If you are the parent of a combat Marine who is struggling with reintegration, please contact us. We offer education and a place to connect and share with others who understand the helplessness you may be feeling. We have been in touch with far too many veterans and veteran families affected by suicide from suicide attempt survivors to families mourning the unbearable loss of their loved one to suicide. Our Marine Parents Founder said it best: "One suicide is too many. One more suicide is too late."
A letter from our Founder, September 17, 2016
I sent a newsletter a few weeks ago asking parents of Marines to be mindful of the journey each Marine family takes and to understand we can each be in a different level of emotions in that journey depending on what stage of the Corps our Marine is in. From boot camp, to deployment, to combat, to after the Corps; each stage involves different emotions. I ask you today to be mindful as well as you read this newsletter.
Each time I try to write about Marines who have died by suicide, something happens to pull me back from sharing with you. Today my heart goes out to Deb, a long-time volunteer of MarineParents.com; her 3/8 Marine son died by suicide last night. Two years ago, my heart went out to Marie. The year before, to Marissa. Two weeks ago to Tim and Kathy. My heart is truly breaking for these Marine parents.
Marie asked me to help her in her quest to prevent Marine suicide. This is for you Marie. For Marissa. For Deb. For Tim and Kathy.
This newsletter is for the parents of Marines who have been combat deployed and are now struggling with reintegration into the civilian world. I'm pretty certain that if your Marine was combat deployed, you feel a need to learn and understand all you can about reintegration whether it's one year or fifteen years after combat. If your Marine is struggling or has become distant from you or other family members, you are likely searching for answers and looking for other parents who understand what you may be going through.
As an organization we have been taking steps quietly, in the background, to educate parents who ask. We established WST, Warrior Support Team, as a place for information and to provide a place to connect and share about combat recovery and reintegration. I've always kept quiet about these issues because of my own personal fears.
My fears can no longer stand in the way. I'm looking for you, the parent who continued to read this newsletter because your Marine is struggling. Please, if this is you, contact me today to let me know a little about your post 9/11 Marine's struggles with reintegration after combat. Please include information that would be pertinent for me to understand the battalion and time frame deployed. I make no promises, but I can tell you we hope to help by providing you with information and a place to connect and share with others.
If you are the parent of a suicide Marine, please let me know if you would like a place to connect and share with others in a private online community.
One suicide is too many; one more suicide is too late. Let's join forces to educate and support one another. Let's help Marie in her wish to prevent Marine suicide. Through our own education and sharing with one another, we can take another step to help our struggling Marines.
God Bless and Semper Fi,
Tracy Della Vecchia
Founder and Executive Director
You may email me directly Tracy@MarineParents.com or contact the corporate office, 573-449-2003
Take time today to learn the signs of suicide risk and help spread the word about mental health resources. The Veterans Crisis Line reminds us that one small act can make a big difference. We can work together to save lives.
You can put a bag full of tools and resources in the hands of a veteran to aid in reintegration after combat deployments. Request a Warrior Reintegration Bag today.
*Identifying Signs of Crisis
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) urges groups and individuals nationwide to stay alert for signs of suicide risk. The first step in preventing suicide is understanding the warning signs; people may show signs of risk before considering harming themselves. Warning signs include:
- Hopelessness, feeling like there is no way out
- Anxiety, agitation, sleeplessness, or mood swings
- Feeling like there is no reason to live
- Rage or anger
- Engaging in risky activities without thinking
- Increasing alcohol or drug abuse
- Withdrawing from family and friends
The presence of the following signs requires immediate attention:
- Thinking about hurting or killing yourself
- Looking for ways to kill yourself
- Talking about death, dying, or suicide
- Self-destructive behavior such as drug abuse, weapons, etc.
If you notice these warning signs, tell a Veteran about the Veterans Crisis Line, or make the call yourself. Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online today at VeteransCrisisLine.net/Chat, or text to 838255 for free, confidential support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
*Information provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Crisis Line.
The American Association of Suicidology provides additional information on the warning signs of suicide. To learn more, click here or visit www.suicidology.org/resources/warning-signs.
Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Resources
Veterans Crisis Line
The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1, chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Mental Health Website
The VA Mental Health website provides an abundance of information, suicide prevention resources, and educational materials from a Suicide Attempt Survivor Family Resource Guide and information on how to talk to a child about a suicide attempt in your family to links to additional suicide prevention organizations like the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. To learn more, click here or visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov/index.asp.
Militarymentalhealth.org was created by the Military Pathways program and the Department of Defense. Military Pathways provides free, anonymous mental health and alcohol self-assessments for family members and service personnel in all branches including the National Guard and Reserve. For the Militarymentalhealth.org anonymous mental health self-assessment, click here or visit www.militarymentalhealth.org.
Vets Prevail is an online resource provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that was built in collaboration with the Veterans Health Administration, the National Science Foundation, and leading mental health researchers and clinicians. Vets Prevail is an innovative new online mental health tool that is tailored specifically to today's Veterans. To learn more, click here or visit https://www.vetsprevail.org.
afterdeployment (AD) provides self-care solutions targeting post-traumatic stress, depression, and other behavioral health challenges commonly faced after a deployment. For the suicide prevention portion of the afterdployment website, including a Suicide Prevention Workbook, click here or visit afterdeployment.t2.health.mil/topics-suicide-prevention.
Additional Suicide Prevention Resources
For a list of national organizations and federal agencies with information on suicide prevention, click here to view a list provided by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center or visit www.sprc.org/basics/national-organizations.
Warning Signs of Suicide
If someone you know is showing one or more of the following behaviors, he or she may be thinking about suicide. Don't ignore these warning signs. Get help immediately.
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself
- Looking for a way to kill oneself
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Displaying extreme mood swings
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255). Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If you think someone is in immediate danger, do not leave him or her alone—stay there and call 911.
Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act
On January 12, 2015, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, H.R. 203, which was signed into law one month later on February 12. On February 3, 2015, the Senate unanimously passed a similar bill.
The bill, named after a Marine veteran who committed suicide in 2011, is designed to help combat veteran suicides, and is being praised by veterans and suicide prevention groups as a victory in the war against this on-going problem.
The Senate bill calls for the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a website that will serve as a one-stop source of information on mental health services provided by the VA, for the VA to address a shortage of mental health care experts by allowing it (the VA) to recruit experts through a student loan repayment pilot program, and to extend the amount of time veterans have to seek mental health care services at VA to better address conditions such as Post Traumatic Stress.
The bill also calls for an evaluation of all VA mental health care and suicide prevention practices to determine what is working and make recommendations on what is not. It also calls for the VA to establish a new peer support program designed to help service members who are leaving the military access VA mental health services.
The House bill calls for the same actions to be taken on the part of the VA, as well as for the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to arrange for an independent third party evaluation, to be conducted by September 30, 2018, and each fiscal year thereafter, of the VA's mental health care and suicide prevention programs; and submit a report to Congress, by December 1, 2018, and each year thereafter, containing the most recent evaluations not yet submitted to Congress and any recommendations the Secretary considers appropriate.
Additionally, the House bill extends for one year a combat veterans' eligibility for VA hospital care, medical services, and nursing home care for illnesses that have not been medically proven to be attributable to their service, provided they: were discharged or released from active duty between January 1, 2009, and January 1, 2011, and did not enroll to receive such care during the five-year period of eligibility following their discharge.
What Does This Mean?
Affected Veterans can advantage of this enhanced enrollment opportunity until February 12, 2016 (when the law ends) by applying for enrollment online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits on the VA's website, on eBenefits at ebenefits.va.gov, by phone at 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. EST., or by visiting their local VA medical center.
To learn more about the story behind the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act or the Clay Hunt SAV Act and the story behind the Marine who inspired the law, you can follow the links below.
Remarks from President Barack Obama during the signing of the Clay Hunt SAV Act.
VA news and how the Clay Hunt SAV Act will affect benefits for some veterans.
Congressional records regarding the Clay Hunt SAV Act.