howard, who is one of their brand ambassadors, has no plans to stop making videos until the number 22 becomes zero.

"This generation of veterans is going to save each other. Nobody else is going to do it for us," he said. "If we want our brothers and sisters to stop ending up in boxes, we have to do it. We have to fight."

To learn more about Mike Howard and Cooper's adventures, follow them on social media @coop_n_mike. Click here to find a list of resources for veterans in the Philadelphia area :
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

Moral Injury Causes Veteran Suicide. The Media Is Making It Worse.

9/15/21 ... 6126a37f74

For veterans, the greatest toll of the war in Afghanistan occurred far from the battlefield. There have been 30,177 active duty personnel and veterans who have died by suicide since 9/11, more than four times the toll of 7,057 of their brothers and sisters who were killed in post-9/11 combat operations. The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan and the U.S.’s frenzied evacuations caused a spike in calls to veteran suicide hotlines. For example, the hotline of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs received a record 35,000 calls between August 13 and 29. The most calls, 2,570, occurred on the day the Taliban took Kabul.

The media, politicians, and the American public are contributing to this veteran suicide crisis by compounding moral injury—a major factor in veteran suicide. Moral injury can be defined as the damage to one’s conscience or moral compass that occurs following events that violate one’s ethical or moral code. Moral injury results from trauma that shakes the foundations of one’s moral code of right and wrong.

For veterans, moral injury usually results from the horrors of war. After all, activities like killing would be criminal if conducted on U.S. streets, but are legal for combatants in war. The fog of war can easily mask ordinary ideas of right and wrong.

The media’s portrayal of the war in Afghanistan as an abject failure, and the politicization of the U.S. withdrawal, contributes to many veterans’ sense of moral transgression. Americans must change the narrative of the war in Afghanistan to protect our veterans from tragedy. To avoid betraying our veterans, the U.S. must also fulfill our promise to protect our Afghan allies.

The narrative of failure in Afghanistan by the media and politicians has contributed to many veterans’ sense of moral injury. In psychological terms, this occurs through “perpetration” and “betrayal.” Perpetration includes performing, failing to prevent, witnessing, or learning about acts that shake one’s moral beliefs. Betrayal involves transgressions against one’s moral beliefs that result in shame, grief, meaninglessness, and remorse. For veterans, moral injury can manifest as anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, anger, sorrow, remorse, grief, shame, bitterness, or moral confusion. Moral injury is related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has similar symptoms, and is also associated with perpetration and betrayal. However, the diagnoses are distinct, and symptoms of patients suffering from moral injury can fall below the threshold for a PTSD diagnosis.

To avoid further moral injury to veterans, the narrative surrounding the war in Afghanistan must change. The media must make a clear-eyed assessment of the war’s successes and failures. First, discussion of the war must connect to the purpose of the U.S. mission. For the military, part of building mental resilience is understanding the strategic interests and moral imperatives that drive why we fight. Many veterans suffering from trauma have become disconnected from the higher purpose and strategic objectives of their military service.

In the chaos of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, it was easy to lose sight of the larger interests that led us into war in the wake of 9/11. U.S. forces swiftly removed the Taliban from power in 2001 and put an end to their safe harbor for terrorists. They degraded Al Qaeda, killed Osama Bin Laden, and kept the U.S. safe from another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. These successes should not be forgotten.

Second, coverage of the war in Afghanistan must include how U.S. military efforts advanced U.S. values. An entire generation of Afghans knows freedom that they never knew before 2001. For twenty years, women were able to attend school, work, and improve their country. Some 37 percent of adolescent Afghan girls could read as of 2017—a skill that these girls will retain and teach others. Infant mortality has decreased by 50% since 2001. Child mortality fell by 29% between 2003 and 2015. GDP per capita has increased. Immunization coverage, access to healthcare, hospital function, and training of healthcare workers has also vastly improved. The American University of Afghanistan continues to hold online classes — even under Taliban rule. The U.S. military built infrastructure that will continue to improve Afghans’ quality of life. Publicizing and emphasizing these achievements can help servicemembers reconnect with the broader purpose of their mission.

Americans can also help veterans by honoring our promises to help Afghan allies. Many veterans are distraught by the U.S.’s failure to evacuate and protect Afghans who are under threat for assisting U.S. efforts. For many veterans, this is not just a national failing, but a personal, moral one. Many veterans personally promised their interpreters and allies that the U.S. would protect them. For the nation to break its promise is exactly the type of betrayal that leads to moral injury. Many veterans are wracked with guilt at their inability to keep this personal promise, and wondering if they could have done more—the type of perpetration that leads to further moral injury. Protecting our Afghan allies will save our veterans as well.

The stories we tell ourselves shape our own moral image, collectively and individually. The media, politicians and all Americans must change the narrative surrounding the war in Afghanistan to prevent moral injury to our veterans and further tragedy. The war was not an unadulterated failure and should not be sensationalized as such. Americans should assess the war honestly, based on national objectives, values, and achievements. Americans should pressure their representatives to honor our promises to our Afghan allies, and the media should keep this issue in the headlines. And Americans should celebrate the successes of which veterans should be proud.
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

Strong relationships best defense against risk of suicide

9/13/21 ... of_suicide

Most often, and particularly during September’s national observance as Suicide Prevention Month, numbers are used to convince Americans that suicide is a major public health concern.

It’s a sad story to tell with more than 47,500 people dying by suicide each year in the U.S. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S., and the second leading cause of death among young Americans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But, for Skip Johnson, the Army Materiel Command’s Suicide Prevention Officer, the bigger story behind combatting suicide involves more than numbers. When Johnson shares his story about the importance of suicide prevention with AMC employees, it includes fighting stress, depression and anxiety with terms like: building connections, encouraging a sense of belonging, communicating and listening, knowing people’s motivations, developing coping skills and changing the narrative.

Johnson’s story fits in well with the 2021 themes used for National Suicide Prevention Month by the Department of Defense – “Connect to Protect – Support Is Within Reach” – and by the Army – “It’s the Everyday, Little Things That Matter.”

“Connectedness among community organizations and social institutions is vital in combating the rising rate of suicide,” he said. “But the goal is not only to increase the number of social ties or connections among persons or groups. It’s also about building relationships among individuals, families, co-workers and friend groups. It’s about giving people hope.”

The Army’s suicide rate first surpassed the national average in 2008, when the Army suicide rate was 20.2 per 100,000 Soldiers compared with an overall U.S. civilian rate of 19.2 per 100,000 people, he said. A 2020 DOD report shows the total Army (all three components) had 258 suicides in 2019 and 317 in 2020. Up to 70% of people who commit suicide tell someone first, studies show.

“The fact is that anyone can get depression. But it is a treatable condition and there is always hope,” Johnson said.

“Recognizing the need for treatment can bring new meaning to someone struggling with difficult circumstances. If you or someone you know is struggling with emotional distress, you are not alone. Feeling sad, blue or hopeless? Lost interest in things you used to enjoy? Do you suffer from body aches and pains with no known physical cause? If you know anyone who might be experiencing signs of depression or have concerns about their wellbeing, help them get the help they need.”

Life often brings hardships, but supportive connections defined by trust and respect provide hope to help overcome those hardships, and lead to increases in positive health and well-being, resulting in a lower risk of suicidal behavior, he said.

“Recent reports from the Veterans Administration show an increase in the number of requests for help from veterans who are having suicidal thoughts,” Johnson said. “The withdrawal from Afghanistan has left many veterans with a more complicated ending than some anticipated – and possibly more serious long-term mental health consequences.

“As we move forward our message to veterans should be, ‘Be proud of what you did, because you have kept Afghanistan safe over the last 20 years. You have kept Americans safe.’ We should express to them that what they did is of value and, if they are having problems, we need to show them the resources that are available to get them through this difficult time.”

Current events in Afghanistan are not the only issue causing anxiety and depression among Americans, Johnson said. Concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce isolation due to the need for teleworking and social distancing due to the pandemic, and anxiety associated with disinformation have all contributed to the nation’s overall mental health. In addition, major weather catastrophes, economic worries and home-life issues can lead to mental health problems and a higher suicide risk.

“Social connectedness and caring connections are critical,” Johnson said. “But COVID has caused us to limit in-person contact with others, leading to feelings of isolation and abandonment. Even during COVID-19, there are many ways to look out for each other, build cohesion and stay connected. Social connectedness and a sense of belonging improve physical, mental and emotional well-being. Now more than ever, it is vital to stay socially connected while physically distancing.”

AMC is following the DOD’s and Army’s lead in encouraging positive mental health by focusing on employees holistically, by arming them with the positive, protective factors of overall physical fitness, mental strengthening, social skills, spiritual strength and resilience. AMC’s Suicide Prevention Program is based around year-round activities and training that encourages positive affirmations, self-care and self-awareness, connectedness and work-life balance.

“We are teamed up with Commander's Ready and Resilient Council and local agencies to provide employees with training opportunities that promote connectedness, develop coping and problem-solving skills, encourage quality of life activities and provide resources to improve employee health,” Johnson said.

Sustaining a strong and resilient AMC workforce, he said, is achieved by building a positive, caring and optimistic command climate. That resiliency spills over into employees’ personal life, improving their overall wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them.

“The goal is not simply to increase the number of social ties or connections among persons or groups, but to enhance availability of and access to supportive resources,” Johnson said. “Increasing connectedness among personnel, families and communities -- including service, funding and advocacy communities -- is likely to have a universal as well as a targeted effect on decreasing the risk of suicidal behavior.”

Key indicators vary as to who might be at a high risk for suicide, Johnson said, making it difficult for even trained mental health professionals to prevent. That’s why building relations – at home, at work and within everyday activities – is so crucial.

“During these uncertain times, everyone maybe affected, and there are so many risk factors that can impact individuals to different degrees,” Johnson said.

“At work, the question for every supervisor and every employee is: How well do you know the people you work with? The key is to create an environment where people feel a sense of belonging by communicating in ways that make them feel valued and their contributions meaningful. The end state is to remove social barriers to seeking help so persons contemplating or planning suicide are less likely to engage in life-threatening behaviors.”

Other strategies to maintain positive mental health include simplifying and organizing everyday life, limiting alcohol and drug consumption, focusing on others through volunteering, joining a support group, maintaining regular exercise and eating a healthy diet.

Those experiencing an emotional crisis or who are experiencing suicidal thoughts can connect 24/7 with free, confidential services at the Veteran Crisis Line, 1-0800-273-8255, or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-263-8255.The DOD Office of Health Affairs offers anonymous mental health self-assessments can be taken at and Military OneSource, 1-800-342-9647, provides support to all service members and their families. AMC’s Suicide Prevention Program can be reached by emailing

Editor’s Note: As part of Team Redstone’s recognition of September as National Suicide Prevention Month, Redstone’s Employee Assistance Program is offering a weekly virtual session related to suicide prevention. Upcoming sessions include: Intentional Spirituality, Sept. 22, noon to 1 p.m., Presentation by Chaplain (LTC) Charles H. Lahmon, Redstone Garrison chaplain, Link:; and Suicide and Trauma: Understanding the Impact on Emotional Health, Sept. 28, Noon to 1 p.m., Presented by Shannon Laframboise, Clinical Director, Crisis Services of North Alabama, Link:
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

I'm an army veteran whose puppy eased my PTSD. Now I own a dog-training school — here's what my job is like.

9/15/21 ... tsd-2021-9

Dave Shade is a former paratrooper who now owns a dog-training company, At Attention Dog Training.
Shade's career began when he was fostering dogs and couldn't pay for the training, so he learned how to do it himself.
This is what Shade's job is like, as told to freelance writer Susan Johnston Taylor.

Dave Shade is a former paratrooper who now owns a dog-training school, At Attention Dog Training. This is his story, as told to freelance writer Susan Johnston Taylor.

I always wanted a dog, but my mom didn't think I'd take care of it.

At 19, I was serving in Afghanistan and our lead vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Usually, I drove that vehicle. But on that day, a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors" decided that my crew would go for hot chow and a shower instead. The guy who was in my seat — my friend Private Jordan Goode — died from his wounds.

Another time, our platoon got ambushed and a rocket-propelled grenade went screaming across my vehicle. We got hit with improvised explosive devices several more times. I blew out my knees and bit the sides of my tongue off.

After serving for four years, I came home to Pennsylvania with a Purple Heart — and a case of post-traumatic stress disorder. The army trains us not to have empathy. Numbing myself made me an effective fighter, but it came at a cost. PTSD feels like you're in a dead dark pit with no one to talk to and no lifelines.

Now that I was grown up and living in an apartment by myself, I finally got a dog. Lulu was a boxer puppy, maybe 10 weeks old at the time. The very first night, I woke up to the smell of puppy poop, and I was on my knees cleaning it up. But a bond formed between us. Lulu taught me to control my anger. She taught me how to live again, how to love again, how to feel again.

A few months later, my then-girlfriend (future wife) moved in, and we volunteered at an animal shelter. I was going to school for environmental biology, which I thought I'd do for a while before pivoting to do something with dogs, maybe in my 50s.

We were fostering dogs, and I wanted to help the dogs with behavioral issues but I didn't know what I was doing. We reached out to all these different dog trainers in our area, but I didn't have much money and was left on my own.

When we adopted a second dog named Sammy from a shelter, I started researching how to become a dog trainer and start my own training business. I was so sold on the idea, in fact, that I dropped out of my senior year of college to pursue it.

US animal shelters are overcrowded, and roughly 390,000 dogs are euthanized each year. I want to take a sledgehammer to that number. For about half of the dogs that get re-homed, it's due to problems like unexpected health conditions, aggression, or other behavior issues.

That's why I became a dog trainer, and since 2015, At Attention Dog Training has trained more than 5,000 dogs. With nine employees, it's still going strong.

I discovered I'm limited by about a 30-minute driving circumference and an inability to realistically franchise, which made it hard to scale, so I decided to take our training online with a second company, PupCamp — something I'd come to appreciate when the pandemic hit.

When that happened, we used our facility to film lessons. One of my employees had just gotten a puppy named Gemma, so we filmed 60 puppy lessons with Gemma as the star. We soon added other content to keep customers around after the initial training — videos on how to solve common behavioral problems, a veterinary behaviorist talking about separation anxiety, and a 30-lesson first aid course.

We now have more than 100 lessons, and I have to keep time for myself and my own dogs as we grow.

I usually get up around 7 a.m and take the dogs for their quick morning walk. It's one of my favorite times of the day because I get to spend one-on-one with each of my three dogs: Otis, Sam, and Sarge. It's quiet and provides time for me to think about business and my team members.

As a professional dog trainer, it's hard to find time to train my own dogs. So, lately I try to set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day working with my own dogs to keep their skills fresh!

I also carry a notepad around with me at all times, because I'm not the most organized person but moments of creativity — and ideas for new courses — happen all the time.

I spend a lot of my time now doing meetings, especially on
, talking with different experts or investors. I also spend time creating partnerships so we can offer subscriber exclusive discounts with a toy company, an insurance company, and a food company. I spend time talking with PR people and filming new courses. We use my dogs and clients' dogs for the videos.

Lulu died last year when we were filming, but her work lives on in the work I do. When I was in the army, there was always a mission we were accomplishing. Lulu gave me a mission again.

Keeping track of the next walk, meal, or potty break added structure to my life. The bond that developed between us was powerful, and it helped me recover from PTSD. I believe dogs have the power to heal us from trauma through their friendship and guardianship.
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

Veteran group working to prevent military suicides

1 ... y-suicides

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — September is Suicide Prevention Month, and one of the groups most at risk for suicide is military members and veterans.

In the past 20 years, an estimated 30,177 active duty service members or veterans have died by suicide. That's nearly four times the amount who have died in combat, according to a study by Brown University.

Veterans have faced a lot of potential triggers lately, from the chaos in Afghanistan to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, to the continued isolation caused by the pandemic.

In these challenging times, a Kansas City-based organization called Team Fidelis is working to spread the word about its resources to help prevent military suicides.

Jason Rudolph first found Team Fidelis a few years ago, more than two decades after he left the Army.

He had deployed to several countries, but he said it's his time in Somalia that haunts him the most.

"In a combat situation, I mean, you're trying to make sure that you come home," he said. "So there are things that you will see and you have to do to make sure that you come home."

His mental health reached a breaking point in 2019.

"I went to a dark place, not wanting to live or anything like that," he said. "And I almost committed suicide."

That's where Team Fidelis came in.

Rudolph said Daniel Brazzell, executive director of Team Fidelis, immediately came to his rescue, talking to him and introducing him to additional resources for help.

Brazzell has his own history of mental health challenges. After 10 years in the Marine Corps, he was medically discharged for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Years later, he wanted to help fellow veterans find ways to cope. That's when he helped form Team Fidelis.

"The biggest thing that helped me was helping other veterans," Brazzell said.

Through outreach events, Team Fidelis helps veterans find a sense of belonging.

"We need to get veterans back engaged in the community, they need to get out, we need to get them out of isolation," Brazzell said. "We need to get them connected to each other and kind of being able to heal each other."

Rudolph now works as a Veteran Navigator for the organization, helping fellow vets learn about the resources available to them.

He also hopes to encourage more veterans to talk about their emotions and find a way to release the shame, fear, or guilt that they may be feeling.

"You cannot bottle it up. That's the biggest thing, you cannot leave it bottled up," he said. "And it took me years upon years to learn that."

It's important to know the warning signs of suicide:

Isolation - someone considering suicide may withdraw from family and friends.
Change in habits
Talking about feeling hopeless or having no purpose
Talking about being a burden to others
Extreme mood swings

If family or friends notice these behaviors, take action:

Don't leave the person alone
Ask them if they're OK or need help
Let them share what they're comfortable sharing, but don't pressure them to share more
If they have a firearm in the house, offer to hold onto it until they're feeling better
Encourage them to seek professional help
Help them find a community of other veterans to talk to

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Team Fidelis can be reached at 816-301-4140 or through its website.

The Team Fidelis website also has an extensive list of resources for veterans, including assistance for physical and mental health, housing and legal aid.
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

How retraining retired racehorses is helping veterans in Ipswich cope with PTSD and integrate back into life after service

9/18/21 ... /100456518

Isaac Adams's mental health journey since leaving the Australian Defence Force has been slow, but eight years on he's at ease with his experiences and found a way to help other veterans cope after service.

The 32-year-old from Ipswich joined the army in 2008 at 18 years of age.

He served for five years as a UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) operator and in that time was deployed to Afghanistan.

He voluntarily discharged in 2013 but upon leaving struggled to process what he had been through and found it difficult to integrate back into civilian life.

He also found he was not alone.

"I found it very hard to just go outside some days. I really was quite depressed," Mr Adams said.

"I saw a lot of guys that were medicated and … doing endless amounts of therapy, but I hadn't seen any really strong examples of guys coming out the other side."

Mr Adams was seeing a psychologist and trying different mental health therapies, but said it was only when he started working with horses that he began to cope.

In 2016 he found horsemanship and it changed his life.

"Now … It's really nice to be able to go to university and have my life, and be free of all those sort of heavy feelings and sadness and anger that I used to carry around."

Links between horsemanship and psychology

Mr Adams was living in Sydney and searching for alternative mental health therapies when he saw a video of someone working with an ex-racehorse in a way he had never seen before.

He bought a horse that was destined for the knackery and was put in touch with trainer Scott Brodie, who taught him horsemanship.

"I was so motivated and mesmerised by the horse that I just seized that opportunity. I had to be a part of it."

Mr Brodie is the director of the Thoroughbred and Veteran Welfare Alliance, which runs the horsemanship program.

Where traditional "equine therapy" uses well-adjusted horses to help people, Mr Brodie's program uses traumatised thoroughbreds, so that the healing works both ways.

Both groups are taught to fight against anxiety and fear, and learn to trust and communicate with each other.

"It puts the onus back on you and it makes you realise how much [we] as humans we project when we communicate," Mr Adams said.

"I projected a lot of anger and a lot of dissatisfaction … when you're around a horse they are very, very receptive and they're very good at reading people.

"If you don't have that in check … and you don't have those insights about yourself, you'll have a very hard time working with them.

"So the best way for me to communicate with a horse was to sort myself out."

Mr Adams said as he dealt with his own feelings, the stronger his connection with the horses became.

"I found very strong links between horsemanship and psychology," he said.

"A lot of the work I was doing with my psychologist, there were direct parallels and so that really helped me to go from a theory to a practical sort of application."

Mr Adams said the parallels between the strict regimented lives of veterans and racehorses provide the perfect base for them to work and heal together.

"It's a systematic process … and the way that you work with a thoroughbred in getting them to step back from their hyper-vigilant, hyper-sensitive sort of way of going, is the same way you un-soldier, or undo some of the institutionalisation that's given to you when you're in the military.

"I'm of the belief through my own experiences and working with lots of other veterans that that key component needs to be a part of these programs."

Sharing knowledge and healing

Mr Adams is now using what he learnt about himself through horsemanship to help other veterans and children of those who serve.

He started his own Healing with Horsemanship program at Ipswich, west of Brisbane.

It is funded by the Ipswich RSL sub-branch and once a fortnight veterans and children of those who serve meet at the Pine Mountain Equestrian Centre to work with Mr Adams's horses.

Sarah Webb served in the Army from 2000 to 2012 and had deployments to Timor-Leste, Iraq and Afghanistan.

She said there was not enough support when she discharged and is still dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

"I hit rock bottom … I went down really fast," she said.

"I found the therapy, it helped a little bit … but I didn't find talking to these people that weren't in the military very helpful because they just didn't understand.

"I saw so much death and destruction, to this day I get triggered all the time."

Ms Webb has been to two of Mr Adams's horsemanship sessions and said she already felt a difference.

"When I finish the session I'm quite drained which I know that it's working because I've had to use my head quite a lot.

"My partner says it's been a really good change for me … she reckons it's seen a change in my anger, [I'm] a bit more calm and how to approach my kids differently.

"There's just something with horses that just makes you really calm and makes you think about what you're giving off to the horse, and makes you think about how to have your emotions in check.

"It should be something that you can choose between, either going to talk to someone or doing the horse therapy."

Sixteen-year-old Alanah Wheeler's dad is in the army.

She said coming to the horsemanship sessions relieved some of her anxiety.

"It takes away your problems … to know that you can actually connect with them through emotions.

"When you're working with horses, you're just not thinking about anything else but trying to join up with that horse and communicate."

Plans to expand

The Healing with Horsemanship program at Ipswich is in its early days, but there are already plans to expand.

Mr Adams said he has had interest from NDIS, Queensland Police Service and the charity Legacy.

"Now being able to give that back to the community and share my learning experiences is really, really rewarding.

"I'm very grateful for that."
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

Homeless veterans are at an increased risk for suicide

The Department of Veteran Affairs along with Military OneSource provide resources to help veterans experiencing homelessness and thoughts of suicide ... 63f2e54cbf

Author: Ashton Byers
Published: 7:32 PM PDT September 21, 2021
Updated: 7:34 PM PDT September 21, 2021

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Military OneSource and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs have teamed up to provide resources to veterans experiencing homelessness and thoughts of suicide.

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased feelings of isolation, which increases the risk of suicide.

"When we sit in that negative stress for a really long time it really can affect us in all different ways. Physically, emotionally and can affect our behavior causing us to isolate," said Michelle Aldana, the program analyst with Military Community Support Programs for Military OneSource.

Military OneSource is an avenue for stress, assisting with everything from relationships to financial stressors. Family counseling and mental health resources are available as well as career, health and wellness coaches.

"You've got to go through it to get through it and when you go through it you'll have the tools that will be able to help," said Aldana.

Veterans remain at a 53% higher risk of committing suicide than non-veterans. The Department of Veterans Affairs provides 24/7 hotlines to assist veterans experiencing a mental health crisis.

"If you get in a place where it's too overwhelming and it's a lot and you feel like you are in a crisis or having thoughts that scare you, you can contact the Military Crisis Line at (800) 273-8255 or text 838255 to start a conversation with a counselor," Aldana said.

There is a relationship between homelessness and suicide risk, according to Dr. Ryan Holliday with VA Rocky Mountain MIRECC for Veteran Suicide Prevention.

"It's tragic that veterans who served our country are on the streets," said Dr. Jack Tsai with the National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans.

According to Tsai, the homeless population consists of 100,000 veterans annually.

There are clinical and community-based interventions to help with suicide prevention, according to Dr. Matthew Miller, director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.

"The biggest risk factor is in the lack of connection, and for that, we have resources. The Homeless Call Center and Veteran's Crisis Line are used to assess risk and come up with a plan to set up services and pursue additional resources," Miller said.

The Veteran's Crisis Line and the Homeless Call Center are free, anonymous confidential resources available to anyone experiencing a mental health crisis, homeless, or at risk of being homeless.
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

Post by trader32176 »

VA zeroes in on gun safety as a way to reduce veteran suicides

9/22/21 ... -suicides/

Veterans Affairs officials want to talk about your guns.

Staff working on suicide prevention are planning to increase their focus on the importance of lethal means safety as part of their suicide prevention campaign. On Wednesday, VA officials said that will include more training for staff and more public service announcements for veterans on best practices for gun storage and mental health help.

“We are not gearing any campaign or messaging towards restriction,” Dr. Matthew Miller, executive director of VA’s Suicide Prevention Program, told members of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee on Wednesday. “We are gearing our messaging and campaign towards safety, time and space between a person, a firearm and ammunition.

“A [pause] of 10 to 20 minutes can be life saving.”

Miller’s comments came two weeks after VA officials released their annual report on veteran suicide rates, showing a decline in 2019 (the latest year for which data was available). The 7 percent decrease put veterans’ suicides at their lowest rate since 2007.

But the figures still translate into about 17 veteran deaths a day by suicide across America. Of those, roughly 70 percent are the result of firearms use.

Public health officials for years have pushed for increased focus on gun ownership and safety among veterans as a way to reduce suicide among veterans, noting that former military members are more likley to own and use the weapons.

In the President’s Roadmap to Empower Veterans and End a National Tragedy of Suicide (PREVENTS) initiative released in June 2020, administration officials said they found “robust and compelling” evidence that lethal means safety efforts could reduce veterans suicide nationwide.

And VA has run multiple public service messages and safety training programs on the issue in recent years. But much of that work has been publicly downplayed or curbed as the topic has frequently run into political opposition from gun rights activists and conservative lawmakers, who view the efforts as an attempt to infringe on individuals’ Second Amendment rights.

In testimony Wednesday, Miller and other VA officials said they are cognizant of those concerns, but also convinced that the topic must be broached more widely to save veterans’ lives.

“In fiscal 2022 we’ll be moving forward with that … addressing lethal means safety specifically for veterans, for families and loved ones and community members, and for health care systems,” he said. " We’re also working from an interagency perspective within the government, where lethal means safety is a primary goal for interagency collaboration and coordination.”

In the last month, department officials have released a series of new ads — both online and on through media networks — informing veterans that “a simple lock puts space between a thought and a trigger.”

The PREVENTS report, compiled and approved by President Donald Trump’s administration, noted that “time and space can create an opportunity for a change of heart or for someone to intervene” in cases of veterans’ emotional distress.

“In addition, if one means for attempting suicide is not available, most people do not substitute a different method,” the report said.

The announcement of a new gun safety push by VA drew only mild pushback at Wednesday’s hearing.

Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., warned that “mandated removal of veterans’ firearms [in cases of mental health problems] would be very counterproductive and completely unacceptable to many members of this committee.” But he also said he thought the approach of VA thus far is “headed in the right direction” in his view.

“This is a real problem,” he said. “The amount of times that veterans are using firearms to take their own lives … if we can get time between them and their firearms, then that’s going to be a good thing.”

Other lawmakers pushed VA officials to mandate more firearms safety training for front-line staff interacting with veterans on mental health and support issues. Miller said officials plan to expand that by fall 2023.

The latest VA report on veterans suicide is available on the department’s web site.

Veterans experiencing a mental health emergency can contact the Veteran Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit for assistance.
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Re: PTSD and Suicide Ideation in Veterans

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Omaha veterans organization helping frontline healthcare workers with PTSD

9/23/21 ... with-ptsd/
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