The Carl Vinson VA Medical Center iin Dublin, Georgia
Olen Hancock, whose life had faded in many ways, shot himself outside the entrance of a Veterans Affairs hospital in Decatur earlier this month. He was 68.
A day earlier, Steven Pressley, after years of chronic pain, shot himself in the parking lot of a VA hospital in Dublin. He was 28.
At least 22 military veterans committed suicide at VA centers in the U.S. in the last 18 months, including a Texas man who shot himself this month in the waiting room of a VA clinic.
Veteran suicide is an acute crisis wrapped in a national crisis. Between 2005 and 2016, suicide rates in the general population climbed 21%. For veterans, already taking their lives at twice the U.S. rate, it climbed 26%. More than 6,000 veterans are dying by their own hands each year – nearly 20 a day.
The latest deaths renew questions about whether the VA, criticized and investigated for failing to provide timely or sufficient help to veterans, is doing enough to solve the problem. That is despite making suicide prevention a high priority in recent years.
The Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert L. Wilkie on Nov. 11, 2018. (DoD/Lisa Ferdinando)
The Department of Veterans Affairs office created to protect whistleblowers from retaliation is itself under investigation for — wait for it, wait for it — retaliation against whistleblowers.
According to Eric Katz of Government Executive, the nascent Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection has come under investigation by the VA Inspector General by employees who feel "betrayed or neglected by an office they believed was going to help them but ended up doing the opposite."
.S. Army Spc. Jonathan Pampell, a military intelligence mentor to the Afghan National Army (ANA), with the 319th Military Intelligence Battalion, walks past a group of wild dogs while on a patrol near Forward Operating Base Lightning, Paktya province, Afghanistan, Feb. 20, 2013. (U.S. Army/ Sgt. Aaron Ricca)
But we both served our countries in uniform – including in Iraq – and we both believe that one important way to alleviate the strain at the VA is to pursue a more restrained foreign policy, which will create fewer injured veterans.
To achieve this vision, we are joining forces to urge Congress to reassert its role in authorizing the use of military force, ensuring our country fights only the wars that are necessary to keep us safe — and to stop giving the executive branch free rein to entangle America in new conflicts.
A University of Toledo student has sued the university and two married employees who he says disclosed his post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis acquired in combat and incorrectly portrayed him as a safety threat to others.
Dallon Higgs, identified in court records as a former U.S. Army paratrooper, enrolled in the university's physician assistant program in 2017, shortly before the program lost its accreditation.