Veterans’ Suicides Are Increasing

 

Our veterans are dying in increasing numbers—at their own hands. I was moved to explore this topic thanks to Nicole Fisher of The Federalist’s recent article. She quoted a Department of Veteran Affairs study published in September 2017:

More than 20 veterans commit suicide each day, a number, on average, 22 times greater than the civilian population. In fact, veterans’ suicides account for 18-20 percent of suicide deaths in the country, while they make up only about 8.5 percent of the adult population.

In spite of the staggering numbers and efforts to deal with the situation, the totals continue to rise.

More than just overwhelmed by the tragedy of military suicides, I was surprised to learn that traumatic overseas events don’t seem to be the source of these actions:

Instead, research indicates feelings of shame or guilt trigger the emotional, mental, and physical reactions that lead to suicide. This is guilt about what soldiers did to others and shame of not being able to save the lives of those around them. These issues have led to a particularly high rate of self-inflicted death among female veterans. Shockingly, the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent higher than that for female non-vets.

Traumatic brain injuries are also contributors to suicidal acts.

National Institutes of Health also conducted a study of our veterans:

After controlling for age, sex, race, marital status, branch of service, and rank, deployed veterans showed a lower risk of suicide compared with nondeployed veterans. Multiple deployments were not associated with the excess suicide risk among deployed veterans.

In another article citing the Department of Veteran Affairs study, state-by-state figures were cited. As of 2014, states such as Montana, Utah, Nevada and New Mexico had some of the highest suicide rates. Many of these veterans had to drive 70 or more miles to a VA medical center. Rajeev Ramchand studies suicide for the RAND Corp. He had these comments about the results attributed to the states:

Ramchand said it was hard to pinpoint specific causes behind veteran suicide but likely involved factors more prevalent in rural areas, such as social isolation, limited health care access, gun ownership and opioid addiction. Nationally, 70 percent of the veterans who take their lives had not previously been connected to VA care.

Ret. Army Sgt. Shawn Jones, executive director of Stop Soldier Suicide, suggests that community support is part of the solution:

‘It can be tough because the military is a close-knit community and you have that familial feel,’ Jones said. ‘As you transition out, you tend to lose that a little bit and feel like an island onto yourself.’

There has also been a big push to make private-sector care available to veterans. Allison Jaslow, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a former Army captain, suggests that this type of care won’t be a simple fix, either:

‘Veterans often have more complex injuries,’ said Allison Jaslow . . . citing limitations if civilian doctors [who] don’t understand the unique challenges of the veterans’ population. ‘If doctors don’t ask the right questions to a veteran complaining of back pain, for instance, they may prescribe opioids not realizing the veteran was also suffering PTSD or brain injury after being blown up in a humvee.’

There are steps being taken to deal with this long-term problem. The Concerned Veterans of America advocates for veterans and has been promoting the VA Mission Act to fund the current Choice Program. The bill passed the Senate on May 24 and has gone to the President’s desk. This was a priority for lawmakers and the VA, too, since estimates showed the Veterans Choice Program would be out of funds as early as May 31, 2018. The VA MISSION Act solves that problem by funding the current Choice Program while the VA works to implement the integration of community care programs and expand choice.

In May 2017, the Department of Energy and VA also teamed up to improve care for veterans.

In spite of the critical need to develop solutions to help our veterans, the VA is a rudderless ship. There is no leadership at the top. President Trump showed an interest in nominating Acting Secretary of the VA, Robert Wilkie, to the position. But Wilkie can’t be nominated unless he steps down from his current role. The nomination drifts in limbo.

Does anyone else know of other productive, practical steps that are being taken? Do you have ideas for resolving this mammoth issue so we can serve, honor and care for our veterans? The Department of Veterans Affairs is making, at best, some effort to deal with this chronic and devastating problem; at worst, it is an embarrassment to this country and a travesty for our veterans.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Susan Quinn: Does anyone else know of other productive, practical steps that are being taken? Do you have ideas for resolving this mammoth issue so we can serve, honor and care for our veterans? The Department of Veterans Affairs is making, at best, some effort to deal with this chronic and devastating problem; at worst, it is an embarrassment to this country and a travesty for our veterans.

    Well, we could stop sending people around the world to do things that, in the long run, rarely even meet the goals set out by the military or government. More often than not, intervention is either going to have neutral or negative results, so you need to have a really good reason to take that risk. It’s almost impossible to know what the consequences are going to be before hand, and this is an argument against doing something, not for doing it, even if there are occasional WWII like situations. Not every intervention is likely to prevent another world war, so stop pretending like this justifies any and all actions.

    Obviously, sending people into these circumstances is killing them, even when they survive, so this should enter into the calculus, making it even less likely we should “Do something!

    Also, abolish the VA. If something is really important, the government is the last entity you want in charge of it. If you want to take care of veterans, let them purchase private healthcare with government money. Too expensive? Well, maybe you should have thought of that before you destroyed their psyche for haphazard and unpredictable gains and loses.

    • #1
  2. CarolJoy Coolidge
    CarolJoy
    @CarolJoy

    While doing investigative work as an indie reporter, circa 1997 to 2005, I found so many bits of information freely disseminated on the official website of the CIA.

    Among discussions that were presented to themselves and the public was that one of the CIA’s most serious problems, circa 1995 to summer 2001, was that the CIA had no idea of where to begin as far as seeing to it that the folks serving in the US military would no longer hold any compunctions about taking out their own country men.

    In other words, the CIA had determined that America’s enlisted personnel would not, circa the time period of 1995 to 2001, kill their fellow Americans even if ordered to do so.

    I have always believed that one reason for the endless tours of duty after Nine Eleven was that the CIA somehow thought that this policy would break down resistance to what was their stated goal. However, the program backfired, as after several tours of duty many people ended up so scarred that they can’t go to the local shopping mall, let alone stay in the service and be willing accomplices in the larger picture.

    Another of the CIA’s goals was that they were itching for civil wars. Among other such scenarios they presented was the loggers vs environmentalists in Northern California. Also to have language wars between English speaking people and those who spoke a different language.

    It is interesting to note that within five or six years of reading about this on their website, it became standard policy here in California to be told by La Raza styled activists and most people in the Dem leadership and Big Union roles how Americans “need to learn Spanish, as it is simply unfair to expect new immigrants to have to learn our language.” It then became hard for anyone born in this country to obtain government agency work unless they were bilingual. (At the same exact time, many community colleges claimed they could no longer offer Spanish classes as they were facing budget cuts. Hmm, was this a screw up or a deliberate feature of the budget cuts?) If you examine a map of the US and realize how far from the border both Sacramento and San Francisco happen to be, this was a strange thing for everyday people to have to consider, in order to be employed.

    In any event, it seems that a large group of SES (Senior Exec Services) people and various important people inside the alphabet agencies probably look at the veterans who suffer from mental health and physical problems as people who sold them out as far as their larger and much more real agenda.

    • #2
  3. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    These articles, which crop up from time-to-time are misleading and paint a picture more political than practical. While every suicide is a tragedy, what folks try to extrapolate out of it is a tragedy in itself.

    The biggest takeaway from the reportage is that the “War on Terror” has created its own terror, that our communities are awash with returning veterans on the edge of violence to themselves and others, a literal army of PTSD sufferers just waiting to snap. The facts state otherwise.

    1. The overwhelming majority of suicides are men 50 and older. Most are suffering through cancers or other non-service related injuries where opioids no longer help.

    2. Deployment to a war zone is inconsequential. In fact, combat duty vets are less likely to take their own lives. 77% of veteran suicides never heard a shot fired in anger. 

    3. The longer you served, the better off you are. After 9/11 the US Army relaxed some of its recruiting standards. Consequently, many were inducted with pre-existing problems. Those that were separated from service before the first anniversary of their induction were four times as likely to attempt suicide. 

    4. Suicide rates in the US are up across the board. However, civilian suicide rates among young men 25-34 are actually higher than among those that have worn the uniform.

    Stats: JAMA Psychiatry, April 2015

     

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Mike H (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: Does anyone else know of other productive, practical steps that are being taken? Do you have ideas for resolving this mammoth issue so we can serve, honor and care for our veterans? The Department of Veterans Affairs is making, at best, some effort to deal with this chronic and devastating problem; at worst, it is an embarrassment to this country and a travesty for our veterans.

    Well, we could stop sending people around the world to do things that, in the long run, rarely even meet the goals set out by the military or government. More often than not, intervention is either going to have neutral or negative results, so you need to have a really good reason to take that risk. It’s almost impossible to know what the consequences are going to be before hand, and this is an argument against doing something, not for doing it, even if there are occasional WWII like situations. Not every intervention is likely to prevent another world war, so stop pretending like this justifies any and all actions.

    Obviously, sending people into these circumstances are killing them, even when they survive, so this should enter into the calculus, making it even less likely we should “Do something!

    Also, abolish the VA. If something is really important, the government is the last entity you want in charge of it. If you want to take care of veterans, let them purchase private healthcare with government money. Too expensive? Well, maybe you should have thought of that before you destroyed their psyche for haphazard and unpredictable gains and loses.

    I agree with most of your points, @mikeh. I think we definitely have to decide the role we want to have in the world, and I think that definition keeps changing. The challenge is figuring out what it means to take a leadership role, and does it have to include military intervention and when should we do that?

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    In any event, it seems that a large group of SES (Senior Exec Services) people and various important people inside the alphabet agencies probably look at the veterans who suffer from mental health and physical problems as people who sold them out as far as their larger and much more real agenda.

    I understand most of your points, @caroljoy, but not this last one. How could they have sold them out?

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EJHill (View Comment):
    The biggest takeaway from the reportage is that the “War on Terror” has created its own terror, that our communities are awash with returning veterans on the edge of violence to themselves and others, a literal army of PTSD sufferers just waiting to snap. The facts state otherwise.

    I assume that you’re referring to others in general who mischaracterize the situation, rather than my OP specifically.

    I’d like to point out that my OP said nothing about the War on Terror. Also, I did point out that most suicides do not seem to be a result of being deployed to a war zone. Finally, although most who commit suicide are in their 50’s, all our vets will reach that age at some point, unless they die of something else. I’m all for putting things in perspective, but I still think there is an issue that needs addressing.

     

    • #6
  7. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I think there are some general men’s mental health issues in play here, as EJ Hill alluded to in comment 4.

    In my opinion, the military should be working on outplacement strategies with their personnel from the moment those people enlist. Job-finding strategies can’t be appended at the end of a tour of duty. They need to be incorporated into the entire stream of skills development throughout a person’s enlistment. In fact, the enlistment itself should be worked through with a viable after-military-life plan in place from day 1.

    It’s the same thing with life planning. We need experts on board to help military personnel with life and career planning.

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    MarciN (View Comment):
    It’s the same thing with life planning. We need experts on board to help people with this. 

    Thanks, @marcin. I had a similar reaction, with an emphasis on connecting not only regarding jobs, but in communication and relationship building. I mentioned that point in the OP. The tough part is that veterans can feel isolated (even when they have people around them), which can lead to depression, which can lead to the desire for more isolation. We are meant to be in relationship, even if it’s with a handful of people who care about us; that helps us develop the strength to tackle life’s issues.

    • #8
  9. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Susan Quinn: I’m all for putting things in perspective, but I still think there is an issue that needs addressing.

    Unfortunately, we can’t address these issues because some of the issues themselves are politically incorrect. Our fathers came home from WWII and our mothers got the hell out of the workforce. Warriors for Uncle Sam were allowed to become warriors for their families. Occupied minds and bodies do wonders.

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m all for putting things in perspective, but I still think there is an issue that needs addressing.

    Unfortunately, we can’t address these issues because some of the issues themselves are politically incorrect. Our fathers came home from WWII and our mothers got the hell out of the workforce. Warriors for Uncle Sam were allowed to become warriors for their families. Occupied minds and bodies do wonders.

    Now that is an intriguing perspective. So does this also tie in to the feminization of America, too? How would this explain the number of women who are committing suicide or does that correspond to the increase in women enlisting in the military? Oh my, much to contemplate here. Thanks, EJ.

    • #10
  11. CarolJoy Coolidge
    CarolJoy
    @CarolJoy

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    CarolJoy (View Comment):
    In any event, it seems that a large group of SES (Senior Exec Services) people and various important people inside the alphabet agencies probably look at the veterans who suffer from mental health and physical problems as people who sold them out as far as their larger and much more real agenda.

    I understand most of your points, @caroljoy, but not this last one. How could they have sold them out?

    Here are questions for you: why is it that we have unlimited funds to offer up to defense contractors, yet the military service personnel at the “grunt” GI level, are given extremely limited salaries?

    How is it someone like scum bag Eric Prince ended up a billionaire, where as most vets are struggling financially?

    I could go on, but you get my drift.

    • #11
  12. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I think EJ makes a good point on how this sort of thing is used to grind an axe.

    Suicide take two things to occur. 

    1. The individual needs to not fear death. 
    2. The individual needs to have tunnel vision such that they can see no way to end their pain save death. 

    I will point out that for military and paramilitary (police, fire, etc.) individuals, number 1 is often already completed. Thus, these populations, who are also at higher risk of PTSD, are, by nature, 50% the way there. 

    Now, as to death rates, Vet deaths need to be normalized against the population as a whole to mean anything. You have to compare men of a certain age to men of a certain age. We know that middle aged white men have the highest rate of death by suicide*. So, the question has to be, is the rate of middle aged white male vets significantly higher than their population. We know that vets will die by suicide at a higher rate than the general population, because it is more male. However, when we look at males alone, it would be interesting, because the racial mix in the military is less white and more black than the population as a whole. So things get tricky fast. 

    Further, with women, we cannot assume that being in the military is the casual factor for their higher death by suicide rate. Woman who are willing to join the military are already a smaller subset of women than men who join the military are of men. Therefore, said women are already different from their sisters in mainstream America. It is possible this is the primary factor, more than service. 

    Because we see more death by suicide in people not deployed, the picture is even more muddied. Clearly, more is going on that being under threat of death and PTSD as factors. Perhaps the fact that military training teaches vets to use firearms does mean that a suicide attempt is more likely to result in death. I can also imagine, with this part of the population, things like Honor wax as powerful motivators, and lost Honor for any reason is its own type of pain. The thoughts in this paragraph are just speculation on my part, and would need study. 

    I strongly reject Mike H.’s argument, as it tends to cast Vets as victims, and uses these statistics to promote a political agenda. That should not be done based on everything I have just said. 

    Let me close with, if you think anyone might be suicidal, please ask them about it. If it is true, they are in more pain than they believe they can take. So often, no one reaches out. Ask. 

    https://www.sprc.org/

    This is an organization dedicated to preventing death by suicide. 

     (800) 273 TALK (8 2 5 51) is a Suicide Hotline. 

     

     

    *I use the term “Death by Suicide” to be a judgement neutral as possible about the act itself. 

    • #12
  13. CarolJoy Coolidge
    CarolJoy
    @CarolJoy

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: I’m all for putting things in perspective, but I still think there is an issue that needs addressing.

    Unfortunately, we can’t address these issues because some of the issues themselves are politically incorrect. Our fathers came home from WWII and our mothers got the hell out of the workforce. Warriors for Uncle Sam were allowed to become warriors for their families. Occupied minds and bodies do wonders.

    Now that is an intriguing perspective. So does this also tie in to the feminization of America, too? How would this explain the number of women who are committing suicide or does that correspond to the increase in women enlisting in the military? Oh my, much to contemplate here. Thanks, EJ.

    I also think that it would need to be carefully considered if the older vets did indeed experience multiple tours or not. After all, National Guard personnel, some of whom were in their late forties and mid-fifties were deployed to Iraq, and couldn’t get out before they had done multiple tours.

    Also I’d love to know who paid for JAMA researcher’s research.

    • #13
  14. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I think EJ makes a good point on how this sort of thing is used to grind an axe.

    Suicide take two things to occur.

    1. The individual needs to not fear death.
    2. The individual needs to have tunnel vision such that they can see no way to end their pain save death.

    I will point out that for military and paramilitary (police, fire, etc.) individuals, number 1 is often already completed. Thus, these populations, who are also at higher risk of PTSD, are, by nature, 50% the way there.

    Now, as to death rates, Vet deaths need to be normalized against the population as a whole to mean anything. You have to compare men of a certain age to men of a certain age. We know that middle aged white men have the highest rate of death by suicide*. So, the question has to be, is the rate of middle aged white male vets significantly higher than their population. We know that vets will die by suicide at a higher rate than the general population, because it is more male. However, when we look at males alone, it would be interesting, because the racial mix in the military is less white and more black than the population as a whole. So things get tricky fast.

    Further, with women, we cannot assume that being in the military is the casual factor for their higher death by suicide rate. Woman who are willing to join the military are already a smaller subset of women than men who join the military are of men. Therefore, said women are already different from their sisters in mainstream America. It is possible this is the primary factor, more than service.

    Because we see more death by suicide in people not deployed, the picture is even more muddied. Clearly, more is going on that being under threat of death and PTSD as factors. Perhaps the fact that military training teaches vets to use firearms does mean that a suicide attempt is more likely to result in death. I can also imagine, with this part of the population, things like Honor wax as powerful motivators, and lost Honor for any reason is its own type of pain. The thoughts in this paragraph are just speculation on my part, and would need study.

    I strongly reject Mike H.’s argument, as it tends to cast Vets as victims, and uses these statistics to promote a political agenda. That should not be done based on everything I have just said.

    Let me close with, if you think anyone might be suicidal, please ask them about it. If it is true, they are in more pain than they believe they can take. So often, no one reaches out. Ask.

    https://www.sprc.org/

    This is an organization dedicated to preventing death by suicide.

    (800) 273 TALK (8 2 5 51) is a Suicide Hotline.

     

     

    *I use the term “Death by Suicide” to be a judgement neutral as possible about the act itself.

    I accept your rejection of my argument. Good comment.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I think EJ makes a good point on how this sort of thing is used to grind an axe.

    Suicide take two things to occur.

    1. The individual needs to not fear death.
    2. The individual needs to have tunnel vision such that they can see no way to end their pain save death.

    I will point out that for military and paramilitary (police, fire, etc.) individuals, number 1 is often already completed. Thus, these populations, who are also at higher risk of PTSD, are, by nature, 50% the way there.

    Now, as to death rates, Vet deaths need to be normalized against the population as a whole to mean anything. You have to compare men of a certain age to men of a certain age. We know that middle aged white men have the highest rate of death by suicide*. So, the question has to be, is the rate of middle aged white male vets significantly higher than their population. We know that vets will die by suicide at a higher rate than the general population, because it is more male. However, when we look at males alone, it would be interesting, because the racial mix in the military is less white and more black than the population as a whole. So things get tricky fast.

    Further, with women, we cannot assume that being in the military is the casual factor for their higher death by suicide rate. Woman who are willing to join the military are already a smaller subset of women than men who join the military are of men. Therefore, said women are already different from their sisters in mainstream America. It is possible this is the primary factor, more than service.

    Because we see more death by suicide in people not deployed, the picture is even more muddied. Clearly, more is going on that being under threat of death and PTSD as factors. Perhaps the fact that military training teaches vets to use firearms does mean that a suicide attempt is more likely to result in death. I can also imagine, with this part of the population, things like Honor wax as powerful motivators, and lost Honor for any reason is its own type of pain. The thoughts in this paragraph are just speculation on my part, and would need study.

    I strongly reject Mike H.’s argument, as it tends to cast Vets as victims, and uses these statistics to promote a political agenda. That should not be done based on everything I have just said.

    Let me close with, if you think anyone might be suicidal, please ask them about it. If it is true, they are in more pain than they believe they can take. So often, no one reaches out. Ask.

    https://www.sprc.org/

    This is an organization dedicated to preventing death by suicide.

    (800) 273 TALK (8 2 5 51) is a Suicide Hotline.

     

     

    *I use the term “Death by Suicide” to be a judgement neutral as possible about the act itself.

    Thanks so much @bryangstephens! There’s a part of me that wants to be able to see through all the muddiness, but you’ve shown it’s even more complicated than I imagined! And I appreciate that. It must seem like an impossible task to figure out all the ramifications. That, of course, means it’s even more difficult to figure out strategies for dealing with them, never mind resolve them. I guess it’s knowing that no matter the motivation (as you’ve pointed out), those who commit suicide must be in a great deal of pain. That kind of pain is difficult for me to imagine.

    • #15
  16. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Susan Quinn:

    Does anyone else know of other productive, practical steps that are being taken? Do you have ideas for resolving this mammoth issue so we can serve, honor and care for our veterans?

    I think that pet therapy helps some. I don’t know that most of these guys even need a real service dog, if they are not physical disabled. A mutt from the local pound who feels neglected and condemned might be all that is needed. 

    I would imagine that some of these veterans have poor home environments. Most of these veterans probably need to be closer to family and friends, but some probably need to get away from one’s home environment in some cases.

    Secularism seems to be on the rise. Maybe witnessing traumatic events makes one lose all faith.

    I would imagine that divorce and everything that entails including losing one’s kids, money concerns, and unfaithful relationships is also a big factor.

    I don’t know what the answer is. The economy seems to be doing better than it was a decade ago at least.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    Does anyone else know of other productive, practical steps that are being taken? Do you have ideas for resolving this mammoth issue so we can serve, honor and care for our veterans?

    I think that pet therapy helps some. I don’t know that most of these guys even need a real service dog, if they are not physical disabled. A mutt from the local pound who feels neglected and condemned might be all that is needed.

    I would imagine that some of these veterans have poor home environments. Most of these veterans probably need to be closer to family and friends, but some probably need to get away from one’s home environment in some cases.

    Secularism seems to be on the rise. Maybe witnessing traumatic events makes one lose all faith.

    I would imagine that divorce and everything that entails including losing one’s kids, money concerns, and unfaithful relationships is also a big factor.

    I don’t know what the answer is. The economy seems to be doing better than it was a decade ago at least.

    Excellent points, @thecloakedgaijin. You point to a remedy that is multi-faceted. It would be interesting to hear from veterans whose faith was affected, positively or negatively. Hopefully the improving economy will give some of those vets a better chance of employment, which can be so important to adjusting. Thanks.

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide. 

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy. 

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide.

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy.

    You are correct on all counts, Bryan. I often say that I strive for satisfaction. That might mean writing an OP I’m satisfied with, cooking a dinner with my husband, or just getting a big hug from him. A benefit is that all of these happen to make me happy, but that’s not why I do them.

    • #19
  20. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide.

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy.

    Dr. Drew Pinsky had an excellent riff on this exact subject on Ben Shapiro’s weekend show this past weekend.

    • #20
  21. Nanda Pajama-Tantrum Inactive
    Nanda Pajama-Tantrum
    @nandapanjandrum

    We need to expand our “treatment philosophies” to include the reality of “moral injury”. See here and here.

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide.

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy.

    Dr. Drew Pinsky had an excellent riff on this exact subject on Ben Shapiro’s weekend show this past weekend.

    Is that TV or radio, Jamie? 

    • #22
  23. Jamie Lockett Inactive
    Jamie Lockett
    @JamieLockett

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide.

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy.

    Dr. Drew Pinsky had an excellent riff on this exact subject on Ben Shapiro’s weekend show this past weekend.

    Is that TV or radio, Jamie?

    YouTube – follow the DailyWire feed. You get a lot of good content. 

    • #23
  24. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Susan Quinn:

    ‘It can be tough because the military is a close-knit community and you have that familial feel,’ Jones said. ‘As you transition out, you tend to lose that a little bit and feel like an island onto yourself.’

    I think this is a big part of it. I have had a few lifer friends that are now retired from the military and worked with many vets over the years. A common theme is how cut off they seem. Before they had an organization that to some degree supported them, nurtured them, even gave some tough love. Both personally and professionally. I have seen military guys pick up a phone to talk to and ask favors of people they have worked with before. Little of that resides in the civilian world. Companies do not care for their employees. Have no investment in their futures. Nobody cares if you starve. This lack of oversight the military gave them that is missing from the civilian world is very problematic for some.

    • #24
  25. dajoho Member
    dajoho
    @dajoho

    Thanks for posting Susan. This is a serious subject and deserves serious consideration. For the record none of my comrades at arms have killed themselves (hallelujah) but I have been in and around it. 

    It is my opinion that the largest contributor to this is lack of purpose particularly for those who served in war time. You have a common purpose and as stated in comments above one is surrounded by what essentially becomes family. 

    Suddenly a service member finds himself back on the street with no job or the job he/she has is meaningless and he/she is surrounded by essentially strangers. Everyone needs a community and for some the military is the only community they have.

    And a wise man recently told me when we were discussing the life and death struggle my son recently survived that it’s not the fact that you survived but that you are glad that you are alive and that is what causes the guilt – gave me pause.

    Lastly if you are struggling in direct response to a wartime event (I saw the stats above and I know that is a low percentage of suicides) you need to treat it like any other wound. Get help, dress it, clean it, keep it from getting infected, and it will heal. And like any other wound it will scar and sometimes its just going to hurt.

    • #25
  26. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    dajoho (View Comment):
    Lastly if you are struggling in direct response to a wartime event (I saw the stats above and I know that is a low percentage of suicides) you need to treat it like any other wound. Get help, dress it, clean it, keep it from getting infected, and it will heal. And like any other wound it will scar and sometimes its just going to hurt.

    Thanks so much for adding your voice to this conversation, @dajoho, and for validating the need for this topic. I wish people would treat it like any other wound, just as you describe, but I think there is still a stigma about mental or emotional difficulties. It’s interesting: one person says that like WWII, men need to realize that they are now fighting to protect or take care of their families and need to get busy doing so, and that is in effect a solution. Yet you’re saying that these are legitimate wounds that need to be acknowledged and treated in a world where vets feel isolated and alone. So I’m left wondering which is true, or if both are true. Any thoughts? 

    • #26
  27. Ralphie Member
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Our culture has worked hard over the past 50 years to destroy any meaning other than chasing happiness*. We have talked up more an more rights, and yet downplayed responsibility. Men, in particular, have been told my entire life, by the culture that there is something wrong with us for being men. This has only gotten worse. So has their rates of suicide.

     

     

    *Please note that the “Pursuit of Happiness” mentioned by Jefferson did not mean chasing the feeling of happiness. It was well understood to mean “Deciding for myself what is best for myself”. The Founders were not under the impression that the meaning of life was to be happy.

    Spot on.

    • #27
  28. Boss Mongo Member
    Boss Mongo
    @BossMongo

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It’s interesting: one person says that like WWII, men need to realize that they are now fighting to protect or take care of their families and need to get busy doing so, and that is in effect a solution. Yet you’re saying that these are legitimate wounds that need to be acknowledged and treated in a world where vets feel isolated and alone. So I’m left wondering which is true, or if both are true. Any thoughts? 

    Susan, I think what bifurcates the two demographics is culture. Men came back from WWII and all the hard lessons they had learned during wartime were valued and put to practice: the greatest generation became so with what they wrought after the war. They built America into a true super power. Today, similar experiences and the follow on values are not only discounted, they are considered “toxic.”

    • #28
  29. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Boss Mongo (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It’s interesting: one person says that like WWII, men need to realize that they are now fighting to protect or take care of their families and need to get busy doing so, and that is in effect a solution. Yet you’re saying that these are legitimate wounds that need to be acknowledged and treated in a world where vets feel isolated and alone. So I’m left wondering which is true, or if both are true. Any thoughts?

    Susan, I think what bifurcates the two demographics is culture. Men came back from WWII and all the hard lessons they had learned during wartime were valued and put to practice: the greatest generation became so with what they wrought after the war. They built America into a true super power. Today, similar experiences and the follow on values are not only discounted, they are considered “toxic.”

    We’ve so disparaged the meaning and value of family, that there is little honor to trying to protect them against the world. Got it. Sad. Thanks, @bossmongo.

    • #29
  30. TBA Coolidge
    TBA
    @RobtGilsdorf

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    dajoho (View Comment):
    Lastly if you are struggling in direct response to a wartime event (I saw the stats above and I know that is a low percentage of suicides) you need to treat it like any other wound. Get help, dress it, clean it, keep it from getting infected, and it will heal. And like any other wound it will scar and sometimes its just going to hurt.

    Thanks so much for adding your voice to this conversation, @dajoho, and for validating the need for this topic. I wish people would treat it like any other wound, just as you describe, but I think there is still a stigma about mental or emotional difficulties. 

    Part of that stigma – within the military – is impossible to eradicate. Mentioning mental/emotional difficulties can prevent your working in your field, can get your career ended or poisoned. There are officers who order mental counseling for punitive purposes.

    To be fair, the military has to remove potentially mentally ill people from certain positions as unstable people and explosives are…unstable and potentially explosive. 

    • #30

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