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Military Connection: Study ties Veteran Suicide to Early Separations

military suicide

By Debbie Gregory.

A recent study found that there is no link between military/Veteran suicides and deployments, but surprisingly, connects high suicide rates to early separation.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Department of Defense’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology (T2). The researchers collected data on the 3.9 million men and women who served in the U.S. military between October, 2001, through December, 2009, during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The research found that even though the suicide rate among these service members had increased, the rate for those among them who deployed to a combat zone were not much different than those who did not deploy.

For the study, researchers reviewed the records of all personnel who served from Oct. 7, 2001, to Dec. 31, 2007, using materials obtained from the Defense Manpower Data Center, as well as death records from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner system and the National Death Index.

The research found that 3,945,099 individuals served during this time period. They also found that of the 31,962 of these individuals who have died during the six-year study, 5,041 of them were documented suicides. Of the suicides, 3,879 of them were committed by individuals who did not deploy.

The study found that service members who were at the highest risk for suicide were those who served for less than their full enlistment in the military. There was apparently an extremely high suicide rate among those who served for less than three years. The T2 research also found that the suicide rate among those who served less than a year, between 2001 and 2009, was two and half times greater than those who complete a full enlistment.

The research was designed to determine why these individuals were more prone to suicide. But the researchers do speculate, based on combining their data with previous research, that secondary problems (such as legal matters, injuries, substance abuse or mental health conditions) may have led to their early separation from the military and could have also contributed to their suicidal tendencies.

But for some, it could have been the transition itself that led them to take their own life. With separation from the military comes the loss of identity, loss of social support network, trouble finding meaningful and sustainable employment, or feeling like they don’t fit or are a burden to their loved ones or on society.

For more about the study visit the T2 website.

For more information on Veteran suicides or to seek help for yourself or a Veteran in crisis visit www.veteranscrisisline.net or call 1(800) 273- 8255 [then press 1] or text 838255.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Posts 3rd Quarter Suicide Report

military suicide

By Debbie Gregory.

On March 9, 2015, the Department of Defense (DOD) released its Quarterly Suicide Report (QSR) for the third quarter of 2014, representing the time period of July through September.

The QSRs are posted on the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO) at www.suicideoutreach.org. QSRs are intended to communicate the DOD’s data on suicide and suicide prevention to the public on a regular basis.

For the sake of the report, the QSR defines suicide as self-inflicted death with evidence of intent to die.

The report shows that there were 56 total suicides among active-duty components from all branches of the military combined. There were 31 suicides in the Army, 12 in the Air Force, seven in the Navy and six in the Marine Corps.

While high, the third quarter count is significantly lower than each of the first two quarters of 2014. The first quarter suicide count for active duty components was 74, and the second quarter was 70.

Among the Reserve component for the third quarter there were 20 suicides: 15 from the Army Reserve, three from the Air Force Reserve and one each from the Navy Reserve and Marine Corps Reserve.

There were also 26 suicides among members of the National Guard during the third quarter, including 23 in the Army National Guard and three from the Air National Guard.

Service members from all branches and components need to be reminded that there is help available to them in times of crisis through the Military Crisis Line.The Military Crisis Line is available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Active duty service members, Reservists, and members of the Guard can access help at http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/ActiveDuty.aspx, by texting 838255 or by calling toll free to: 1-(800) 273-8255 [then Press 1].

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: DOD Posts 3rd Quarter Suicide Report: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Drone Operators Contracting PTSD

drone operators

By Debbie Gregory.

Throughout time, those who have gone to war have experienced what was then referred to as Soldier’s Heart, Shell Shock, War Neurosis, War Hysteria, and Combat Stress Reaction.  Today, these conditions are known as post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD), and with the evolution of warfare, we are finding new and surprising methods of contracting PTSD. One of the latest discoveries is that more and more drone operators are complaining of PTSD symptoms.

Many in the military call drone operators “Nintendo Warriors,” implying that their contributions to military operations are merely glorified video gaming. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is that drones operators, including pilots, camera operators, intelligence gatherers, communications experts, and maintenance workers, are involved in nearly every ground and air operation around the globe. This is especially true in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Syria. And the role of drones is only increasing.

So while many other service members joke about the fact that drone operators can complete their missions after a morning commute stateside, and debrief at a TGI Fridays or Chili’s after “doing nothing but staring at video screens all day,” they can’t see the whole picture. Most Air Force pilots are logging somewhere in the area of 300 hours of flight-time per year, most of which is training. Most drone operators are logging 900-1,800 hours per year, nearly all of it while conducting active operations.

Drone operators are tasked with watching over U.S. forces on the ground, collecting intelligence photos and video feeds, and sometimes engaging enemy targets. Since the U.S. started conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State last August, at least three to four drones have taken part in every airstrike.

Drone missions are much different than other airstrike missions. The majority of the time, drone operators have been tracking a particular target for an extended period of time, collecting intelligence, before they are authorized to “eliminate” that target. This is opposed to other fighter, bomber and attack pilots, who often “rain hell from above” on unseen targets. And while other pilots are often on to another target or on their way back to the airfield, drone operators are regularly under orders to confirm that their target has been destroyed, meaning that they are often subjected to watching human beings in pain or dying from their actions.

The toll that the nature and the frequency of missions are taking on drone operators is as real as their contribution to U.S. military efforts. And more and more, operators are complaining of stress and PTSD-type symptoms.

For the mission workload that it wants to sustain, the Air Force needs to maintain a force of around 1,700 drone operators. There are currently only approximately one thousand operators currently serving, and they are being tasked with the work-load of 1,700. Nearly 240 drone operators leave the service each year, and with the Air Force only able to train somewhere in the neighborhood of 180 replacement drone operators per year, it’s easy to do the math and see that the void is only increasing.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Drone Operators Contracting PTSD: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: New Navy/USMC Health Website: By Debbie Gregory

WII Website

Early in December, the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC) announced the launch of its revamped Wounded, Ill, and Injured (WII) website as part of its ongoing Health Promotion and Wellness (HPW) program.

The newly designed WII website is intended to support the Department of the Navy’s commitment to care for Sailors and Marines recovering from wounds, illnesses, or injuries, regardless of where and when they were sustained.

The website provides Sailors and Marines with information, links to resources, and helpful tools that offer support through their healing, rehabilitation and recovery. The site offers its users direct, one-click access to links that provide the following resources: Active Living for WII, Caregiver Support, Case Management, Healthy Eating for WII, Integrative and Complementary Medicine, Injury & Violence Free Living for WII, Life After an Amputation, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychological & Emotional Well-Being for WII, Relationships & Intimacy, Sleep for WII, Substance Use & Misuse, Tobacco Free Living for WII, Traumatic Brain Injury, Weight Management for WII, and a Will Toolbox.

The health and wellness topics provided on the site go along with the priorities outlined in the National Prevention Strategy, including healthier living, holistic care, weight management and substance abuse.

Many of the site’s resources also focus on helping health educators, providers, and case managers reach the WII audience, while the practical tools aim at equipping WII service members in their daily battle for healing and recovery. The tools span six key topics: nutrition, relationships and intimacy, caregiver support, depression, sleep and integrative and complementary medicine.

But the WII site is available for anyone. If you or someone you know is wounded, ill or injured, be sure to refer them to the WII website at http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcphc/wounded-ill-and-injured/Pages/wii.aspx and link them to information they might need to know about resources that they didn’t know were available to them.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: New Navy/USMC Health Website: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connections: Unmentioned Risks of Service: By Debbie Gregory

Military EDMen and women who choose to join the military and serve their country are aware that there will be many sacrifices involved. They know that they will spend time away from their families. They understand that there is the likelihood of being deployed and the possibility of seeing combat. Service members are usually aware that there is a chance of getting wounded, injured or killed. What many service members don’t realize is there are significant risks to their health outside of the ones that are normally though of.

A recent study found that men who enlist in the military are three times more likely to develop erectile dysfunction (ED) than civilians of the same age group. While the topic of ED is rarely talked about, it needs to be discussed.

On July 17, 2014, the study, “Sexual Functioning in Military Personnel: Preliminary Estimates and Predictors”was published online by the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Researchers polled 367 male service members, aged 21-40.

Between October and November, 2013, participants completed an online survey about ED. The study examined the frequency of sexual function problems in male service members so that they could evaluate the effects of ED, including the quality of life for those who have it.

The study found that ED was quite common, showing up in more than 30% of the service members polled.  Service members aged 36-40 had the highest rates, more than double the rate of ED for civilians over the age of 40.

The high rate of ED among service members could be related to the increased number of deployments over the past twelve years, as well as the number of traumatic events that service members can be subjected to. Generally, sexual functioning issues are associated with getting older, but serious injuries and traumatic events can increase the likelihood of developing ED.

The most troubling part of the study was that most service members were not seeking treatment. Only one out of twelve service members who admitted having various degrees of ED in the survey admitted to seeking medical treatment.  Most of the participants cited concerns about what others would think as reasons for not getting checked out.

While some may consider it emasculating to seek help for problems with sexual function and performance, the study found a direct correlation between ED and one’s overall quality of life and happiness. It is highly recommended that any service member suffering from ED seek medical assistance so that they can restore balance to their life.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connections: Unmentioned Risks of Service:   By Debbie Gregory