Several who ordered Unvalidated Pain during the first week it was published have finished reading it and shared some feedback. Thank you to those who have taken the time to read it, to share their thoughts afterward, and found hope even in the midst of the story's pain. If you have read the story, please feel free to let me know your thoughts!
This article notes how complex the issue of military suicide is... it's not just deployments, it's not just marriage problems, it's not just anything... it's everything. And no two people have the same reasons for committing suicide. That's what makes "fixing" the problem so difficult. However, as everyone knows, despair over unemployment definitely increases the risk. Some of the unemployment issues can easily be fixed if helping people find work becomes more important than lining people's pockets.
The author notes that a truck driver or a medic in the army can't just do the same job as a civilian. Why? Because although the army trains one to do those jobs, the CDL and EMT schools who issue licenses will not certify one with military training (that is often better than that received in the civilian sector) because then the school won't get the money for training the person. These are easy fixes, but it takes educating the public on the issue and getting the public involved in making changes in order for change to happen.
The news yesterday noted that the Pentagon will lift the ban on women holding many combat positions. As this article explains, many women have already been doing it. Problem is, they weren't given the recognition for it, promotions for it, etc.
Consider the female who served as a member of the Quick Reactionary Force (QRF). They are the ones who go outside the wire daily, meet with locals, approach abandoned cars to investigate, etc. While many male counterparts are safe on the FOB/COB (the base) these women risk getting in a firefight on a continual basis. However, because they are in a non-combat MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) they may not receive medals available only for combat specialties, which can limit military promotion.
Another issue is that within the military community, with many, if you are not a scout or an infantryman then you have no reason to suffer from symptoms of PTSD. This invalidates many who suffer from PTSD and that Unvalidated Pain can lead to severe depression, feelings of worthlessness, and suicide.
While it's nice to see the Pentagon finally catching up with reality, it would have been nice if it had been done back in 1991, when women began truly being thrust onto the front lines during Desert Storm, or at least by 2003, after so many had already been blown up by IDE's, died in firefights, etc. in Afghanistan before the same started in Iraq.
Combat? Reaction Of Many Women In Military Is 'Been There, Done That' : NPR
While Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is set to make a historic announcement today, the reality is
There have been a lot of recent stories about TBI (traumatic brain injury) due to football player deaths. TBI has been linked to depression and even to the suicide of former football player Ray Easterling. This is an interesting article about research into head trauma, and if progress is made may help prevent suicides not only of athletes but our service members who suffer from TBI due to IDE's. PET Scan May Reveal C.T.E. Signs, Study Says
I found this study that was/is being done on the effects of suicide on those left being. Have not seen anything on the outcome of that research, but is interesting to see that it is being done. Research to Examine Effects of Suicide on Veterans, Military Families
This is a story that has been in and out of the media over the past few years, with at least one interview that I've seen with the parents on the news. Those who served in the first few years of the war had the worst of it - a nation, a military, a V.A. system that wasn't prepared for the fallout of war. It took years before PTSD was taken seriously and Soldiers starting receiving any real help, yet even today the answer from any medical facility is to throw meds at it. Unfortunately that answer all too often ends up in tragedy from either an accidental or an intentional overdose. Those who do not die from it many times end up permanently damaged organs. SPC Lance Pilgrim: A Soldier's Battle Lost After Returning Home
It's been claimed over and over again that the rate of military suicide to civilian suicide has only recently changed with the military suicide overtaking civilian, and only by a small amount. Yet, the graph in the article below graph seems to paint a different picture - not only with regard to that particular statistic, but with regard to the invincible WWII generation.
While it's true that the elderly have a higher suicide rate than the middle age, and that certainly can account for some of the loss, the graph again shows that WWII vets have a much higher suicide rate than that of non-vets of the same age group.
We are losing the WWII generation at a rate of more than 1,000 a day, with the last projected to be gone by 2020. That's not shocking, given their age (my grandfather who served in the Navy during WWII just turned 90 this past Sept.). But to lose them to suicide, especially because help wasn't available then and isn't accepted now by that generation is heart-wrenching.
Suicide Rates Soar among WWII Vets, Records Show
The number of military suicides for 2012 surpassed the number of combat deaths, and rose to nearly one a day on average for the year, as reported by NPR.
While I haven't been able to verify it, I have been told by a licensed counselor with a great deal of experience that spouses of those who commit suicide are 700 times more likely to commit suicide themselves than one who has not endured such a loss. For those in the military, relationships may not be bound in marriage, but they are as close or even closer!
Just got the call that Unvalidated Pain: A Chaplain's Journey to Iraq and Back was published yesterday.
It is now available online at http://bookstore.authorhouse.com/. Simply search Unvalidated Pain.
Any feedback or stories you'd like to share of your own experience, I would love to hear through this site's contact page, or on the book's Facebook page.
Thank you, everyone, for your support through this project!
A medically retired, Iraqi Freedom veteran, Army Chaplain.