OSTRICHIZED (22 suicides a day, a suicide every 65 minutes. )

Good Morning!!! As the month of April 2014 closed, so many good things have happened in the news. And that is what I like to write about in these newsletters.  Don’t worry – the ‘but’ comes later!! It just seems like I had wanted to send this newsletter out back in the middle of the month and never did…and now I have 2 months to speak about. Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s 22 suicides a day, a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher.

The VA researchers used death records from 21 states to come up with a 2010 national estimate for veterans of all ages. As a group, veterans are old. Military service being far rarer than it was in the days of the draft, more than 91% of the nation’s 22 million veterans are at least 35 years old, and the overwhelming majority did not serve in the post-9/11 era.

About 72% of veterans are at least 50. It is not surprising, then, that the VA found that people in this age group account for 69% of veteran suicides — or more than 15 of the 22 suicides per day.

What is contributing to the 22 suicides  a day number: The veteran-suicide statistics are likely to become a topic on Feb. 13 when the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs holds a hearing to explore whether veterans are “overcoming barriers to quality mental health care.”, Meanwhile, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonprofit advocacy group representing more than 200,000 members, said the nation should be “outraged” by rate of veterans who are taking their own lives — nearly one per hour.

Volunteers in dark green hooded sweatshirts spread out across the National Mall on Thursday, planting 1,892 small American flags in the grass between the Washington Monument and the Capitol. Each flag represented a veteran who had committed suicide since Jan. 1, a figure that amounts to 22 suicides each day.

“We’ve waited too long to take on this action,” he said. Then, mentioning the 22 suicides every day, he added, “That’s an epidemic that we cannot allow to continue, 22 suicides per day.”

The analysis found that the actual number of estimated suicides per day among veterans has remained relatively stable, ranging from 20 per day in 2000 to 18 per day in 2007 and 22 suicides per day in 2009 and 2010, the latest estimates available, according to a report on the study released Friday. The rate of suicide among veterans who use VA health care services has remained steady in recent years, at about 36 per 100,000. 22 suicides per day.

About 22 suicides are committed each day in 2010. Previous estimates from the VA put the number at 18.

While much attention has been paid to suicides by veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, the report indicates the problem is worse among older veterans. About 70 percent of veterans who commit suicide are over age 50, the average is 22 suicides per day.

Under the Obama Administration, at least 22 suicides are committed every day. Active duty suicides in the military jumped by 30% since 2008, with one soldier, sailor, or marine expected to commit suicide in the next 25 hours. Ex-military suicides also increased 10% over the same period to about one every hour.

According to Joachim Hagopian, a West Point graduate and former Army officer, “22 suicides a day in unacceptable, more military personnel died from suicide in 2012 than from fighting in Afghanistan and once they return home and become civilians they are killing themselves at a rate three times that of military active duty personnel.” The April 9th hearings are following release of a report the VA quietly paid $200 million to settle 1,000 wrongful death suits that were filed over a ten year period following 9/11. Hagopian believes the military has been trying to avoid public discussion of the military’s 22 suicides a day.

The Department of Defense 2014 budget states that as the US transitions out of the cost of being in Afghanistan, the Defense Department will be allocating increased funding for mental health programs for US soldiers and veterans. The Obama administration is hoping this will help to lower the more than 22 suicides a day.

With 22 veterans expected to commit suicide today (22 suicides), developing and expanding effective veterans’ mental health and social support systems must be a priority of the Obama Administration, Veterans Administration, and Congress. These men and women have given their best for America; it is our responsibility to provide the best for our heroes.

That’s 1,892 former soldiers who have killed themselves since the beginning of 2014, (22 suicides per day) according the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America organization (IAVA). But even that is a conservative number, some say, as there is no centralized system to track veteran suicides.

A recent poll found that more than half of post-9/11 veterans know at least one colleague who attempted or managed to kill themselves. For many, the list of friends lost to suicide is much longer. “How can we accept 22 suicides a day”, asked a Pentagon spokesman.

Mental health is one of the greatest challenges facing returning soldiers, but a deadly combination of indifference, stigma, red tape, and government dysfunction are to blame for the sobering numbers. Citing Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) statistics, the IAVA claims that 22 ex-service members die 22 suicides every single day.

That was the message brought to Washington last week by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their supporters, in their annual “Storm the Hill – 22 suicides” campaign, which aims to raise awareness among lawmakers about the struggles of returning service members. This year, suicide topped the list.

As part of the campaign, the group took to the National Mall, where they placed a flag for each vet lost to 22 suicides per day.

First of all, I want to welcome and announce the newest additions to the TADSAW Service Dog Teams across the  Country, since the last WOW Moment. Here goes the GOOD news –  Congratulations and Good Luck to the following Teams and the date passing the TADSAW Public Access Temperament Test:

 Duane & BRENIN: TSD0231  and Don & TRUMAN: TSD 0232 –  Houston area – trained by Therese on 03/27
 Michael & BEE: TSD0233 San Angelo area –  trained by Gary on 03/27
 MaLena & JEZEBELLE: TSD0234 and Joey & DAKOTA: TSD0235 –  Camp Lejeune area – trained by Derrick on 03/29  Brian & DUKE: TSD0236 – San Antonio area – trained by Brent on 03/29
 Hannah & ZOE: TSD0237 – Southern Michigan – trained by Ken; on 04/10
 Robert & THOR: TSD0238 and Brandon & AJAX: TSD0239 –  Fort Worth area – trained by Michelle on 04/12
 Lance & GINGER: TSD0240,  Michael & DUKE: TSD0241 and Fernando & LOLA: TSD0242 – Fort Hood area -trained by Jessica on 04/12
Byron & SHEA: TSD0243 – San Angelo – also trained  by Gary on 04/12
Jerry & VANDER: TSD0244 and David & MAX: TSD0245 – Fort Campbell area – trained by Leah on 04/23
Matthew & SARGE: TSD0246 and Cory & Duke: TSD0247 – Fort Worth area – trained by Michelle on 04/26
David & HACKER: TSD0248 – Fort Hood area –  also trained by Jessica on 04/26
Brandon & TRIGGER: TSD0249 – East Texas area – trained by Randy of Shreveport on 04/30
22 suicides
22 suicides

Hannah & ZOE TSD0237 are the first TADSAW Team, from Southern Michigan,  trained and accredited by Ken the Trainer, living in Northern Indiana. A Double in FIRSTS!!! For Michigan and Indiana and Ken!! Thank You for your patience and support.

Congratulations and Thank You to all of the above, The Teams and their Trainers, for their patience, hard work and support of the TADSAW program. Good Luck with your future…. May Life’s journey again bring happiness to all.
The results for March 2014 are in and 178 applications were mailed to wounded warriors; of which 65 were completed and returned during March, and another 25 were completed from the previous months. A total of 90 people were ready to start training during April 2014, whether having their personal dog evaluated or getting a rescue shelter dog  for the training. That means if this trend continues, TADSAW would have almost 1000 Teams in-training during 2014…. but this means 3 veterans would be assisted every day and  that would possibly account for a decrease in the number of daily suicides from 22 to 19!!!!! That is the real WOW!!!!
TADSAW received word from a Texas State University graduate student, working on a Masters degree, using information gathered on the effect of the Service Dog on the Post Traumatic Stress symptoms experienced by the Veteran during the training period. The time frame studied was pre-training thru the Public Access Temperament Test and included 53 Teams trained and accredited, from all across the United States. The results of the study showed a 22.9% decrease in the severity of the PTSD symptoms for the Veterans/warriors. This is a very significant.
Here is the Yuotube link if you would like more information:
Its IS the end of April, and the cell phone did not stop ringing. And now the results from April 2014 are in and an all time high of 192 applications were requested and mailed out, with 66 being  completed and returned to the office. That’s 34%  getting ready to train and a total of 77 were received.  From August 2010 thru September 2011, tadsaw had a total of 244 applications and 6 accredited Service Dog Teams. Today marked the 51st TADSAW Service Dog Team accredited in 2014, and repeating 192 applications for the month.
All I know is that TADSAW needs more DOLLARS donated now than ever before, especially if there are 1000 Teams in-training and becoming accredited Service Dog Teams. AND I mean really BIG Bucks!!!! Like Six Zeroes big behind the comma!!!! The Veterans need your assistance NOW!!!! Make a dream become a REALITY!!!
And the word ‘OSTRICHIZED’  – this refers to having acted like an ostrich and putting your head in the sand so you can ignore what is going on around you. You probably will not find this word in Webster’s Dictionary or Roget’s Thesaurus, but you will find it in Bart’s newsletters.  And it seems like that when trying to deal with bureaucracy and trying to do the “RIGHT” thing and not let any of the 22 suicides fall thru the cracks in the system. It is not a crack, but rather a huge sinkhole!!!!!!!
Back in October 2010, Patsy and I have the pleasure of meeting and  speaking with Mr. Ross Perot, Sr., only 2 months into the TADSAW program. Mr. Perot asked me “How many people can you help with this program??” At the time, I truly did not have an answer that seemed good enough, and it took almost a year when the AHA moment arrived.  TADSAW may only assist one wounded warrior at a time and it also saves a shelter dog doomed to euthanasia. BUT it also ‘puts back’ into the family, the neighborhood and the Community.
And to think that TADSAW has this opportunity to affect the Quality of Life for the lives of 1000 Warriors, 1000 Dogs, 1000 families, 1000 neighborhoods and 1000 communities across the Country. Now that is a real WOW!!!
Be part of the WOW – and make a difference. As a friend told me the other day “Learn One – Do One – Teach One”!!! Please pass this Moment on to others in order to help these Warriors and the Dogs….
Have a great week and an even better Life……
 As always, I remain,
Bart Sherwood
Program Director – TADSAW, INC.
**NEW BLOGSITE: www.tadsaw-wowmoments.org
**NEW VIDEOS: Therapy Dogs Heal Troops (UMTV)   **Must View**
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFACrnTV58Y&feature=youtube_gdata_player  **