Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Troops Most At Risk Of Suicide Don’t Get The Support They Need From The Military, New Report Says
A new report on post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among active-duty service members found that Department of Defense healthcare providers failed to adequately follow up with those who were at a high risk of suicide. The Aug. 7 RAND report, Quality of Care for PTSD and Depression in the Military Health, found that almost half of service members with PTSD and 70% of those with depression did not receive adequate care from the Military Health System after they were found to be at risk of harming themselves.
The report, commissioned by the Pentagon, looked at 39,000 service members who had been diagnosed with depression, PTSD, or both in 2013.
“Providing adequate follow-up for those with suicide risk could be improved given that a low proportion (30 %) of service members with depression who were identified as having suicide risk in a new treatment episode received adequate follow-up,” reads the report. The report defines “adequate follow-up” as assessing whether the service member has access to a “lethal means” and a plan to commit suicide or bodily harm to themselves.
While military healthcare providers did a good job of scheduling follow-up visits, preventing an active duty service member from gaining access to a lethal means appeared to be problematic, explained Kimberly Hepner, a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND corporation and lead author of the study.
“For service members who do actually die by suicide, the most frequent way is with a firearm,” Hepner told Task & Purpose, adding that for providers this means asking service members about their access to their firearms, and attempting to find a way to limit that access while they’re at increased risk.
M-16A4 service rifles are stacked against a wall after urban operations training on Marine Corps Outlying Landing Field Atlantic, North Carolina, Feb. 18, 2016.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jodson B. Graves
Due to concerns over how this might adversely impact a service member’s career, coupled with the stigma associated with PTSD and depression, “that can be a difficult conversation to have,” Hepner said, adding that for many service members, their duties may require the use of a firearm, and limited access would likely require command notification.
Among the service members documented in the report, the vast majority were on their second or third enlistment, had at least one deployment under their belts, and an average of 20 months downrange.
“What we do know is true is that with each successive deployment, service members and veterans have an increased rate of PTSD and related conditions,” Kris Goldsmith the Assistant Director for Policy and Government Relations with Vietnam Veterans of America told Task & Purpose. “What we need to get past is treating service members as if they’re disposable.”
“We need to be more focused on recovery,” Goldsmith continued. “It seems like DoD is pushing its problems onto [the Department of Veterans Affairs] rather than maintaining the veterans who have already been trained and focus on keeping them in the military.”
A group of 324th Training Squadron basic trainees perform formation and parade drills in preparation of their graduation on Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo
Of active-duty service members with PTSD or depression, roughly 90% were enlisted, according to the RAND report. Roughly 50% of those with PTSD and 60% of those with depression had 10 or fewer years in the military.
Based on the report’s findings, E-5s through E-9s made up the majority of the cohort, accounting for 64.3% of those diagnosed with PTSD and 52% with depression, followed by E-1s to E4s, who accounted for 25% of those with PTSD and 35.3% of those with depression.
More than 2.6 million service members deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2014, and estimates of the rates of PTSD following military service there fluctuates dramatically between 4 and 20%, the report notes.
“It’s not just the military and veterans community who are aware of PTSD these days, it’s part of the American lexicon, the general public I think has a broad understanding that PTSD and depression are legitimate health concerns that reduce the combat effectiveness of the force,” Goldsmith said. “In order to have a ready force, we need to make sure we take care of the people who make up the United States military.”
A sprawling new survey says a ‘culture of resilience’ helped US military families weather housing woes for years
A new survey of thousands of military families released on Wednesday paints a negative picture of privatized military housing, to say the least.
The Military Family Advisory Network surveyed 15,901 adults at 160 locations around the country who are either currently living in privatized military housing, or had lived in privatized housing within the last three years. One of the report's primary takeaways can be summarized in two lines: "Most responses, 93 percent, came from residents living in housing managed by six companies. None of them had average satisfaction rates at or above neutral."
Those six companies are Lincoln Military Housing, Balfour Beatty, Hunt, Lendlease/Winn, Corvias, and Michaels.
What's behind these responses? MFAN points to the "culture of resilience" found in the military community for why military families may be downplaying the severity of their situations, or putting up with subpar conditions.
"[Military] families will try to manage grim living conditions without complaint," MFAN says in its report. "The norm of managing through challenges, no matter their severity, is deeply established in military family life."
EGLIN AFB — With gratitude for its seven years at Eglin and enthusiasm for the future in California, the Navy's first F-35C strike fighter squadron furled its flag in a Thursday morning ceremony.
The F-35C is the "carrier variant" version of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, designed specifically to operate from aircraft carriers.
"Today, we turn into the wind and launch on an aggressive path to deploy the F-35C," said Navy Capt. Max G. McCoy, commander of the Joint Strike Fighter Wing.
ABOARD THE USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT -- Loose lips sink ships, but do they reveal too much about the hugely anticipated "Top Gun" sequel, "Top Gun: Maverick," filmed onboard in February?
Not on this carrier, they don't. Although sailors here dropped a few hints about spotting movie stars around the ship as it was docked in San Diego for the film shoot, no cats — or Tomcats — were let out of the bag.
"I can't talk about that," said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, who commands the Roosevelt.
Robots in the air, on the ocean surface and on the ground guarded British Royal Marines as they stormed a beach during an important April 2019 war game.
The ground robot, in particular, is a new capability for the Royal Marines. The gun- and rocket-armed, tank-like unmanned ground vehicle could boost the naval branch's firepower while helping to keep human beings out of harm's way.
Alpha Company of the Royal Marines' 40 Commando and their robot guardians stormed a beach in Cornwall in southwest England as part of Exercise Commando Warrior. The Royal Marines' 1 Assault Group supported the naval infantry.