I am a major supporter of TWLOHA, which stands for To Write Love On Her Arms. It is a non-for-profit organization to help teenagers and young adults write love over the scars of self mutilation and abuse. Each person has a beautiful story and I eagerly await my soldiers deployment so that I may travel with TWLOHA (Its something that I’ve always felt I had to do alone, and what with him being gone it will be amazing.)
But this post is not to repeat Renee Yohl’s miraculous story. Its to give facts and statistics about post-deployment. I realize not everyone is at the stage I am, dreading and accepting the military at a relatively slow pace. If anything, it will give my soldier and I the base we need to survive. So here is what I’ve dug up.
- 8% of men and 20% of women will develop PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) after witnessing a traumatic event (not specified if this is combat related)
Experts think PTSD occurs:
- In about 30% of Vietnam veterans, or about 30 out of 100 Vietnam veterans.
- In as many as 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans, or in 10 veterans out of 100.9
- In about 6% to 11% of veterans of the Afghanistan war (Enduring Freedom), or in 6 to 11 veterans out of 100.
- In about 12% to 20% of veterans of the Iraq war (Iraqi Freedom), or in 12 to 20 veterans out of 100
Here is a great resource (possibly a handout that you can receive by going to your service members base or FRG.)
I’ve read through some parts of it and it will open your eyes that reintegration into a civilian lifestyle is not easy for any soldier. There are things he/she saw overseas that they will not want to speak about, due to shame. I have not been through any of this, being as I lived in a completely civilian household where the soldiers had completed basic and never deployed.
Looking at those words on my screen…. Its hard for me to even type about it. We talk about civilian suicide and we mourn their loss but… A soldier committing suicide is like… a taboo subject. You have to forgive me, I am at a loss for words as I read.
32 soldiers killed themselves in June 2010. This is the highest rate since Vietnam. 21 were active duty, 11 were National Guard or Army Reserve in inactive status.
7 killed themselves overseas while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
145 soldiers have committed suicide this year, which is more than half of the numbers reported for the record breaking year of 2009 (245 soldiers).
Here is the embed code for the video that they are now showing to soldiers during basic and annual training, especially after this record breaking month.
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Suicide Warning Signs:
- Appearing depressed or sad most of the time.
(Untreated depression is the number one cause for suicide.)
- Talking or writing about death or suicide.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Feeling helpless.
- Feeling strong anger or rage.
- Feeling trapped — like there is no way out of a situation.
- Experiencing dramatic mood changes.
- Abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Exhibiting a change in personality.
- Acting impulsively.
- Losing interest in most activities.
- Experiencing a change in sleeping habits.
- Experiencing a change in eating habits.
- Losing interest in most activities.
- Performing poorly at work or in school.
- Giving away prized possessions.
- Writing a will.
- Feeling excessive guilt or shame.
- Acting recklessly.
It should be noted that some people who die by suicide do not show any suicide warning signs.
If you see ANY of these signs in a loved one, your soldier, or your self, GET HELP IMMEDIATELY. You are not a weaker person because you struggle. You are not alone. You don’t always have to be ARMY STRONG but you cannot give up on your life. Soldiers take a vow (as mentioned in the video) to
I will always place the mission first.
I will never accept defeat.
I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade.
Your mission is to LIVE.
To commit suicide is to accept your own personal defeats without putting up a fight to prove yourself wrong.
When you commit, you not only give up on yourself, but you give up on your parents, your friends, the man standing to the left and to the right of you.
You become the fallen comrade; you cannot leave yourself behind.
Reach out. Get help. Talk. It really is the best thing you can do for yourself.