The combination of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) is defined as the "signature wound" from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of our servicemembers who have returned home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are afflicted, causing them to battle yet another war — a war within.
We have all read how those battling PTSD and TBI don’t always receive the help they need, which oftentimes has a tragic result: suicide. Suicide rates for U.S. veterans are among the highest — an estimated 20 veterans commit suicide every day. We cannot stand for this.
As our servicemembers are deployed to protect and defend our freedoms, we must provide them with the compassionate care that they deserve. The Legion is helping in this effort with its new Suicide Prevention Web Center: www.legion.org/suicideprevention
The center provides veterans and their families with life-saving resources and programs during their time of transition and need.
The Legion’s online Suicide Prevention Web Center builds on several suicide-prevention initiatives launched in recent years by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The center houses specific suicide-prevention data, statistics, programs and resources organized for veterans, families and the community.
Additionally, information on VA’s Crisis Hotline (800)-273-8255 (TALK), chat service and video testimonials from VA’s Make the Connection program are accessible from the website. The Make the Connection program includes personal stories of veterans who were at risk for suicide, received help, and now are encouraging other veterans to come forward and receive proper treatment.
PTSD/TBI has been at the forefront of Legion concerns since 2010 when we established an ad hoc committee to study the science, treatment and best practices for PTSD/TBI. And last month, the Legion released a report titled "The War Within" that includes findings and recommendations based on comprehensive research conducted from January 2011 to February 2013 by the Legion’s ad hoc committee on TBI/PTSD. I encourage you to read it online here as it is our duty to take care of our fellow veterans.
Legion Family members, I have shared with members of Congress that I will spend the coming year personally meeting with veterans and military personnel, and I will bring back their messages and share their concerns. I’m ready to make sure our voice is heard on veterans battling PTSD/TBI, because we cannot continue to lose our brothers and sisters to the often invisible signature wounds of war.