Monday, November 1, 2010

H-II Stephen Michael Apatow Speaks Out On Suicides

"To the fullest of our capacity, resources and ability... the true spirit of America will shine" -- H-II: De Oppresso Liber

The scope of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) associated with combat, combined with the social challenges of a national economic emergency have pushed many U.S. Soldiers to suicide.

Writing on the NPR health blog, Whitney Blair Wyckoff writes that while American soldiers who commit suicide receive full military honors, their families don't receive a letter of condolence from the White House. [1] It's a substantial omission because, as Wyckoff notes, "the number of soldiers who committed suicide in the U.S. military rivaled those who were killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan this year." -- DoD: No condolence letter if soldier committed suicide: Association of Healthcare Journalists. [3]

The scope of such a scenario is beyond comprehension.

H-II: Stephen Michael Apatow recalled [4] a story from a former Navy Seal who served in Somalia, was released on a medical discharge and suffered with PTSD [5]. The story:

While on patrol, accompanied by another soldier, two United States Marines were found mutilated. In short, these soldiers in self defense, killed everything that moved back to the barracks. This traumatic incident compromised their capacity to serve and within two months, following debriefing and a short counseling session, the soldier was released back into civilian life.

It was the fast track medical discharge, that flashed back into my memory. It was the inadequate medical help provided post release and the struggles that he faced with great anguish. He was a lucky one because he was able to pull it together, unlike many of the 131,000 veterans who are homeless on any given night [6] that were not able to adjust or veterans who commit suicide (estimated 120 per week in 2005). [7]

As noted in the 2009 "National Community Support for Wounded Warrior Project" Initiative, [8] regarding our most severely wounded warriors and wounded transitional.

Additional unmet needs in the spotlight include:

-- Jobless rate at 11.2% for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan: The 11.2% jobless rate for veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who are 18 and older rose 4 percentage points in the past year. That's significantly higher than the corresponding 8.8% rate (3.20.2009) for non-veterans in the same age group, says Labor Department economist Jim Walker. -- Article, USA Today, 20 March 2009. See Also: VetJobs: America's Premier Job Board for Veterans.

-- Untold Mortgage Crisis: Families Facing Military Foreclosures: According to one recent study, the number of foreclosures in military towns are four times the national average. Why? Because military families were targeted as customers during the boom in subprime lending. Their frequent moves, overseas stints, and low pay meant they were likely to have weak credit ratings. The initial low rates and easy terms of these loans made them more attractive than the traditional route of taking out a Veterans Administration (VA) loan. In fact, at the peak of the U.S. subprime lending, the number of new VA loans fell to their lowest level in 12 years. - Article: Veterans Today, 14 October 2008. See: Crime Victims of Predatory lending, Humanitarian Resource Institute.

-- Homeless Veterans: The VA estimates that 131,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And approximately twice that many experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country. The vast majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45 percent suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. America's homeless veterans have served in World War II, Korean War, Cold War, Vietnam War, Grenada, Panama, Lebanon, Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), Operation Iraqi Freedom, or the military's anti-drug cultivation efforts in South America. 47 percent of homeless veterans served during the Vietnam Era. National Coalition for Homeless Veterans: 1-800-VET-HELP.

-- More female veterans are winding up homeless; many are single parents: One out of every 10 homeless vets under the age of 45 is now a woman, the statistics show. Overall, female veterans are now between two and four times more likely to end up homeless than their civilian counterparts, according to the VA, most as a result of the same factors that contribute to homelessness among male veterans: mental trauma related to their military service and difficulty transitioning into the civilian economy. -- Article: Boston Globe, 2 July 2009.

The Soundtrack: "The Soldiers Tear" is dedicated to Our Troops and is available on the Country Goes Global compilation accessible on AirPlay Direct.

Our members of the armed forces protect all United States citizens with their lives, it is time that we show respect, honor and gratitude for their sacrifice. This need has prompted a national call for all communities, businesses and corporations to commit special programs and assistance for current members/veterans of our armed forces, our most severely wounded warriors and wounded transitional. -- H-II: Stephen Michael Apatow


1. Mental Health Groups Ask White House To Reverse Suicide Letter Policy: National Public Radio, 14 October 2010. Url:
2. Suicide Rivals The Battlefield In Toll On U.S. Military: National Public Radio, 17 June 2010. Url:
3. DoD: No condolence letter if soldier committed suicide: Association of Healthcare Journalists, Oct. 21st, 2010. Url:
4. In Dedication to Our Troops - HRI:UNArts: Wounded Warrior Transition Initiative: Music Industry News Network, 31 May 2010. Url:
5. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Medline Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Url:
6. Background & Statistics: National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Url:
7. Estimate: 120 Veteran Suicides Per Week: Institute for Public Accuracy, 24 March 2008. Url:
8. National Community Support for Armed Forces and Wounded Warrior Project: Humanitarian Resource Institute, 27 July 2009. Url:


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