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post #1 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 12:44 AM Thread Starter
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Exclamation 1,000 Suicide Attempts per Month.

Ok, found some numbers. This isn't a thread about is the war right or wrong. However I am posting this in hopes that you, the citizens of our country, help us fight for better medical care.

Vets' Lawsuit Opens Door on Suicides, Poor Care

by Aaron Glantz
April 23, 2008

The United States government does such a bad job of caring for wounded war veterans, advocates told a federal judge in San Francisco Monday, that 18 veterans commit suicide every week.

"The suicide problem is out of control," said Gordon Erspamer, an attorney representing the groups Veterans for Common Sense and Veterans United for Truth in a class action lawsuit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). "Our veterans deserve better."

Erspamer's comments came in opening arguments for what is expected to be a week-long trial, the first class action brought on behalf of 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.

Early arguments were punctuated by allegations top government officials deliberately deceived the U.S. public about the number of veterans attempting suicide.

In one e-mail made public during the trial, the head of the VA's Mental Health division, Dr. Ira Katz, advised a media spokesperson not to tell reporters 1,000 veterans receiving care at the VA try to kill themselves every month.

"Shh!" the e-mail begins.

"Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among the veterans we see in our medical facilities. Is this something we should (carefully) address ourselves in some sort of release before someone stumbles on it?" the e-mail concludes.

According to CBS News, Katz's e-mail was written shortly after the VA provided the network with data showing there were only 790 attempted suicides in all of 2007 a fraction of Katz's estimate.

Earlier this month, the city of Dallas, Texas, closed its psychiatric unit after the hospital experienced its fourth suicide of the year.

"On April 4, a man fastened a bed sheet to the bottom corner of a door frame, draped a noose over the top, and hanged himself," the Dallas Morning News reported last week. "Before that, a veteran hanged himself on a frame attached to his wheelchair. And in January, two men who met in the psychiatric ward committed suicide in Collin County days after being released."

"The system is in crisis, and unfortunately the VA is in denial," Erspamer told the court, urging U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Conti to appoint a special master to oversee the troubled agency. The veterans' groups are also seeking a judge's order forbidding the VA from turning away any veteran who shows up at a facility seeking mental health care.

In a number of high-profile cases, Iraq war veterans have killed themselves after being turned away from the VA.

Lawyers for the government argued strongly against the veterans, countering the VA runs a "world-class health care system." Multiple times during his opening statement, Justice Department lawyer Richard Lepley portrayed the veterans' groups as "special interests" and argued the changes the groups seek in their lawsuit better and faster mental health care, and more rights for veterans appealing denials of benefits are beyond the judge's authority.

"You have no standards to judge," Lepley told Conti. "This court shouldn't be trying to be a substitute for what the medical professionals at the VA decide."

No veterans are set to testify at the trial, which focuses on the nature of the Byzantine bureaucratic system veterans must navigate to receive health care and disability benefits. According the Department of Veterans Affairs, the average time a veteran must wait to learn if his or her disability claim has been approved is 185 days, or about six months.

Veterans' groups countered the real wait is much longer, noting that if a veteran appeals the disability ruling, the appeals process can drag on for years. According to internal VA documents provided by the plaintiffs, 526 veterans have died this year while their disability claims were being reviewed.

None of this surprises Kelly Conklin of Chunchula, Alabama.

Her husband Manuel was reduced to a wheelchair after experiencing a negative reaction to an anthrax vaccine administered as he was preparing to deploy to Iraq with the U.S. Navy in 2003. Military doctors pumped him with steroids and other medicine in hopes he would recover, Conklin said, but in 2005 she came to realize that was unlikely and filed a claim with the VA for disability compensation.

After three years, the family is still waiting.

"It's an every day battle," Kelly Conklin told IPS. "We're having grits and eggs for supper tonight and a lot of nights. Sometimes we don't eat anything but lima beans for supper it depends on what we have."

In the absence of a regular paycheck or a disability check, Conklin says her family of four is now living almost completely off charity, with much of the food they eat coming from the local food bank.

She said she used to be proud of her husband for his service in the Navy, but has now forbidden her youngest son from joining the Armed Forces.

"If it sounds like I'm down, yes I am down," she told IPS. "If I sound like I'm bitter, you got that right. They've taken everything away from me. The only thing left for them to take from me is my birthday."

"When we give them our spouses, we give them whole," she said. "And if you can't make him whole [again], then you make sure he's taken care of."



VA Hid Suicide Risk
By Armen Keteyian/CBS News
Posted: 2008-04-22 13:39:57

(April 21) - In federal court Monday in San Francisco, attorneys for veterans' rights groups accused U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs of nothing less than a cover-up - deliberately concealing the real risk of suicide among veterans.

"The system is in crisis and unfortunately the VA is in denial," said veterans rights attorney Gordon Erspamer.

The charges were backed by internal e-mails written by Dr Ira Katz, the VA's head of Mental Health.

In the past, Katz has repeatedly insisted while the risk of suicide among veterans is serious, it's not outside the norm.

"There is no epidemic in suicide in VA," Katz told Keteyian in November.

But in this e-mail to his top media adviser, written two months ago, Katz appears to be saying something very different, stating: "Our suicide prevention coordinators are identifying about 1,000 suicide attempts per month among veterans we see in our medical facilities.

Katz's e-mail was written shortly after the VA provided CBS News data showing there were only 790 attempted suicides in all 2007 - a fraction of Katz's estimate.

"This 12,000 attempted suicides per year shows clearly, without a doubt, that there is an epidemic of suicide among veterans," said Paul Sullivan of Veterans for Common Sense.

And it appears that Katz went out of his way to conceal these numbers.

First, he titled his e-mail: "Not for the CBS News Interview Request."

He opened it with "Shh!" - as in keep it quiet - before ending with "Is this something we should (carefully) address before someone stumbles on it?"

On Monday, CBS News showed the e-mail to Rep Bob Filner, D-Calif, who chairs the House Committee on Veterans Affairs.

"This is disgraceful. This is a crime against our nation, our nation's veterans," Filner told CBS News. "They do not want to come to grips with the reality, with the truth."

And that's not all.

Last November when CBS News exposed an epidemic of more than 6,200 suicides in 2005 among those who had served in the military, Katz attacked our report.

"Their number is not, in fact, an accurate reflection of the rate," he said last November.

But it turns out they were, as Katz admitted in this e-mail, just three days later."

He wrote: there "are about 18 suicides per day among America's 25 million veterans."

That works out to about 6,570 per year, which Katz admits in the same e-mail, "is supported by the CBS numbers."

In an e-mail late Monday to CBS News, Katz wrote that the reason the numbers were not released was due to questions about the consistency and reliability of the findings - and that there was no public cover up involved.

Please help us in our fight for better care.

Casey

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post #2 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 11:12 AM
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WOW, this is a real shame, do they know what the real reasons are behinf the attempts? IMO this is never the answer, its a loss of life and a selfish move. Take it from someone who had experianced a suicide in his family, although it was not war related my litte brother would have been the same age as some of the young men in the service today. He took his life about 3 years ago on the morning of his 21st birthday. Now if hte goverment is covering it up and dragging its feet, which it might be doing then i say well done, but could you have not found a better wya t oexpose the issue.
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post #3 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
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Well, take it from a Vet. After a deployment, the thought that run through your head are terrible. I use to call it selfish too, but feeling certain things, and knowing what other went through, I'm not so quick to pass judgment. The VA need to clean up their act. I posted this on CamaroZ28.com, but they took it down.

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post #4 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 02:11 PM
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i agree that the va needs to do something aswell but it still is a very selfish act, leaving famliy memebrs to wonder why, in this case you may not have the why but like in my case there was the why. to the best of all our knowledge my brother was happy go lucky, on the highschool football tam and goign somewhere with his life. its a shame that camaroz28 took it down, i guess mabye they dont like the idea that the gove is bad and corrupt.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 02:24 PM
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The VA needs a huge foot in the arse. Vets have been getting jacked by them forever. My father finally won his case against them after 17 years of fighting. Now they are dragging their feet about paying up.

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post #6 of 10 Old 04-25-2008, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by camarodb View Post
i agree that the va needs to do something aswell but it still is a very selfish act, leaving famliy memebrs to wonder why, in this case you may not have the why but like in my case there was the why. to the best of all our knowledge my brother was happy go lucky, on the highschool football tam and goign somewhere with his life. its a shame that camaroz28 took it down, i guess mabye they dont like the idea that the gove is bad and corrupt.
Maybe they got scared of the black SUVs following them, unlike our fearless leader Tim! He gets scared when they aren't following him now.

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post #7 of 10 Old 04-26-2008, 05:18 AM
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Better ways to expose things...

Quote:
Originally Posted by camarodb View Post
WOW, this is a real shame, do they know what the real reasons are behinf the attempts? IMO this is never the answer, its a loss of life and a selfish move. Take it from someone who had experianced a suicide in his family, although it was not war related my litte brother would have been the same age as some of the young men in the service today. He took his life about 3 years ago on the morning of his 21st birthday. Now if hte goverment is covering it up and dragging its feet, which it might be doing then i say well done, but could you have not found a better wya t oexpose the issue.
He hit it right on the head - FIND A BETTER WAY TO EXPOSE THIS...Have you contacted your congressman yet? If not then try it, otherwise this just seems like petty bickering/venting. If you're going to talk about it, make the talking count - contact your congressman. What you're doing now will not begin any "crusade" & sway the public to act on this quickly. I understand that you want to start informing people somewhere, but take many avenues at the same time - one of them being your congressman, the others being areas such as this.

Did you notice your last post got taken down? (if it's still up I could not find it). You came DANGEROUSLY close to being reported to military authorities with your last post about the number of people & where they were at, etc...

I've been there before - been attacked by mortars, gunfire, missed being IED'd under a bridge (The 3rd truck after mine got hit) - I don't feel any guilt or need for suicide. I'm definitely not saying that I'm better than anyone else - just different. There are SO MANY active duty people that don't have any negative mental effects after being over there - we're all made up differently & some people have permanent mental problems, some don't.

I agree that all the news reports & the medical care I've given people that were over there indicate that the VA needs to step things up....just make sure you're trying to move this forward in other ways - primarily your congressman.

Last edited by classicrockr; 04-26-2008 at 05:37 AM.
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post #8 of 10 Old 04-26-2008, 05:34 AM
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Other viewpoints

Many of the veterans who have committed suicide may or may not have asked for help. We automatically want to blame the system for missing things "They should have recognized the symptoms & kept that person from killing themselves" is a phrase I've heard so many times but did EVERY SINGLE PERSON who killed themselves show definite signs that they were going to do it? In cases where it's obvious or they've mentioned killing themselves, they're going to find a way to do it unless they're locked up/tied down. If they haven't said anything or their actions don't indicate suicide, their fate is in their own hands.

I still believe that the VA may not act as fastly as they could,but military medicine overall is like this. At my base, patients are limited to 15 min. appointments - often the Dr.'s never have enough time to hear all that a patient needs to say and get the right medical exams done. The VA system is in a similiar state - too many patients, not enough health care providers and lawyers to handle the workload. I don't believe the VA is intentionally trying to ignore people to save money, I believe they just don't have enough money to hire more people to get the job done correctly.
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post #9 of 10 Old 04-26-2008, 06:51 PM
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as a disabled comabte vet from Iraq I think about on a non stop bsaes it's like what all you did over there or saw or had done to people around you or too you. then come back too sent from appt to another sometimes 10 a week and ypu see
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post #10 of 10 Old 04-27-2008, 03:46 PM
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WTF...some people really suck...I got a lot of respect for vets.


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