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A lot of people cannot comprehend why someone would take his or her own life. In the case of service members, the stress of war, being away from family and friends, traumatic brain injury from combat, and transitioning out of the military, among other things, can be overwhelming to young veterans returning from the combat zone. Indeed, according to data released by the Department of Veterans Affairs earlier this year, male veterans under the age of 30 saw a 44% increase in suicide rates from 2009 to 2011.
September is Suicide Prevention Month, and today, Sept. 10, is World Suicide Prevention Day. Far too many young veterans between are committing suicide after returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan. Among all categories of veterans, suicides average 22 a day. Worldwide, an estimated one million people commit suicide every year.
The VA launched a campaign this month to generate awareness about the Veterans Crisis Line, a toll-free, confidential resource that connects veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring VA responders 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For veterans and family members going through a difficult time, one call, chat, or text can be a critical first step. It can mean the difference between life and death.
Dealing with post-traumatic stress and/or military sexual trauma can make service members more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses. It can be overwhelming especially for someone who feels like no one understands; that they don’t have anyone to talk to.
I have been in that situation before --- when the future looks uncertain or stressful events have happened to make me feel overwhelmed, which then only increases the anxiety. One particular evening, I found myself in a dark place with no idea what to do or where to turn. That’s when I remembered the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. I picked up the phone and called the number. A young woman came on the line and I told her I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious. While I was not exactly feeling suicidal, I talked to her for 45 minutes. I told her about all the stress building up in my life: financial problems from being unable to work, severe chronic pain a result of my time in the service, and a limited support system without someone I could really talk to. I was having severe anxiety and it was nice to have someone on the other end of the line willing to let me talk without judgement. I have always been one of those people who isolates myself after traumatic events, such as the horrible death of my mother.
After talking to the woman, I started feeling better and we both hung up. She said she would send a message to the Miami VA Mental Health Department letting them know I had called to talk to someone. The next day I heard from two counselors at the Miami VA who asked me if I needed anything and they said they would refer the message to the psychiatrist and psychologist assigned to me and that they did.
Anyone can have moments of darkness, angst, depression, but know that there are resources that provide help and support is the step first to recovery.
If you notice any signs of depression or suicidal tendencies in someone you love, or you are feeling them yourself, reach out. One small act can make a lifetime of difference.
Retired Army Master Sgt. Mark Allen has died 10 years after he was shot in the head while searching for deserter Pvt. Bowe Bergdahl in Afghanistan.
Allen died on Saturday at the age of 46, according to funeral information posted online.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday he and the Pentagon will comply with House Democrats' impeachment inquiry subpoena, but it'll be on their own schedule.
"We will do everything we can to cooperate with the Congress," Esper said on CBS' "Face the Nation." "Just in the last week or two, my general counsel sent out a note — as we typically do in these situations — to ensure documents are retained."
Most of the U.S. troops in Syria are being moved out of the country as Turkish forces and their Arab allies push further into Kurdish territory than originally expected, Task & Purpose has learned.
Roughly 1,000 U.S. troops are withdrawing from Syria, leaving a residual force of between 100 and 150 service members at the Al Tanf garrison, a U.S. official said.
"I spoke with the president last night after discussions with the rest of the national security team and he directed that we begin a deliberate withdrawal of forces from northern Syria," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Sunday's edition of CBS News' "Face the Nation."'
More than 700 women and children affiliated with ISIS escape Kurdish prison camp after Turkish shelling
BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Women affiliated with Islamic State and their children fled en masse from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria on Sunday after shelling by Turkish forces in a five-day-old offensive, the region's Kurdish-led administration said.
Turkey's cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara's Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.
Turkey is facing threats of possible sanctions from the United States unless it calls off the incursion. Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.