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VA Secretary Claims the VA is Making Progress Against Veteran Suicide

PTSDog      Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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On January 14, 2019, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie published a piece of bloviated self aggrandizement reeking so mightily of actual BULLSHIT, it’s a wonder the Internet didn’t set itself on fire. The headline, “The VA is making real progress on suicide prevention for veterans.” at least puts the blatant lie up front, so we know going into the piece that we’re not going to see anything but collective ass-covering and backpedaling.

 

Well, Mr. Wilkie, let’s look at your claims …

     First of all, the average number of Veteran suicides per day, which the VA readjusted to 20 down from the original number of 22 announced in the initial report on Veteran suicide in 2014, has not actually been reduced at all. In fact, when you analyze the study itself, it’s fatally flawed: the survey takes in only 21 of the 50 states, none of which had a large number of military facilities in them: of note, Texas, California, and the Carolinas were not included in the survey. Additionally, US territories were not included.

 

     If you simply extrapolate, taking the number 20, and doubling it, which almost gets us to 50 states, we’re probably getting closer to the actual number of Veteran suicides per day. Throw in the territories and the last eight states, a realistic number may be closer to 60.

 

     The VA, by the way, reduced the numbers of Veteran suicides from 22 to 20 by changing the parameters of the analysis of the same study. That’s right, they didn’t like the answer they got, so they moved the goalposts. Or maybe they decided to change it because Veteran groups picked up that number, 22, and ran with it, starting grass-roots efforts to create peer-to-peer resources hell bent on attacking the Veteran Suicide pandemic head on, in a manner only trained warriors know how to attack.

 

     So I ask, Mr. Secretary Wilkie, as we watch your nose grow visibly when you respond to questions about Veteran Suicide, why move the goal? Is it because the Veteran groups who have taken up the mantle of the number 22 and pushed forward to support their brethren are making you look bad?

 

Check out this article: https://www.militarytimes.com/veterans/2018/06/25/va-backs-off-suicide-study-which-indicated-thousands-of-unreported-military-deaths/

 

     Yet more evidence that, instead of actually making progress in combating Veteran suicide, the VA is invested in “changing definitions,” to align with their rosy self-image. If the VA, corporately, can “see no evil,” then that evil must not exist, right?

 

     Perhaps that explains the VA’s lack of effort to spend millions of dollars earmarked specifically for suicide awareness outreach: https://www.stripes.com/news/va-leaves-nearly-5-million-unused-in-2018-campaign-to-battle-suicide-watchdog-finds-1.561146

 

     In his piece, Wilkie says, “Put simply, suicide prevention is much more than intervention at the point of crisis – it is about creating and fostering cultures where veterans and their families thrive.”  Then start treating Veterans, Mr. Wilkie. From our perspective, the VA’s attitude is to “delay, deny until we die.”

 

     I can speak from personal experience. I have been denied life changing surgery due to administrative decisions. Surgery that would improve my quality of life, and help relieve chronic, often crippling, pain, because of a actuarial decision by a beaurocrat. This was not a medical decision. It was a bureaucratic decision. So I continue in chronic pain. I wake up some mornings barely able to walk. Because a bean counter established a policy that prevents me from getting surgery.

 

     With “help” like this, why bother? Pile on top of that, the difficulties of additional disabilities (PTSD, personally), and the VA’s resistance to effective treatments (My PTSD Service Dog), and you find that many, many Veterans live in a world where the real battle began when they got home from war.

 

     The good news is that Veterans won’t stop reaching out to one another, won’t stop offering support, and will not stop showing each other new ways forward. We did it while we served. It’s what we know, and no Veteran, none of us, was trained to quit. We are warriors. We fight.

 

     Secretary Wilkie, no one is buying your last-minute, “cover your ass” bullshit. We live in the real world, not the insular world of Washington D.C., where sycophants feed you what they think you want to hear.

 

     The VA is not making progress in the fight against Veteran suicide.

 

     The VA keeps changing the parameters of how they read the exact same study in order to project themselves in a better light.

 

     Veterans are making progress.

 

     Veterans are reaching out to one another, building networks, sharing information with one another, educating one another, and advocating for one another.

 

     Veterans are battling, and make no mistake, it’s a battle, to make that number fall from 22 to zero, and it’s Veterans, not the VA, who will create a positive change. The VA’s still too busy trying to manage their optics. That’s fine. You cover your asses. We’ll save one another in spite of you.

 

Article written by: PTSDog - DV & DV Radio's Expert Service Animal Whispererer...er.

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