Ask The Psychologist Issue #33: “SEZ ME”
Just thinking about non-stopped Veteran suicides resulting in possible Government savings with TV series and news interviews focusing on the subject
On Veterans Day (2021), I was interviewed on a **national radio show and the subject of veteran’s suicide came up. I reiterated what I wrote a few years back, as an editorial and would like to restate the following thoughts on the subject that I partially stated on the radio show.
“If we had 20 to 22 Vets die in combat each day, people would be marching in every city in the USA.
Why are citizens and the government marching in the opposite direction, when we loose this number of Vets each day to suicide?”
“The lead profession in the mental health field; PSYCHIATRY! — Has failed, by primarily prescribing brain altering, BLACK BOX WARNING, psychiatric drugs to our vets. If this was not the case, we wouldn’t have 22 veteran suicides a day, influenced dramatically by the extensive utilization of prescription drugs, with one of their many major side effects being suicide (#1 based on FDA studies) – FIRE PSYCHIATRY” and hire Physiatry (Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation medical doctors whose profession was ‘born of war, ‘after WW I.)
Did it ever cross your mind why Veteran Suicides have not decreased in over 20 years? I was just thinking about this after reviewing suicide incidents, etc., information.
The below information reflects what I think (I’m not a statistician) the government generally saves, each time a veteran commits suicide, in regard to pensions and disability (Not counting medical care, Soc Sec, etc.).
I don’t want to and hate to look at the below information as a possible reason more is not being done to reduce the suicides of our veterans (Over 8,000 this past year). Also, why the government is not admitting that Psychiatry (Mostly utilizing BLACK BOX Warning, Brain Altering Psychiatric Medication with the main side effects being suicide), the profession that is in charge of mental health, being allowed to continue to fail in saving lives and has not been fired and replaced by the more suitable profession of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry, Medical Doctor in PM&R).
“In 2013, the VA released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. Some sources suggest that this rate may be undercounting suicides”.
“According to the most recent report published by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2016, which analyzed 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014, the current analysis indicates that an average of 20 veterans a day die from suicide.”
“The Government Accountability Office study found that of $6.2 million set aside for suicide prevention media outreach in fiscal 2018, only $57,000 — less than 1 percent — was actually spent”.
Even if you look at an average of 20 suicides a day for the past 20 years, this totals 146,000 for 20 years (More likely more).
2019 VA Veteran Medical benefits (https://militarybenefits.info/va-disability-rates/)
2019 DOD retirement pension (https://www.military.com/benefits/veteran-benefits/veterans-pensions.html)
—A single Veterans (Not counting dependents) pension averages $13,536 a year (Low end).
—An average of a veteran receiving 30% disability comes to $5,136 per year (100% disability averages $36,684 per year).
Based on the above numbers, each veteran that commits suicide saves the government, on the low average side, $18,672 per year in pensions and disability
(Not counting medical treatment costs, Social Security, etc.)
Over 20 years, the government saves about $373,440 (Retirement and disability combined only) per each veteran that commits suicide.
For 20 years, if you add 146,000 total veteran suicides in 20 years (low estimate) and government benefits not paid of $18,672 for each veteran that committed suicide;
The total savings for the government for 20 years, for all Veteran suicides, is in the billions of dollars.
ITS JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT!!!
RECENT INTERESTING TV MEDIA ON THE SUBJECT
This below series TV show episodes for 2019, 19, 20 & 21 Seal Team, exposed psychiatry basically contributing to a Vets suicide, by prescribing multiple brain altering psychiatric meds at a VA. This was done on a national major network TV show (CBS), that coincidentally so happens to be extremely true to life and parallels actual real suicides happening every day, which was depicted precisely in these episodes. I have personally seen this exact occurrence happen, even the same dialogue, more than once, in my work with Vets.
Seal Team Episode April 24, 2019, & May 1 & 8, 2019“ Medicate and Isolate” Season 2 Episode 19, 20 & 21 (https://www.cbs.com/shows/seal-team/video/qZjmtSyA6xv8_IV_fZwgZvb35N_7McBM/seal-team-medicate-and-isolate/);
The writer of Seal Team has great insight on the issue and more than likely, got his information from a Veteran who has been there.
A Fox News interview Apr 24, 2019, with Shannon Bream, with the then current Secretary of the VA, Robert Wilkie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGoBBUKdZeE) at 30.40 minutes into the show.
***Shannon Bream did a great job with Sec. Wilkie, expressing her thoughts on the subject of Veteran Suicides and treatment and asked why the VA is not doing more. She also quoted Congressman Greg Stube of Florida, who is stating that the VA needs to improve what it is doing for Veterans.
Also on Fox news on May 23, 2019, Harris Faulkner interviewed Sec Robert Wilkie (https://www.foxnews.com/politics/va-sec-wilkie-weve-changed-out-leadership-at-va-centers-proposed-largest-budget) and he said that there is no commonality for the veteran’s suicides. Brain altering, BLACK BOX WARNING, psychiatric drugs is the common thread that runs through most veteran suicides, that he failed to mention. Also not mentioned was the fact that the veterans choice program is up to VA staff to make the choice ultimately, since they have to approve private medical treatment payment. I have seen this first hand, with a Vet I am advocating for at present.
*** As of 5-20-19, The TV interview with Shannon Bream was taken off YouTube. HMMMMMMM. Wonder why???
NOTE* 383,947 TBI’s since the year 2000 — Anyone with a TBI has the potential for suicide, 4 times more than a person with no TBI. Now combine this potential, with that person being prescribed a brain altering psychiatric medication, with suicide being one of the first major side effects and now you can exponentially multiply the number 4 by no one knows how much. Major factor when considering suicide rate for anyone with a TBI.
Bart P. Billings,Ph.D.
COL SCNG-SC, Military Medical Directorate (Ret.)
Licensed Clinical Psychologist CA PSY 7656
Licensed Marriage, Family Therapist CA LMFT 4888
-Director/Founder International Military & Civilian Combat Stress Conference
-Initial Enlisted Ranks and Retired as Medical Service Corps Officer with a total of 34 years in US Army
-Recipient of the 2014 Human Rights Award from Citizens Commission on Human Rights International & The University Of Scranton “Frank O’Hara Award” in 2016.
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