Veterans And Suicide: How Can We Help Solve This Growing Problem?

Veterans And Suicide: How Can We Help Solve This Growing Problem?

Even if you think you are one person and therefore have no power, I encourage you to reconsider.
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Our society as a whole has a positive view of veterans. We thank them for their service and cheer when local bands play military themes. So why do 22 veterans commit suicide every day? Having not been in a war myself, I cannot pretend to understand the horrors of battle. But I do know that this is an issue that affects not only veterans, but our nation as a whole. We need to do a better job of offering care and support to those brave enough to serve our country.

No medical professional can deny that veteran PTSD and suicide is a growing problem. According to the RAND foundation, at least 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have depression and/or post traumatic stress disorder. And the same study found that 19 percent of veterans may have traumatic brain injury. When compared to regular civilians, male and female veterans have a significant increase in relative risk for suicide. My own grandfather had PTSD after fighting in World War II. My dad told me my grandpa came in one day after the war, visibly shaken. He said "Mary [my grandma], can you go look in the back and tell me that there's no Japanese soldiers there?" Obviously, this is a serious and dark matter.

So what can we do? It might surprise you to know that both the Senate and the House of Representatives voted unanimously in favor of a bill in regards to this issue. The Senate voted 99-0 and the House voted 403-0 in favor of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act , and President Obama signed it into law on Feb. 3 of this year. This law is named in the honor of a former veteran who committed suicide. The law gives veterans greater access to mental health care in hopes to reduce the number of suicides. And while this is a step in the right direction, it still does not completely solve the problem.

I am a member of a Facebook group called Buddy Check 22. It is a group that encourages each member to call a veteran on the 22nd of every month just to check in and say hi. This may not seem like a life-changing gesture, but one phone call could show a veteran that you care about him or her. In addition, some non-profits help to curve this problem. Stop Soldier Suicide helps veterans to find connections in mental health, jobs, relationships, or even with finances. In addition, a 24/7 call line called Veterans Crisis Line offers direct support to veterans and their families. Also, the National Alliance To End Veteran Suicide funds efforts of education, community, and research to end this tragic epidemic.

Even if you think you are one person and therefore have no power, I encourage you to reconsider. Veterans are brave men and women who have fought to protect you and me. The least we can do is to thank them by caring for them even after they come home.

Cover Image Credit: http://blogs.psychcentral.com/therapy-soup/files/2012/04/original.jpg

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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