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For emergency... immediate help CALL: 911 or the VA Crisis Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) press 1 for Veterans

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…

1-800-905-4675 (Eastern)
1-866-496-8838 (Pacific)

Author's Opinion

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.

 

 

Many of our veteran warriors and their families need our help... Today!

We all  have neighbors, co-workers, various close relationships, friends of friends, and family members that may know of a veteran that needs immediate attention.  Be alert and aware of the signs and symptoms of suicidal ideation (thoughts verbalized and odd behaviors that may make you wonder about the possibility of the veteran harming or killing him or herself). Family and friends... intervention save lives! Please act on it. My book and website has many answers to your questions...read on.

Suicide Prevention is the Key!

This website is intended as a forum to help with this mission.

After spending years working in mental health and substance abuse outpatient clinics from California to New York and working on the VA Medical Centers National Suicide Crisis Hotline in NewYork, everyday I witnessed the emotional cries of anger and rage, from the gut level, men and women being tormented with the feeling of hopelessness, abandonment and physical and mental illnesses beyond their ability to cope. Everyday I heard despairing voices saying, "I have nothing to live for." Veterans of all ages were calling in suffering from all descriptions of mental health issues and discomforts coming home from the war zones… feeling broken down, spiritually bankrupt and many felt they were left for fodder; discarded and abandoned. I read a recent investigative report that said "...on any given night, nearly 180,000 veterans are counted among the homeless". This is unconscienable. Vic

 

Updated every week.

 
Vic_Montgomery

Watch Vic's interview Google 'YouTube' Truthout.org.

INTERVIEW FEATURE PIECE ON AUTHOR VICTOR MONTGOMERY AND HIS BOOK, 'HEALING SUICIDAL VETERANS

 

The Message Center: Vets and Concerned Family Members... write to me or e-mail me from this website!

Write to me. Let me know how you feel. Do you know a vet close to you that is depressed, isolating, or threatening to end his or her own life?... If this is the case please call for immediate VA help and crisis intervention 1-800-273-8255 press 1 for veterans.

If the situaton you are concerned about does not appear to be an emergency or urgent, but you are seeking more information about what you can do for yourself or to help someone you care about... send me a written letter or an e-mail. Instructions and mailing address are located in the "Message Center Section" of this website and I will respond;  privately, confidentially and personally.

Senators Tell VA to Reduce Veteran Suicides

By Rob Hotakainen |
McClatchy Newspapers May 25, 2011

WASHINGTON — With veterans now accounting for one of every five suicides in the nation, the Department of Veterans Affairs is under pressure from the courts and Congress to fix its mental health services in an attempt to curb the death toll.

"The suicide rate is out of control. It's epidemic proportions right now," said Paul Rieckhoff, the executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. "There are very few programs that are effective, and there's a serious lack of national awareness."

While the government keeps no official tally of veteran suicides, the VA said last year that veterans account for roughly 20 percent of the estimated 30,000 suicides annually in the United States.

Government Fails to Perform Its Obligations

The latest attack on the VA came two weeks ago from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which ordered a major overhaul of the agency. The court said that with an average of 18 veterans killing themselves each day, "the VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough; no more veterans should be compelled to agonize or perish while the government fails to perform its obligations."

New York Nurses Network Magazine - Spring 2010 - Vic's Book - Recommended Read

" ...Montgomery gives advice on fighting depression and offers resources for veterans and their loved ones...."

The Facts About Suicide Ideation

  • Reasons that veterans commit suicide vary, said Amy Fairweather, director of the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, a clearinghouse of more than 45 agencies serving a myriad of needs associated with deployment in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. "Survivor guilt comes up often and the feeling of not belonging anywhere" also does, she said. Also, she said, they may feel "like they're a fish out of water and are isolated." ( PDA, 2010)
  • Many veterans' fear of being redeployed exacerbates their mental health concerns and sometimes leads to suicidal thoughts, Fairweather said. It's "feeling that utter hopelessness and wanting to escape," she said. Some veterans drink themselves into a stupor so that they don't have to face their nightmares, so they want to escape, and "the ultimate escape is suicide," Fairweather said. (2010)
  • In the three months after Marine Maj. John Ruocco returned from Iraq feeling numb and depressed, he couldn't sleep. He had lost weight. He had nightmares. He was distracted and withdrawn from his two young sons. One night, he promised his wife, Kim, that he would get help. The next morning, he was dead. The 40-year-old Cobra helicopter pilot, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., had hanged himself. (Washington, Associated Press, May 29, 2007)
  • The VA estimates that every year 6,500 veterans take their own lives. The mental health director for the VA, Ira Katz, said in an e-mail last December that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, four to five of them are under VA care, and 12,000 veterans under VA care are attempting suicide each year. (CBS News, 2008)
  • To date, most studies on suicide among veterans have relied on data from those getting health care from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system. However, 75 percent of veterans do not get their health care through the VA. This study included 320,890 men age eighteen and older in the general population, 104,026 of them veterans, whom researchers followed for twelve years. (National Institute of Mental Health, 2007)
  • VA has hired more than 3,900 new mental health employees since 2005 – bringing the total number to more than 17,000. Of these, 400 are devoted to preventing suicide among veterans. (United States Department of Veterans Affairs, 2009)
  • Suicides among soldiers in 2008 rose for the fourth year in a row, reaching the highest level in nearly three decades. (New York Times, 2009)

Vic's Recommended Viewing ...

'The Wounded Platoon' of Charlie Company / PBS.org

A must review for anyone interested or concerned about what our troops are going through in Iraq and Aftganistan. The bloody battles and the emotional scares are witnessed up close and personal. This documentary tells it how it is today. It gets ugly! No bias. Personal interviews on camera with the most embattled troops, commanding generals and psychologists....in the war zones and back home. And the tough questions are asked and answered: "What is happening to our veterans when they return home"; "Why so many deployments?" " Why are so many warriors returning home addicted to alcohol and other drugs." "Why is suicide on the increase?" and "Is the military command and Congress turnng their backs on our men and women in uniform?"

Suicide Prevention for Combat Veterans

“Every day, five U.S. soldiers try to kill themselves”(CNN.com).

HEALING SUICIDAL VETERANS: Recognizing, Supporting and Answering Their Pleas for Help (October 2009, New Horizon Press) is written by Victor Montgomery, III, MAEd., CMAC, RAS, who has worked with thousands of veterans and families as a former crisis intervention therapist at the National Veterans’ Suicide Prevention Lifeline and as an addiction therapist in outpatient clinics.

In HEALING SUICIDAL VETERANS, Montgomery provides,

  • Tips and effective strategies for veterans to cope and heal.
  • Checklists to identify symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and substance abuse.
  • Twelve real-life stories featuring veterans from the Iraq, Afghanistan, Gulf, Beirut, Vietnam and Korean wars.
  • Resources for veterans to seek the help they need.

HEALING SUICIDAL VETERANS is a vital guide for any veteran struggling with suicidal impulses

Other links and Resources for Combat Veterans

The Firebase Network's Veterans Hour started in January 2000 as a means to inform the public of the deplorable treatment our Veterans receive at the hands of the V.A. and their willing assistants, the Congress of the United States, and nearly all chartered NVO's. Through this radio program we have been taking the Veterans Rights issues to the people, we also provide our Veterans and Retired Military Community with helpful information and a voice to air their grievances.

Important Help Lines

Army Families Online
(800) 833-6622
Army Long Term Family Case Management
(866) 272-5841
Army Reserve Warrior and Family Assistance Center
(866) 436-6290
Army Sexual Harassment/Assault
(800) 464-8107
DCoE Outreach Center
(866) 966-1020
DoD Helpline
(800) 796-9699
Marine Corps Community Services OIF Helpline
(866) 227-2708
Military OneSource 24/7 Help Center
(800) 342-9647
Military Severely Injured Center
(888) 774-1361
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office
(800) 342-9647
Wounded Warrior Resource Center Call Center
(800) 342-9647
Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline
(800) 984-8523