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Synopsis

With Veteran Suicide on the rise, Author Leilani Anastasia takes a heartfelt look on how to recognize it and what to do about it. This book explores not only the reasons that many Veterans commit suicide but also ways on how to prevent it. She outlines different types of treatments as well as how to recognize the signs of someone who is suicidal. She also takes a look at how our current society’s treatment of Veterans is a possible trigger for Veterans to kill themselves. This book is a must-read for anyone who is in a relationship with a Combat Vet.


Chapter 6

Back To The Front

One of the things that I am finding while talking to Combat Vets is that they experience all different kinds of guilt in their survival. There’s this big trick bag of guilt – guilt for doing what they had to do, guilt for surviving, guilt for not being able to function in the civilian world – guilt for just about EVERYTHING! One Veteran, Trevor (last name withheld for confidentially reasons), told me, “I will say that a lot of times, I wish I could’ve taken the place of some of my brothers that got killed. I think the question, ‘why them, and not me’ comes into all of our heads that’s been in combat and lost people. Why did they disserve to die, and me to live? We give our lives to a nation that so easily discards us. Sometimes I wonder what’s the point? We do unthinkable things for an ungrateful nation.” Isn’t that about the God-awful truth, too?

We’ve got these Warriors who are now mentally and physically wounded because of the War that they have been in and yet we, as a nation, are very ungrateful to them for their service – and they know it! Since Vietnam, we’ve had protests, disrespectful actions on behalf of the populace and the media and just flat out LACK OF SUPPORT that are directed towards our Warriors – ALL FOR COMPLETING THEIR MISSION! Our nation has taken men and women that were considered heroes during the time of World War II and have now labeled them as “Zeros”. Why wouldn’t you consider suicide an option if you are treated so poorly? I mean, how can you blame a guy (or gal) that is treated with so much disrespect, has health issues, anger issues and all kinds of problems to not view suicide as a solution? The answer to this is YOU CANNOT! However, I believe that there are ways that we can take these aspects into account and accomplish OUR MISSION of ENDING Veteran Suicide!

Another Vet who wishes to remain anonymous told me about his own plight and exploration into suicide. He said “The local government was trying to break me. They threw me in jail for anything they could. I built five suicide machines. I had them lined up in my living room and was trying to figure out which one to use. But in the end, I was just sitting in my bed with my gun in my mouth. I didn’t want to use the machines. BUT I JUST COULDN’T PULL THE TRIGGER!”

This is yet just another example of why Veterans are committing suicide other than the typical reasons. Sure, we might expect a Veteran to lose his shit when his wife leaves him and takes the kids, the cat and the dog. However, what about the other issues that a Combat Veteran has to face besides the familial ones? Often our Veterans are hurt in both body and mind. Sometimes the health problems are so overwhelming that the Veteran cannot work. We’ve got Veterans having their homes foreclosed on. We’ve got Veterans who (let’s face it) have a very hard time listening to ANYONE besides someone who is their senior in the Military due to their training. We’ve got Veterans who have legal problems that aren’t always due to alcohol or drug issues. I’ve heard more than one story of a Veteran who is having problems because of the belief on behalf of the legal system that the Veteran’s service has created a monster and not a hero.

The problem is so extensive that the Kane County Illinois Bar Association has even sponsored an article on it. In the article titled “Entrenched in Legal Issues at Home: Why Our Veterans Need More Support” by Attorney Shaina Simone Kalanges, it states: “Furthermore, it is sometimes difficult for those in authority positions to understand the mindset of veterans who are suffering from PTSD or other stress disorders when faced with incarceration.” The article goes on to further state: “While the military and the VA have made a concerted effort to identify, treat and create awareness of PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), combat related stress disorders and other psychological disorders that can arise from being deployed, there is still a lot that the medical field, legal field and law enforcement field have to learn about what veterans are suffering from, the number of veterans who are affected and the best way to respond.”

The thought of incarceration weighs very heavily on a Combat Veteran’s mind. When faced with massive legal problems, it is not surprising that many of them choose to commit suicide instead of face their issues. Jail is hard enough as it is – imagine being a person that was trained to escape a prisoner of war scenario. The combination is just no good for anybody. Likewise, I really don’t get what law enforcement is trying to accomplish by incarcerating Veterans who are suffering from Combat PTSD. What are they trying to accomplish? Are they trying to teach the PTSD a lesson? “BAD PTSD! Don’t come out anymore!” Instead, what they need to do is address the issues of Combat PTSD and minor legal matters. I find it quite interesting that they jail Veterans for minor crimes INSTEAD of getting them help down at the VA. Wouldn’t it be far more productive to send the Vet to the VA for an assessment and possible hospitalization?

Unfortunately, there’s many reasons that make a Veteran want to take his (or her) own life. Just in these two stories alone we hear two reasons for suicide – the guilt that comes with survival and the inability for a Warrior to believe that he will overcome the adversity that he was facing since returning to the civilian life. Both are different sides of the coin however both have the same negative outcome if not addressed – another dead Veteran.

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Leilani Anastasia

MOUNT CLEMENS, USA

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