We Value Our Vets….
Submitted By: Rich Ely
Susquehanna County Director
of Veterans Affairs-VSO
Corner = We Value Our Vets
by: Rich Ely, Director Susquehanna County Veterans Affairs
September is suicide awareness month. Unfortunately, our
country continues to have problems with suicides despite increased efforts to
identify and assist those at risk. This issue is especially relevant to
veterans. Veterans account for approximately 7% of the nation’s population and
account for approximately 18% of all deaths by suicide. Oftentimes, be it
veterans or civilians, the path to this destructive behavior is due to mental
health disorders, trauma or post-traumatic stress disorders.
The Veterans Health Administration defines trauma as “a
typical human response to atypical situations or events.” There are two different types of trauma.
Those include interpersonal trauma and external trauma. “Interpersonal Trauma”
can be things such as childhood sexual and/or physical abuse, neglect, sexual
assault/military sexual trauma (MST), domestic violence, loss due to homicide,
torture and forcible confinement, elder abuse. “External Trauma” includes war,
such as combat, killing, witnessing death, prisoner of war, dismemberment,
moral or physical injury, sudden death of a loved one, being a victim of crime,
loss to suicide, accidents (vehicle, plane, etc.), or natural disasters. An
estimated 70% of adults in the United States of America have, or will
experience, a traumatic event at least once in their lives. About 7-8% of every
100 people will have a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder/issue at some point in
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in
the US, and the 2nd leading cause of death for people age 10 to 34.
More than 90% of people who die by suicide show symptoms of a health/emotional
challenge before acting to hurt themselves. Although the numbers are dropping
due to improving awareness and support for those at risk, each day in the
United States approximately 14 Veterans die by suicide. The prevalence of
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Veterans by era are: Vietnam era 30.9%,
Gulf War 10.1%, and Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom 11-20%
in a given year.
Susquehanna County is not immune from this problem. In my
five years as the Director of Veteran Affairs, the number of our counties
veteran suicides can be counted on one hand. However, each is tragic, and one
is one too many. One never knows when they may encounter an individual, friend,
or relative in crisis or who is having suicidal ideations. Warning signs may include hopelessness, rage
or anger, reckless behavior, increased alcohol or drug abuse, withdrawal from
friends, family and society, anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or sleeping
all the time, as well as dramatic changes in mood.
If you, or someone close to you, exhibits such
tendencies, they should be referred for treatment by a health care professional
and ensure that an appointment is made. For crisis situations or for more
assistance a Suicide Hotline/Veterans Crisis Line is available 24 hours each
day at 1-800-273-8255 (press 1) or by text at 838255.
questions or concerns may also contact the Susquehanna County Veterans Affairs
Office at 570-278-5955 for additional information or reference materials and
contact numbers. Unfortunately, Susquehanna County is not exempt from these
challenges. We are proud to have caring members in our communities that will reach out to help others because
here in Susquehanna County, we value our citizens and “We Value our Vets.”