US Reserve and National Guard Suicides

#1
Hi Sorry if this is in the wrong place, I hope I've done this right, its an article outlining a study into suicide within the reserve and National guard, some parallels to UK TA and Reserve I fear.

VA Studying Guard, Reserve Suicides
Associated Press | February 12, 2008
WASHINGTON - National Guard and Reserve troops who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan make up more than half of veterans who committed suicide after returning home from those wars, according to new government data obtained by The Associated Press.

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

The research, conducted by the agency's Office of Environmental Epidemiology, provides the first demographic look at suicides among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who left the military - a situation that veterans and mental health advocates worry might worsen as the wars drag on.

Military leaders have leaned heavily on Guard and Reserve troops in the wars. 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 data from the Defense Department through the end of 2007.

Many Guard members and Reservists have done multiple tours that kept them away from home for 18 months. When they returned home, some who live far away from a military installation or VA facility have encountered difficulty getting access to mental health counseling or treatment, activists have said.

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, said the study's findings reinforce the argument that Guard and Reserve troops need more help as they transition back into the civilian world. 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, Rieckhoff said, but a more long-term comprehensive approach is needed to help these troops - particularly in their first six months home.

"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 Iraq and Afghanistan 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 mental health 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 hotline. 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 be still in the military or discharged.

In October, the AP reported that preliminary research from the VA had found that from the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001, and the end of 2005, 283 troops who served in the wars who had been 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 committed suicide.

---

The toll-free Veterans Affairs Department suicide hotline number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Take advantage of record low rates - Refinance today!

Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.

Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 
#2
If that is the case and the USA have a 24 month Vets programme, we don't, does that mean there could be many here in the TAVR who are at risk?

I know it is claimed that some 350 have killed themselves since the Falklands, as reported by the Indipendant newspaper and others.

Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
 
#3
CharlieBubbles said:
Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
It does, but when you come through Chilwell you get a veritable forest-felling amount of paperwork with contact numbers, details etc.

Each Unit has an Ops O, who should be doing interviews with everyone who is returning.

msr
 
#4
msr said:
CharlieBubbles said:
Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
It does, but when you come through Chilwell you get a veritable forest-felling amount of paperwork with contact numbers, details etc.

Each Unit has an Ops O, who should be doing interviews with everyone who is returning.

msr
I am only too well aware what is supposed to happen, however in discussion with local members of the TAVR, it rarely happens.

As for the paperwork, do they really expect anyone to say they maybe suffering from some form of Combat Stress and then expect to get any real treatments on the NHS at present?
The regulars get Drug and Drink presentations, I don't suppose it has changed that much since I use to give them in UK and BAOR, they were seen more as a joke!
All in the unit are supposed to look at and check one another, so who is checking the checkers?

And for those in the TAVR who are back to work in their civilian jobs, who is looking after their concerns, especially if they begin to drop out of training nights and weekends?

Just a thought or three. ..
 
#5
msr said:
CharlieBubbles said:
Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
It does, but when you come through Chilwell you get a veritable forest-felling amount of paperwork with contact numbers, details etc.

Each Unit has an Ops O, who should be doing interviews with everyone who is returning.

msr
Really?
 
#6
WhiteHorse said:
msr said:
CharlieBubbles said:
Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
It does, but when you come through Chilwell you get a veritable forest-felling amount of paperwork with contact numbers, details etc.

Each Unit has an Ops O, who should be doing interviews with everyone who is returning.

msr
Really?
That is what the Mod are saying, I have a letter saying the very same, however, in reality and talking with a professor who trains GP's, the reality is very different, as the policy and practice are not joined up YET!
 
#7
CharlieBubbles said:
msr said:
CharlieBubbles said:
Does more need to be done to put in place the checks and balances for all those who are TAVR, when they no longer have the 24/7 team support?
It does, but when you come through Chilwell you get a veritable forest-felling amount of paperwork with contact numbers, details etc.

Each Unit has an Ops O, who should be doing interviews with everyone who is returning.

msr
I am only too well aware what is supposed to happen, however in discussion with local members of the TAVR, it rarely happens.

As for the paperwork, do they really expect anyone to say they maybe suffering from some form of Combat Stress and then expect to get any real treatments on the NHS at present?
The regulars get Drug and Drink presentations, I don't suppose it has changed that much since I use to give them in UK and BAOR, they were seen more as a joke!
All in the unit are supposed to look at and check one another, so who is checking the checkers?

And for those in the TAVR who are back to work in their civilian jobs, who is looking after their concerns, especially if they begin to drop out of training nights and weekends?

Just a thought or three. ..
You have hit the nail on the head there, I am very concerned that too many TA/reservists drop out and we don't see them again let alone help them.
Oh they get a letter, "Where's your kit" and "you are discharged for failing to attend"
 
#8
Perhaps I am being a little cynical over the issue of EX forces Mental Health be they regular or TA!
But all I am hearing concerns me greatly and there is a real problem building and no one there to help those who will be soon "At Risk".
In a civvi job, who even cares that someone has been in combat, never mind not understanding what they have endured at a TAVR soldier.
The Mod does not care for those who have left the service, okay for those still in the TA they do have Chillwell and for the regular they have St Thomas's in London, BUT they are ONLY assessments for those attending, it is then up to their GP to treat or forward to CMHT!
As an ex regular there is Combat Stress, where now an individual can Self Refer, but for the TAVR, I really don't know, although could ask, if there is anyone who wants to know?
 
#9
CharlieBubbles said:
Perhaps I am being a little cynical over the issue of EX forces Mental Health be they regular or TA!
But all I am hearing concerns me greatly and there is a real problem building and no one there to help those who will be soon "At Risk".
In a civvi job, who even cares that someone has been in combat, never mind not understanding what they have endured at a TAVR soldier.
The Mod does not care for those who have left the service, okay for those still in the TA they do have Chillwell and for the regular they have St Thomas's in London, BUT they are ONLY assessments for those attending, it is then up to their GP to treat or forward to CMHT!
As an ex regular there is Combat Stress, where now an individual can Self Refer, but for the TAVR, I really don't know, although could ask, if there is anyone who wants to know?
I'd like to know, I've seen some horror stories and one guy committed suicide not 500 metres from where I was sitting.
 
#10
Copy of email sent to clinical lead at Combat Stress
Tony,

I hope you and yours are well?
http://www.arrse.co.uk/cpgn2/Forums/viewtopic/t=89177.html

I have been looking at and having impute into the above thread.

As the ex regular has Combat Stress, who do the TAVR have, especially now given they are being deployed the same as their regular counterparts.

I am aware they have Chillwell, but what about those who have dropped out from the TAVR for what ever their reason, who do they have apart from a GP?

I do fear there is a real gap in services for the EX TAVR soldier, given there are still gaps for the ex regular in getting Mental Health treatments. This of course is not helped in the cuts nationally of Mental Health care both acute and in the community. As well as locally the Drop In Centre here in Nth Lincs has been closed for some time now and the only perceived option is MIND in Scunthorpe and only then if you are on a public transport route.

As most GP’s because there is no joined up thinking will fill the individual with prescription medication making him / her unable to drive, many are being allowed to go home and fend for themselves. And lets not forget with every individual, if they have a family, all of this has a direct effect on them to and as yet no one seems to have taken that on board!

Could you please tell me where the ex TAVR soldier could get the help for Service Related Combat Stress?

Many thanks
Charlie B
 

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