Thursday, November 12, 2015

DYING BY OUR OWN HANDS:DOES THE VA CARE?

 Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial is located in Saint-James, Normandy, France
[My father's brother ( S SGT Edward C. Cooper, May 21, 1916- August 28, 1944) who is buried here and for whom I am named did not die of his own hand, but many have and many more will.]

This is a very personal story to try to illustrate why just because Veterans Day is over we cannot stop our efforts to advocate for better services for those who served our country when called on to do so.

The statistic that there are 22 veteran suicides each day is quoted often, but was arrived at by a flawed method.  The researchers said, “It is recommended that the estimated number of veterans be interpreted with caution due to the use of data from a sample of states and existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.” *

It does not really matter if the VA or the CDC or anyone else can get the number right.  What we know for sure is that the VA does not use proven methods to help those who may be in trouble.  Here is a real conversation between myself and my psychiatrist at my last visit about a week ago.

Her: When do you want to come back?
Me: Four months as usual.
Her: How about two considering the circumstances?
Me: Why should I come back when I am in trouble when you cannot help me when I need you most? The State of Tennessee and the VA have tied your hands.  Your only option is to do what the UN has called a violation of my human and civil rights.  Forced treatment behind locked doors and taking my clothes away only makes me know for sure I will never tell you if I really need your help.  There are no safe houses here run by the VA.  I will see you in four months if I make it.

That was a true and truthful exchange.  Put safe houses into a search engine or peer supports for suicidal persons.  The VA here and in many places is not even using what we know works best.  No wonder so many of us are dying by our own hands.

© Ed Cooper, November 12, 2015, Stoney Creek, Tennessee
All rights reserved

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