Posts Tagged ‘military’

The recent article in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry “Suicide Risk Assessment Received Prior to Suicide Death by Veterans Health Administration Patients with a History of Depression” revealed several important findings. Among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients with a history of depression from 1999 to 2004, 74% of patients who died by suicide had received an assessment of suicidal ideation in the year prior to suicide,1 and this rate was achieved prior to the major initiatives that VHA has put in place over the last 7 years emphasizing suicide risk assessment and prevention. However, only 30% of patients with depression or a history of depression received such an assessment at a time that it might have been especially important—the last health care visit. Furthermore, of those assessed, 85% denied suicidal ideation when asked, and a similar proportion (>70%) denied suicidal ideation even when asked within 7 days of their impending suicide death. Read article here.


A growing number of Americans are getting dogs for mental health needs, experts say. In the case of psychiatric service animals, they are trained specifically to help people with mental illnesses. Read article here.

If you are a Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine or Veteran experiencing difficulties due to a traumatic experience (for example, combat, deployment experience, or sexual assault), the PE Coach mobile application (app) may be part of the solution.

The app will guide you through the exercises assigned by your therapist and allows you to track and record your progress in treatment. In addition, the app provides you with techniques such as controlled breathing that will help you tolerate and decrease your distress. PE Coach will help you remember and track your upcoming therapy sessions. You and your therapist will be able to audio record your sessions directly onto your phone so that you can review them later as part of your treatment. Read article here.

Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder have a new mobile resource to help combat the anxiety disorder’s many challenges.

The Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs (VA) have jointly developed the PTSD Coach, a free smartphone application. Dr. Sonja Batten, who works on national mental health policy for the VA, says the app was developed with veterans in mind. The app allows users to track and manage symptoms, find support and get reliable information about PSTD. A self-assessment mode has 17 questions — the same ones used in clinical settings — to gauge distress levels. Read article here.

On July 5, the White House reversed its longstanding policy of not sending condolence letters to the families of service members who die by suicide while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other combat zones. AFSP would like to commend President Obama on his decision. Read article here.

On Wednesday, May 25th, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), co-chair of the Senate Military Family Caucus, along with a bipartisan group of Senate colleagues, sent a letter to the President urging the reversal of a long-standing White House policy that withholds letters of condolence from families of servicemen and servicewomen who die by suicide. In the letter, the Senators highlight the incidence of suicide among troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, and reiterate that ending the policy “will provide comfort to the families struggling with the loss of a loved one, while also reducing the stigma that prevents too many men and women in uniform from seeking the mental health care they need,” (Senator Barbara Boxer). The letter is also signed by the following Senators:

Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)
Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

With this latest Senate action, now is a great time for all of us to contact the White House in support of the above Senators and in support of military families across the country.

The White House may be contacted via email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by visiting After filling in the required information, under subject select “Afghanistan and Iraq” and post the following message:
I support the US Senators who recently wrote to you regarding the White House position on no condolence letters to military families who lose loved ones to suicide. Mr. President, please say no to the stigma associated with mental health issues and suicide. Please change this policy now!

The White House may be contacted via phone at 202-456-1111. When you call indicate that you want to leave a message for the President:
I support the US Senators who recently wrote to you regarding the White House position on no condolence letters to military families who lose loved ones to suicide. Mr. President, please say no to the stigma associated with mental health issues and suicide. Please change this policy now!

Please contact the White House with the above message this weekend through June 3rd, to not only show your support for your Senators but also to lend a voice to military families across the country.

The Vets4Warriors program is now providing 24-hour help to the roughly 50,000 soldiers who are stationed at Fort Hood. Whether it’s depression, thoughts of suicide, alcohol problems, or just advice about how to navigate the military echelons, the veterans staffing the phone lines are listening and offering advice. Read article here.

President Barack Obama outlined almost 50 new commitments to help support military families with programs designed to address issues from suicide prevention to reducing predatory lending and homelessness. Read article here.

Let’s open our hearts and minds when it comes to people who are facing different sorts of “battles”.

The U.S. Army announced Wednesday that the number of suicides rose again last year to almost one a day, despite major efforts to identify and help at-risk soldiers. Read article here.

Soldiers who were screened for mental health problems before deploying to Iraq were less likely to report suicidal thoughts, be evacuated for mental health reasons, or require care for combat stress. Read article here.