Veterans cry for help falls on deaf ears

Nov. 2, 2015

Kyle Guthrie
kguthri2@uccs.edu

A veteran fights an internal battle every 65 minutes over whether to endure crippling emotional pain or end their own life to escape it.

22 veterans in the U.S. lose that fight within themselves every day.

According to a national study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, this number represents veterans who commit suicide every day.

These numbers don’t include suicides classified as “accidents.”

A man I worked closely with at Fort Riley drove his car into a tree at over 100 miles an hour.

He survived and sought help, but told me this “traffic accident” was an attempt to end his life.

It’s not rare for veterans to know someone they served with who ended their suffering with suicide.

Although I’m just two years separated from service, I have buried a lot of my friends.

Seeing what veterans put up with on the home front, it’s easy to understand why their pain is so justifi ed.

Wait times for appointments to see VA doctors can last from several months to several years, even after being diagnosed with terminal illnesses requiring immediate medical attention.

On top of this, veterans face a constant slashing of benefits promised to them.

I was recently denied a VA service because of reasons they refused to tell me, despite the fact that I qualify for it in every sense.

And even though I have six months to appeal the decision, the VA has set the date for my re-evaluation eight months from now, making it impossible to appeal within the required timeframe.

Practices like this have led to countless veteran deaths that aren’t suicides. A leaked document from the VA revealed that roughly one-third of the veterans waiting for medical attention through the VA died while awaiting treatment.

Imagine if this was reality for everyone seeking medical attention.

And yet, veterans continue to be ignored and relegated to the sidelines of both public opinion and government priority, and it doesn’t look like things are going to change anytime soon.

In February, the Senate voted to kill a bill that would have increased federal healthcare and legislation.

In July, Congress voted against a bill that would have given veterans additional medical attention after leaving the service.

This year, President Obama vetoed two bills aimed at providing better healthcare services to veterans and holding VA workers more accountable for corruption and malpractices.

This October, Hillary Clinton casually dismissed the crisis by saying it was “not as widespread as it has been made out to be.”

In short, the last decade has not been a good one for us veterans, as we have seen Congress, the Senate and the White House turn their backs on us over and over.

The worst part is knowing how preventable it is. Almost every suicide survivor has said that if anyone had asked them how they were doing, they would not have gone through with it.

The simplest action in the world, taken on the part of anyone, can save a life. Yet no one seems to care enough to utter a few words.

When people say “I support the troops,” they should be ending that sentence with “as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me in the slightest way.” \

Keep an eye out for the signs.

Is someone you know giving away their possessions? Are they talking about the future like they won’t be in it? Are they withdrawing themselves from social activities they normally engage in? Maybe you should ask them if they’re OK or if they need help.

By showing the slightest interest in their well-being, you might accidentally save a life.