Skip to comments.Retired U.S. Marine salutes, stands on DC median for 24 hours to raise awareness for veteran suicide
Posted on 05/25/2020 11:38:00 PM PDT by knighthawk
A retired U.S. Marine walked onto a concrete median in Washington D.C. on Sunday and stood for a period of 24 hours -- with the hope of bringing awareness to veteran suicide.
Retired U.S. Marine Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, 45, held a salute for 22 minutes at the beginning of the first hour to symbolize the American veterans who take their own life each day. For each hour after, the salute drops by one minute before it eventually counts down to zero.
Its a very emotional time, very emotional," Chambers' wife, Lorraine Heist-Chambers told Washington's WJLA-TV. This is something that he needs to do every year and I support him for it. No matter what it takes, we get out here.
(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...
Talk about Marine tough! God bless him and his efforts.
I salute that Marine for his dedication to that cause, but I got a little pissed off reading some of the comments at the website, which were shameful.
I think the issue of veteran suicide is a real issue, as is mental health in general among combat veterans, but some of the people at that linked Fox article clearly saw it as a way to bash the military.
But it did get me to thinking on the subject.
I just did some searches on “How much higher is veteran suicide rate than the general population?” and the first one at the top of the list was a study from 2013 that said that the veteran rate was 30 per 100K, while the civilian rate was 14 per 100K.
Then I saw another study where they broke out and didn’t count veterans who were in the National Guard and Reservists who were never activated as well as Active Duty. (I can see the point of removing National Guard and Reservists who were never activated, and I would think Active Duty suicides is something that should be studied in its own category.
I mean, heck-I am considered a veteran, and if I were to commit suicide, that suicide would be included in those statistics, but I don’t think someone like me should be. (Not thinking of it, just using myself as an example)
The VA did a study removing those categories, and it found that a veteran who wasn’t active duty, was never in called up National Guard, or activated reserves, and they got a value of 17 per 100K, which is 1.3% higher than the civilian statistics.
What I had a gut feeling on is the first and most often quoted 2013 study was too broad in my opinion, and given the all the references to it in that one search, is obviously a “watermark” study to a lot of people, and some of those people are clearly not looking for the truth, they are looking for a club to hit someone over the head with.
Also, I tend to play down to a degree the VA study, simply because I assume they had an interest in getting those numbers down, though the argument may be made they could have an interest in having the higher numbers too, for budgetary reasons or whatever.
I think breaking out active duty and even a category of active duty deployed to combat zones and studying them on their own makes a lot more sense to me, I don’t know if anyone has done that. I feel that should be dealt with separately.
I liken it to my view of the COVID-19 related issues. They have taken a “one size fits all” approach instead of a multilayered approach that treats people in different categories differently, which seems to make more sense to me. Why should we treat a 14 year old child who may get the virus (and has a vanishingly small likelihood of encountering serious issues) the same as a 82 year old with co-morbidity factors who is far more likely to suffer serious complications? We lock everyone up, destroy our economy, and do real damage to everyone when a stratified approach to risk management makes more sense.
The overall point is, this seems like an issue being talked about as a political tool rather than a real concern for the mental health of people we send into harm’s way. I think we could do better at addressing this, and better defining it and stratifying treatment of it makes more sense to me, and would make better use of the seemingly inadequate money and effort we spend on it.
You’ve gotta be unbalanced BEFORE entering the service to get to that point afterwards. I’m a Viet Nam vet. Never set foot in the country but having served in that period that gives me Carte Blanche for a two-fer should I die after recovering from coronavirus. What percentage of our vets saw the stuff that you can’t get over? Probably not that many.
Yes, exactly. (And thank you for serving, DIRTYSECRET...)
We need to find a way to get the most money allocated to those who need it most.
In writing this, I saw how long this post was, and had to add this disclaimer in advance apologizing for how long it is-but I do think it relates to this subject, at least for me.
This kind of thing related to trauma and stress with veterans has taken on a new impetus for me in my own mind, which is why I read this article posted in a bit of a different light.
Someone on FR suggested a movie to me on a thread yesterday (”Last Full Measure”) and I watched it last night. I was a bit put off by something in that movie and I am trying to put my finger on it (Besides the fact that it had Peter Fonda and Samuel Jackson in it, two actors I have come to despise and detest) and I think it boiled down to the portrayal of Vietnam Vets as damaged people who are nearly beyond beyond help and a menace to society, which is largely how they portrayed a couple of the vets.
I guess that was something that infuriated me back in the Seventies, when it was popular to portray all Vietnam Vets as psychopathic lunatics with headbands who wandered around at night with guns ready to shoot at anything that registered the wrong way if they didn’t respond with the right password. I am still mulling over in my mind what didn’t sit right with me on that recommended movie.
But I looked at this situation quite differently that I had before.
In the past, I had a view of PTSD that wasn’t really rooted in any personal experience, and it wasn’t that I belittled or disregarded it in any way, I just didn’t have any kind of personal understanding of it, so I tended to view PTSD it in a more detached, clinical way. The story I tell below has I think a bearing on this, at least for me)
I had a collision with a cyclist last year, and for probably three months after it, I couldn’t get it out of my head.
What is important for me to realize in looking at this is...I wasn’t physically injured. Not a scratch. But I was affected by it and didn’t even realize or acknowledge it (in retrospect, I suspect I would have felt weak in some way to have done so, and would then have felt even worse for having acknowledged it)
When it happened, it was very sudden, crashing, and the guy cartwheeled through the air over the hood of my car followed by his expensive bike, and he landed in the road on the other side. Probably a duration of a second to a second and a half at the most.
For three or four months or so after it happened, every time my mind wasn’t occupied with doing some specific task, that accident would begin replaying in my head. If I was doing some task at work, I was okay. But the instant I stopped that task and it was out of my mind, I would see and think of the crash again.
It was as if a little looping film clip, complete with sudden crashing sound and vibrant color would just pop to the front and begin playing right behind my eyes and ears, intercepting and cutting out the real-time input of sight and sound and inserting that into the feed into my brain.
I could see vividly in my mind (blocking out everything else) in high definition, the guy, his mouth open, a black hole in a pale featureless face, his bike-helmeted head, his spread-eagled bare calves with biking shoes complete with toe clip on each foot, and his expensive bike cartwheeling through the air in tandem with him. And the sudden sharpness of the collision sound was followed by this dead silence, as if I were deaf.
In retrospect, I had no memory of actually SEEING all that. But my eyes apparently did, and it burned into my brain pretty vividly at some unconscious level that I was not aware of.
This little clip would just play over and over in my mind with unsettling detail and repetitiveness. As I drove to work each day, when I came up to that terrible intersection, I found I was unconsciously gritting my teeth and my heart was pounding. But the thing was...I wasn’t relating it in any way. I was just kind of...getting by it, not thinking about why I had the wheel in a death grip, gritting my teeth with pounding heart. (To be fair, it is a nasty, nasty intersection at rush hour, and is dangerous under the best of conditions)
I had two things that made me view this in a way that changed my perception dramatically.
My wife and I were on scheduled vacation about three weeks later. It was a beautiful, sunny morning, no traffic, and we were driving down a rural road along the seacoast in Maine around 0600. Just beautiful, I was relaxed, enjoying the moment, in the moment, the crepuscular rays of the early morning sun coming through the trees, a slight mist in the vegetation, the brilliant blue water to the side.
We passed a house and barn that had been turned into a bike repair shop, and there was a well designed sign near the road showing a stylized racing bike with the driver bent over the handlebars going at some speed. There was a rustle of motion near it, and I nearly went off the road on the other side, my heart pounding, cussing aloud, my startled wife looking at me in alarm.
Apparently, there was someone with a hedge trimmer on the other side of the sign, and at the moment I looked over and saw the sign, the person with the hedge trimmer made a movement that my eye picked up.
I suspect my mind saw the sign with the image of the cyclist and then saw the slight movement, and before my mind could register that it was simply a sign with someone weed-whacking around it, my brain automatically made some connection with a real cyclist and unexpected movement and simultaneously pushed all the master warning buttons in my head with the palms of both hands and set me off. It took me about a half hour to settle back down.
But it wasn’t that alone that really pressed me to examine my reaction to this type of thing.
My wife and I had recently watched the series “Breaking Bad” after it was recommended to us. It was interesting to watch, we both liked it. Then, I saw that one of the characters (the shyster lawyer) was starting his own series “Better Call Saul”, so one night I thought I would watch an episode and see if I liked it.
In the opening scene, he is driving his car seemingly aimlessly at about 30 mph through some neighborhood. The camera shot as he is doing it is showing a little of the back of his head as if you were a passenger in the back looking out the front window. He is driving somewhat in a relaxed manner, with the outside world just kind of creeping by in a sedate way.
Out of the blue, there is a crash and a cyclist vaults over the guy’s hood.
I found myself fumbling and clutching the television remote, my heart pounding, cursing, trying to turn it off. It was awful. One minute I was completely relaxed, and in a split second, I had adrenaline coursing through my system, I was shaking, my eyes blinking.
The way the scene was shot looking through the windshield, the total quiet and normalcy of the driver going about his business driving lazily through some suburban neighborhood, with the harsh crashing sound and the airborne cyclist, it was unnervingly exactly like the accident I had been in. I couldn’t watch any more, never went back to see if the series was something I would enjoy.
And this was a few months after that happened.
My point with this long explanation is: I wasn’t even physically hurt in any way and it registered with me so deeply that it still unsettles me to realize it. I had to extrapolate, and when I imagined what men in battle would see, carnage far, FAR worse with the sound of battle, screaming, and the vivid display of red blood, I realized fully that the mental trauma of what many men see does not leave any of them untouched, and indeed, does push many of them to eradicate those film clips playing over and over in their head in the only ways they can figure out how.
They drink or drug themselves into oblivion, even if only for a short time, or that failing them, take their own lives.
It was a sobering thing for me. It is one thing to read it in a book or see it in a movie...or even see it live in another human being. But experiencing even a minor taste of it made me comprehend fully, even me, who was physically uninjured, just how that kind of thing could drive someone to take their own life.
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