In early 2011, four friends gave their lives in service to this country. All were under 25 years of age. Two lost their lives in combat operations, and two lost their lives by suicide. Combat deaths we understand. Suicide deaths are no less devastating, but more distressing because they are often preventable.
For example, PTS or PTSD did not kill those two young men – poverty, isolation, despondency and a sense of hopelessness when dealing with civilian life were all contributing factors.
Combat trauma and its impact on basic coping skills can lead to unemployment, domestic violence, substance abuse, divorce, despondency and in all too many cases, suicidal ideation. Combat trauma is a natural extension of combat, not a personal failure to cope. If we can engage them we can expose them to different civilian related events. If we can engage them we can educate them. If we can educate them we can employ then; but it all starts with engagement. If they open the door to support, we will walk through it with them.
Veterans 360 has developed a clearly defined program to provide young, recently-separated combat veterans with a program of support that will help them develop the professional and interpersonal skills needed to succeed in civilian life. We will help them manage the resources that are available to them and guide them so they are better able to complete a successful transition into civilian life.
Veterans’ entitlements or benefits will never be used to pay for our services. In fact, we will counsel our program participants on how to keep a firm grip on their funds and benefits until they are better educated on how and when to use them.
To be successful and reduce epidemic levels of veteran suicide, we need support and commitment from the communities we serve. Time, talent and treasure are always needed.