Saturday, April 14, 2012

Why I go to Grad School

Last night I worked at the ranch. I filled in for a few minutes at the bar and as I watched the tip jar repeatedly fill up to the top I had the thought, "why am I going to all this hassle of grad school when I could make good money simply by bartending?" I joked backed and forth with a few of my friends via text message on the topic. And I decided that I just needed to quit the stress of school. I'd quit bringing home school work and start bringing home cash.

But today I stumbled across this article on the interwebs. I love finding articles about military psychology, but at the same time, the whole topic just eats at me. I can't shake it off. I've brought it up before; it's my passion. And in that lies my answer of why I am going to grad school in the first place: that one day I will be able to be a part in the solution to the crisis of mental health issues in the armed forces and their families. One day.

I really, really want y'all to read the article itself. As I was reading, I kept wondering if the author was reading my mind while writing. But for those who don't get the chance to read it {it's super easy, just click here!} I'll share some highlights.

A Veteran’s Death, the Nation’s Shame
Published: April 14, 2012
  • For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands. 
  • More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began. {!!}
The issue:
  • One reason for veteran suicides (and crimes, which get far more attention) may be post-traumatic stress disorder, along with a related condition, traumatic brain injury. 
  • Preliminary figures suggest that being a veteran now roughly doubles one’s risk of suicide. 
  • Presidents commit troops to distant battlefields, but don’t commit enough dollars to veterans’ services afterward. 
Regarding the VA {Veteran's Affairs}
  • It is also chipping away at a warrior culture in which mental health concerns are considered sissy.
  • The V.A.has improved but still doesn’t do nearly enough about the suicide problem.
The story incorporates the story of a Mom of a suicide-victim vet and another son dealing with major psychological distress from deployment.
  • She sent two strong, healthy men to serve her country, and now her family has been hollowed in ways that aren’t as tidy, as honored, or as easy to explain as when the battle wounds are physical. 
  • “When Ryan joined the Army, he was willing to sacrifice his life for his country,” she said. “And he did, just in a different way, without the glory." {amen}
My thoughts: 

  • I agree with Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia“Whether it be [a suicide] every 80 minutes or one every 80 weeks, one is obviously one too many.”
  • This is further evidence that a battlefield exists right here at home for many soldiers! Every veteran alive today is a survivor, not only of a war, but of a psychological battle.
  • Suicide aside-- divorce, broken families, substance abuse, homelessness-- these are huge sacrifices that affect far too many soldiers.
  • What's a solution?  We need to step up as a society. We owe it to our Veterans. Make sure you're letting your elected officials know that post-deployment {and even general} psychological services for are troops are an issue to be addressed. Reach out to service members in your own life. Find ways to volunteer in your area. Just do *something*!  
  • {and PS it's not an issue of whether you support our wars/conflicts/president. This is an issue of owing these people who have volunteered to protect us and fight on our behalf.}
  • Lastly, I apologize that this is longer than I intended. That always happens when I address this topic, but I just can't keep it short. But, I figure, "hey, this is my space. I can say whatever I want." And I will. And I will continue until there is not even one single public servant who feels as if his problems are better off solved by ending her life; that his answers to problems are found at the bottom of the bottle or after drug fix; that he is no longer capable of connecting with his wife and/or caring for her children because she simply can't take care of her own psychological distress. 


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