2012 Welcome Home! Thank You for Serving Our Great Country
Welcome Veterans... Family and Friends!
You have come to this website with a purpose in mind. You are not alone in your journey to search for HOPE. Thousands of war zone warriors and their loved ones are looking for answers to the complex questions about the devastating effects of 'combat trauma' and mental health. The studies show a large percentage of men and women combat veterans are disoriented, confused and disillusioned by the ravages of war trauma and the psychological wounds and mental health disabilities that dominate their very being when they returned home from the war zones, forever changed. My book Healing Suicidal Veterans and this website offers you hope, encouragement, and supports your pleas for help.- Vic Montgomery
2012 What do studies and statistics say
is happening to our vets?
Suicide Statistics (approximate rates):
1% of Americans have served in the military—yet, 20% of suicides in the U.S. are former service members.
For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
A 2011 Pentagon study found that the rate of hospitalizations among soldiers for suicidal thoughts skyrocketed 7,000 percent in the last five years.
A Special Thank you goes to our VA Hotliners and VA Suicide Prevention Coordinators (SPC)
Welcome and a huge thank you goes to those of you who serve or have served on the National Suicide Crisis Hotline in Canandaigua, New York; and your counterparts the VA Medical Center's Suicide Prevention and Crisis Intervention Coordinators and mental health treatment teams throughout the country. It is all of you that many times are the 'first point of contact' finding saftey for our vets. You are our shining stars! Everyday you answer the calls of desperation. Everyday, 24/7 SPCs follow-up on referrals from the National Suicide Crisis Hotline Hotliners asking them to make immediate contact, by phone or in person, with a depressed and often suicidal veteran. It takes a special kind of professional to work on the front lines for such an important task...saving lives one veteran at a time. Thank You! - Vic (former Hotliner)
Vet Centers Managers and Counselors across the nation...thank you for your service to our nations veterans and their families!
By the end of 2010, there were 300 Vet Centers across the US and surrounding territories (US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa).
Vet Centers' staff understand and appreciate Veterans' war experiences while assisting them and their family members toward a successful post-war adjustment in their community. The majority of Vet Center staff are veterans, with more than 50% having served in combat and over 1/3 of the staff are combat Veterans who served in Iraq and/or Afghanistan
Find a VA Vet Center nearest to you…
The Silent Killer – Mental Health Stigma in the Military - It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to ask for help!
Written by Victor Montgomery, III 2009
It is a known fact, going back to the First World War in 1914, even the toughest of the tough, the ‘true grit’ combat warrior decorated for bravery and valor, over time, can finally succumb to lying on a field hospital cot in the fetal position, with nothing left to give.
Today, in Iraq and Afghanistan, after multiple deployments, unrelenting carnage, loss of buddies and enough emotional traumas to a soldiers’ body, brain and heart, exposure in the killing fields will take its toll. Many warriors say nothing. They suffer in silence. Battle fatigue, shell shock, PTSD, TBI, depression, alcohol dependence and mental health stigma, which ever name you choose, are all silent killers.
It is documented and reported facts that career soldiers and Marines generally don’t step forward out of ranks at early morning muster to go to ‘sick bay’ or to a combat stress center or behavioral health counseling center. Studies indicate combat soldiers don't want to appear weak in front of their combat buddies and many are reluctant to seek help because they don’t want their command to get the idea they can’t do the job. Young officers and platoon leaders who are in leadership positions, in harms way day after day, are responsible for troops but are more worried about putting their military careers in jeopardy than stepping forward for mental health help. "It's a reality that for some — certainly not all, but for some — there's a stigma to stepping forward for behavioral health," Maj. David Cabrera, who runs counseling services at a military hospital in Germany, told The Associated Press.
Dr. Stéphane Guay, director of the Trauma Study Centre at the Fernand-Seguin Research Centre of Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital (2008), said “military personnel are reticent to seek out support for mental disorders for a variety of reasons. Foremost among barriers is a failure to acknowledge any need for services and mistrust of military administrative health and social services.” Dr. Guay added, “… further impediments identified in a recent study were the belief that a condition is temporary or the inability to identify a problem as a mental illness. This was the first study to systematically examine mental health rates and the barriers that prevent military personnel from seeking help.
Deniz Fikretoglu, an expert in post traumatic stress disorder, at McGill University, said, “It is possible to minimize the burden of mental disorders in the military by ensuring that military members who have a mental disorder seek timely, appropriate care.”
We have a problem in our system of health care delivery. Recorded statistics indicate only 25 % of veterans go to the VA for mental health help? Where is the other 75% going for appropriate care?
The Associate Press reported in May 2009, that up to one-fifth of the more than 1.7 million military members who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan are believed to have symptoms of anxiety, depression and other emotional problems. Some studies show that about half of those who need help do not seek it. The enemy is within. The silent killer appears among other things, to be mental illness stigma.
Veterans for Common Sense stated in an editorial, 'Current Challenges for Military and VA' (December 7, 2009)… Sadly, the year 2009 will set another record for suicides among our service members. The suicides are caused by deployment to war, multiple deployments back into combat, a lack of mental health providers, self-discrimination by service members to avoid treatment, and discrimination by officers who downplay mental health conditions or who refuse soldiers’ requests for care.
The Department of Defense, Congressional Committees and Veterans Affairs are all scrambling to find answers to the tragic massacre that took place on Forthood Army base soil on November 5, 2009. The tough questions Congress should be asking are these questions: Do we spend enough time, talent and resources toward military and public education campaigns to de-stigmatize mental health problems? Why are mental illnesses reaching epidemic proportions in the military? Why are so many veterans completing suicides? Why are active duty soldiers and Marine suicides on the increase the last few years? How do we stop or at least dwarf this cataclysm?
So what now? First and foremost, we need Veteran Affairs to make necessary changes in the VA health delivery systems to gain the trust of military members.
We need an action plan! It seems to this reporter it is imperative we assess the effectiveness of existing stigma reduction programs and approaches in the military, including media-oriented approaches for family support and education; such as public service announcements.
We need to examine the role of media in perpetuating and changing mental illness stigma. Military institutions should continue public education campaigns to de-stigmatize mental health problems.
We need a plan to develop innovative new active military and veteran programs and approaches; it is critical to incorporate plans and establish realistic goals to include partnerships with advocate organizations, communities, state and local agencies with practical expertise in developing and implementing stigma reduction programs and strategies. Recruit social, behavioral, and communication professionals with expertise in stigma research design and methodology.
We need collaboration - exchange with public stakeholders and organizations to improve the accuracy of public awareness about effective treatments for mental disorders.
Our men and women in uniform and veterans at home must be educated, trained, and made aware of the programs available to assist them in overcoming these mental illness stigmas.