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Support our Veterans!

 

World news: Last U.S. combat team has just left Iraq. Our deepest gratitude goes to the military men and women who have spent months and years defending our homeland. They are finally coming back home.

Sadly, many of the veterans have post-traumatic stress disorder and may have difficulty adjusting back to civilian life.

If you are a veteran or you know someone who came back from active duty and has trouble with memories and experiences of the war - please call our hotline at
1-877-VET-2-VET
(1-877-838-2838).

If you are a veteran, and would like to support your fellow combatants by providing a few hours of online support every month , please email volunteer@hopeline.com . We provide free training and it will help dozens of men and women heal and go back to daily activities with their loved one.

For only 33¢ a day support our hotlines and help train peer to peer veteran volunteers .

 

Kristin Brooks Hope Center Receives $100,000 Grant from Chase at the U.S. Capitol, Funds Used for Veteran Suicide Prevention Program

Washington DC, Chase presented a $100,000 grant to the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, founders of 877-VET2VET on the front lawn of the US Capitol today. Receiving that grant was Reese Butler, Founder and CEO of Kristin Brooks Hope Center and Frank Warren, founder of PostSecret whose community of 6 million strong delivered the 2 nd place win in the latest Chase Community Giving Challenge. Also on hand to both witness this event and speak about the need for more services to support our active duty military and veteran communities was U.S. Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee. Also speaking were US Congressmen; Leonard Boswell, D-IA 3 rd , Harry Teague, D-NM 2 nd , Walter Jones, R-NC 3 rd , and Tom Rooney,R- FL 16 th . Peter Scher, Exec. VP of JPMorgan Chase Government Relations presented the grant.

Also speaking were Cindy McGrew founder of Operation Second Chance and Jill Harrington LaMorie, Director, Professional Education for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

Chase Community Giving recently announced the charities that will receive a portion of the $5 million in grants from Chase through the Chase Community Giving program on the Facebook® platform. The Kristin Brooks Hope Center received the second highest number of votes through the support of the 6 million people strong PostSecret Community, the viewers on Stickam.com, To Write Love On Her Arms and Hopeline supporters. KBHC plans to use the grant towards the training of U.S. veterans as peer-to-peer crisis intervention counselors.

“With the suicide rate outpacing combat deaths, the active duty and veteran communities has reached a critical crisis” stated Reese Butler. Since 2003, when KBHC created the nation's first veteran peer counseling network of support, the issue of preventing suicide in military communities has been a focus of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center.

 

Veterans Affairs Department joins California in allowing medical marijuana

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has announced that it will permit patients at its VA hospitals to use medical marijuana in the states that have declared medical marijuana legal. Specifically, the new "Directive" from the VA's Veterans Health Administration provides that "VHA policy does not prohibit Veterans who use medical marijuana from participating in VHA substance abuse programs, pain control programs, or other clinical programs where the use of marijuana may be considered inconsistent with treatment goals."  The VA's Directive states that "patients participating in state medical marijuana programs must not be denied VHA services." However, the Directive declares that the VA will not provide medical marijuana to its patients, nor pay for their medical marijuana prescriptions filled elsewhere.

14 states , including California , permit the medical use of marijuana.  The District of Columbia also passed a medical marijuana measure in May, and it is currently before the Congress for a mandatory review period.  However, the VA faced a dilemma in that marijuana is a "controlled substance" under federal law , and its possession, use, and distribution are therefore illegal under any circumstances, even for medical purposes.  As the VA's Directive indicates, states that permit medical pot are in violation of federal law.  Nevertheless, in October 2009, U.S Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Obama administration would not prosecute people who were using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.  The VA's Directive on medical marijuana is therefore in line with Holder's previous announcement.

In addition to California's medical marijuana law, California voters will have a chance to vote this November on a statewide ballot initiative that, if passed, would legalize the possession and use of small amounts marijuana by adults for any purpose, not just medical needs.  However, it remains to be seen how the Obama administration would react to such a law.

 

VA Warns Veterans of Telephone Prescription Scam

 

VA Launches 10-Year Health Study of Recent Veterans

 

Suicide by Guard, Reserve Troops Studied

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

(02-12) 12:27 PST WASHINGTON, (AP) --

More than half of all veterans who took their own lives after returning from Iraq or Afghanistan were members of the National Guard or Reserves, according to new government data that prompted activists on Tuesday to call for a closer examination of the problem.

A Department of Veterans Affairs analysis of ongoing research of deaths among veterans of both wars - obtained by The Associated Press - found that Guard or Reserve members accounted for 53 percent of the veteran suicides from 2001, when the war in Afghanistan began, through the end of 2005.

The research, conducted by the department's Office of Environmental Epidemiology, provides the first demographic look at suicides among veterans from those wars who left the military.

Joe Davis, public affairs director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said the Pentagon and VA must combine efforts to track suicides among those who have served in those countries in order to get a clearer picture of the problem. "To fix a problem, you have to define it first," Davis said.

At certain times in 2005, members of the Guard and Reserve made up nearly half the troops fighting in Iraq. Overall, they were nearly 28 percent of all U.S. military forces deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or in support of the operations, according to Defense Department data through the end of 2007.

Many Guard members and Reservists have done multiple tours that kept them away from home for 18 months, and that is taking a toll, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said in a statement Tuesday.

"Until this administration understands that repeated and prolonged deployments are stretching our brave men and women to the brink, we will continue to see these tragic figures," Murray said.

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the military's effort to re-screen Guard and Reservists for mental and physical problems three months after they return home is a positive step, but a more long-term, comprehensive approach is needed to help them.

"National Guardsman and Reservists are literally in Baghdad in one week and in Brooklyn the next, and that transition is incredibly tough," Rieckhoff said.

The VA has said there does not appear to be an epidemic of suicide among returning veterans, and that suicide among the newer veterans is comparable to the same demographic group in the general population. However, an escalating suicide rate in the Army, as well as high-profile suicides such as the death of Joshua Omvig - an Iowa Reservist who shot himself in front of his mother in December 2005 after an 11-month tour in Iraq - have alarmed some members of Congress and advocates.

In November, President Bush signed the Joshua Omvig suicide prevention bill, which directed the VA to improve its mental health training for staff and do a better job of screening and treating veterans.

According to the VA's research, 144 veterans committed suicide from the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, through the end of 2005. Of those, 35 veterans, or 24 percent, served in the Reserves and 41, or 29 percent, had served in the National Guard. Sixty-eight - or 47 percent - had been in the regular military.

Statistics from 2006 and 2007 were not yet available, the VA said, because the study was based in part on data from the National Death Index, which is still being compiled.

Among the total population of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have been discharged from the military, nearly half are formerly regular military and a little more than half were in the Guard and Reserves, according to the VA.

Among those studied, more than half of the veterans who committed suicide were aged 20 to 29. Nearly three-quarters used a firearm to take their lives. Nearly 82 percent were white.

About one in five was seen at least once at a VA facility.

Last year, the VA started a suicide hot line. The VA and the military have also made other improvements in suicide prevention care, such as hiring more counselors and increasing mental health screening.

"The challenge is getting people to come to us before they commit suicide, knowing they can come and get help and knowing they have access to those resources," said Alison Aikele, a VA spokeswoman.

The VA study does not include those who committed suicide in the war zones or those who remained in the military after returning home from war.

Last year, the Army said its suicide rate in 2006 rose to 17.3 per 100,000 troops, the highest level in 26 years of record-keeping. The Army said recently that as many as 121 soldiers committed suicide last year. If all are confirmed, the number would be more than double the number reported in 2001.

Some mental health advocates have complained that there is no comprehensive tracking in one place of suicide among those who served in the wars, whether they are still in the military or discharged.

In October, the AP reported that preliminary VA research found that from the start of the war in Afghanistan in October 2001 and the end of 2005, a total of 283 troops who had served in the wars and later were discharged from the military had committed suicide.

The VA later said the number was reduced to 144 because some of the veterans counted were actually in the active military and not discharged when they died.
___

On the Net:

Veterans Affairs Department: www.va.gov/

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America: www.iava.org/

 

An open letter to veterans and their families:

Welcome to QPR training!

Like CPR training, QPR training will prepare you to assist someone in a suicide crisis.

The goal of this training is to teach you to help prevent a suicide, whether it is a family member, a friend, a co-worker or a veteran like yourself.

We are also concerned about you.

Because of your possible exposure to combat, trauma, violence and death, research has shown that veterans may be at greater risk for suicide than non-veterans. While some veterans are at higher risk for suicide than others, a single veteran lost to suicide is one too many.

A scientific article recently study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health (2007)* found that, “Veterans in the general U.S. population, whether or not they are affiliated with the VA, are at an elevated risk of suicide."

But please note.

Despite these findings, most veterans are healthy, well-functioning people and are not at increased risk for suicide. Because of their training, experience, psychological and physical screening and conditioning, veterans are among the most mentally fit adults in the world.

But military life, and especially combat, can prove extremely stressful. Even return to civilian life can prove more challenging than many soldiers imagined. Some reading this letter may experience symptoms of post traumatic stress and, while this is not the place to go into this subject, experiencing PTSD is associated with increased risk for suicidal thoughts and feelings.

The most common causes for thinking about suicide among veterans include the onset of symptoms of depression, PTSD, drinking too heavily and relationship conflicts – especially if these occur together.

The QPR Institute, its staff and faculty are concerned about the health and welfare of the fighting men and women who have served this country in war and in peacetime. While this training is designed primarily to help you help someone you know it is also designed to help you help yourself. We have provided links to a variety of helpful resources designed and intended to be used by you and your loved ones in case you need them.

The Staff and Faculty of the QPR Institute

A personal note from the President and CEO of the QPR Institute

I am a veteran (US Army 1960-63). My two brothers are veterans. The youngest served a combat tour in Vietnam in 1968 and experienced war as many of you or maybe a loved one has. He struggled with PTSD, depression and alcohol after the war but made it through and is doing fine now.

My father fought in World War II and my great grandfather fought in the Civil War. All my uncles fought in WW II; Air Force, Navy and Army. One uncle was killed in combat in Italy.

I tell you this because I am proud of my family and proud to have served this great country of ours. I also tell you this because when I learn that another veteran died by suicide I take it personally.

Death in combat is not always avoidable, suicide is. Together we must all learn what to do to prevent suicide and how to do it quickly and well. Learning QPR is one step forward.

Thank you for your service. Be well, be safe.

Paul Quinnett, Ph.D.
President and CEO
QPR Institute

*Kaplan MS, Huguet N, McFarland H, Newsom JT. Suicide Among Male Veterans: A Prospective Population-Based Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, online ahead of print, June 11, 2007.

Getting a Fair, Thorough and Accurate VA Disability Evaluation

Guidelines for Veterans

This pamphlet provides essential information about ways to minimize the  pitfalls that can be associated with the disability evaluation process. It addresses  the steps veterans may take to avoid undermining their success in being  awarded a deserved disability rating. Information included in the pamphlet is  geared toward those traumatized by life-threatening situations and who may have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) individuals who have other emotional or physical difficulties.

Individuals who have emotional or physical difficulties other than PTSD  may find this pamphlet useful with regard to documentation of events surrounding the development of physical or emotional difficulties, and how these difficulties impact you and those around you. This pamphlet may help you think about how you will discuss your difficulties with an examiner – especially the importance of talking, openly and honestly, with the examiner about your problems.

Download the pamphlet
PDF reader required.