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Posts Tagged ‘veterans affairs’

18 veterans kill themselves every day: report

Raw Story- By Sahil Kapur
Friday, April 23rd, 2010 — 10:41 am

The suicide rate among war veterans is extraordinary, new data reveals.

Thirty try to commit suicide each day, on average, reports the Army Times. Seven percent succeed, while 11 percent are likely to make another attempt in the next nine months.

That adds up to 18 retired soldiers who successfully kill themselves daily — 6,570 annually — roughly five a day by service members receiving medical care from Veterans Affairs, rated one of the best health programs in the country.

The Times noted that “In general, VA officials said, women attempt suicide more often, but men are more likely to succeed in the attempt.”

The report cites access to health care and age — younger veterans are less likely to try — as two major factors in the suicide rate, and notes that the VA is seeking to strengthen its suicide prevention programs.

According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, “Roughly 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively.”

The struggle among veterans to return to everyday life has been documented over the years.

The Associated Press reported in November 2007 that one in four homeless people across the nation is likely to be a veteran, even though veterans constitute a mere 11 percent of overall adults in the United States.

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This Thanksgiving, Hear What New Veterans Are Grateful For

Huffington Post

Paul Rieckhoff– Exec. Director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Posted: November 25, 2009 06:38 PM

It’s time once again for that seasonal blend of gratitude and that deep longing for the familiar –family, health, pumpkin pie, turkey, and the Detroit Lions getting blown-out on National TV.

Eight years of war have brought tremendous challenges for our military, our veterans and their families. And just a few weeks ago, the military community was tested yet again by the terrible tragedy at Fort Hood.

Despite these obstacles, our men and women in uniform continue to soldier on. And this year, they have more than a few things to give thanks for. In 2009, we’ve seen some big victories for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Just last month, advanced funding for VA health care was signed into law. A top priority for leading veterans groups for decades, this reform will transform veterans’ health care forever.

In 2009, we also saw the implementation of the new GI Bill, a historic measure which will send thousands of young men and women in uniform to college. And, we saw the new veterans movement grow and take hold across the country. From the largest Veterans Week celebrations ever to a thriving Community of Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are coming together and showing one another that they have each other’s backs.

I know I am thankful for all of the above, but also for the support I’ve seen from people around the country for our veterans. I also think back to my Thanksgiving in Germany at CMCT, and I am grateful that I am not in the mud freezing my butt off. And I think back to my Thanksgiving in Baghdad, and I am grateful that all the men in my platoon came home alive. I am also grateful for those like Milo Ventimiglia who are taking USO trips overseas to see our troops. And, I am grateful for the inspiration of a true American hero, J.R Martinez, and the 60 kids from P.S. 22 who taught us that Rihanna can be a very powerful anthem.

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Obama Could Issue an Executive Order to End the Wars Tomorrow (Yes, It’s That Simple)

By Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet. Posted January 29, 2009.

In a wide-ranging interview, veteran Paul Sullivan discusses Bush, Obama and the legacies of the Gulf War.

Paul Sullivan is a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, serving in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq as a Cavalry Scout with the Army’s 1st Armored Division.

As executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center from 1997 to 2000, he advocated for the passage of the Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998, which expanded health care and disability benefits for Gulf War veterans. From 2000 to 2006, he was Veterans Affairs project manager, leading a team that produced reports related to the Gulf War, Iraq war and Afghanistan war.

Sullivan is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans and is presently the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a Washington nonprofit organization focusing on issues related to national security, veterans’ rights and benefits and civil liberties.

Two days after the inauguration, Paul spoke with me about a number of topics, including: the lies, drugs and poisons involved in the Gulf War and its current sequels; the suicide epidemic among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; the rash of homicides around military bases; the need for a truth commission; skewed research on Gulf War illness at VA; signs of conspiracy and subterfuge; the legacies of Bush 41 and Bush 43; the first days of Barack Obama; and his hopes for Michelle Obama as a true friend of veterans and veterans’ families.

Nora Eisenberg: You’ve been involved with veterans’ issues and rights for close to two decades — as a veteran and advocate for veterans. Why have you devoted your life to this?

Paul Sullivan: The military taught us a valuable lesson during war: never leave a fallen comrade behind. We are now applying that essential lesson for use outside the war zone: We must never leave a fellow veteran behind.

Most people don’t know that under a little-noticed 1991 law, the Gulf War began on Aug. 2, 1990, and it continues through today. The devastation that began with the bombing of Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, continues through today. … Out of 700,000 Gulf War veterans, 290,000 filed disability claims against VA. VA also reports that 250,000 Gulf War veterans sought medical care at VA hospitals.

Friends of mine completed suicide after the Gulf War because VA delayed or denied assistance. A few friends suffered without answers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, for years before dying early, often after fighting VA.

The Gulf War continues as the new Iraq and Afghanistan wars. VA reports an additional 330,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have already filed disability claims against VA, and 400,000 have already been treated at VA hospitals. That’s a grand total of 620,000 disability claims and 650,000 veteran patients.

We continue fighting for veterans because they need it, and because we are successful. Our 2007 lawsuit forced VA to establish a toll-free suicide-prevention hot line. In the first 15 months, the hot line received 85,000 calls and performed more than 2,100 rescues of suicidal veterans.

We fought for and secured $1.8 billion in emergency funding in 2007 that VA used to hire thousands of new doctors and claims processors. VCS testified repeatedly about the need to reform VA’s broken claims system, and Congress acted by passing an overhaul bill in late 2008. Yet much more work needs to be done in 2009 and beyond.

The time has come to bring common sense to our U.S. government — we must end the wars, bring our troops home with a responsible plan, provide medical care and benefits to our veterans, begin repairing our Constitution and our international reputation, and create a truth commission that will present the facts about the causes, conduct and consequences of the war to the American public. Then we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Now that President Bush has been peaceably removed from office, President Obama need only sign an executive order to end the wars (see Title 38, United States Code, Section 101, Paragraph 33). Congress also has the authority under the Constitution to end the war. Yes, it is that simple.

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