Letters from Helen

Letters from Helen

Inspiration So Magnificent It Needs to Be Shared

The first family to receive a gift from Once a Soldier to cover their funeral costs came to us in December of 2018. Helen Taylor is the mom of a suicide veteran. Helen and her family have been living with the pain for over 3 years before she commented on this post about PTSD and Veteran Suicide rates. Her comment stuck out to me because it held real gratitude under a immensely heaving burden of loss.

In the months that followed, she and I kept in touch. Parents who lose their children this way find themselves in a sad place. I worried about Helen when I didn’t hear from here, but she always popped up, like daisies in Spring. And that’s what she is, a resilient fountain of strength  who deserves our appreciation. She’s also has a way with words that I’ve been able to enjoy by myself, until now. Now I feel her motivational appreciation might be needed elsewhere. So here are the her letters to me, and believe me, she gives me way more credit that I deserve, but that’s what makes her so special.

What follows are excerpted contents of some of her e-mails to me.

September 2019

Wow, Dave I am so happy and so proud to know you. All that you have done is absolutely amazing. The understanding, knowledge, dedication you have for these soldiers and their families is absolutely amazing. Once A Soldier has done so so much for me. I hope you know that you are truly a special person and that Cedrick, his family and I love you forever!!!!

I came from a very, very bad place that you have taken me from. Knowing that Cedrick’s name is associated with Once A Soldier makes me so proud. He was a strong, brave and dynamic soldier. He was so proud of the uniform and loved his fellow comrades. Looking at your work helps me survive each day. It brings my heart joy to read and see what you have accomplished. You have built your castle in the sky for sure, and Cedrick has a special place for you right with all the soldiers. But take your time getting there my friend, as you are still needed right here.

I share your message with so many people. I hope to be able to join in and help in some small way. I’m working myself up to that point only by what you have done for me and so many others. No therapist, medication or MD has helped me like you have. Please know that you are a very blessed person and please keep up the work that you do for the soldiers. I wish we could stop Veteran Suicide all together and your work is saving lives I am sure. If not the veteran himself, you have definitely saved a few family members (including myself).

I just can’t thank you enough. Please know that I pray for you, our family and the ONCE A SOLDIER family every day. You have made a difference in this world to so many. GOD LOVE YA,

August 2019

Good Morning Dave & Staff:

Just wanted to give you a sincere, grateful, heartfelt thank you for keeping Cedrick’s picture on your website. It makes me feel so proud and happy to know that someone still gets to know my son. What a great person he was. Maybe, from the clouds above us & with his Angel wings, he can help others in some small way.

Your organization has helped me in so many ways. Before I knew about Once A Soldier all I did was cry. I thought I was alone in my everyday suffering. I thought no one cared & that no one would ever know Cedrick. I have some peace in knowing that you have the strength to help families and keep our soldier’s memories alive.

Thank you & I hope God keeps you all strong, healthy and in the fight to help all soldiers with PTSD & families that suffer with such great loss. Blessings to you, your staff and their families.

Much Love….

Helen Taylor, Cedrick’s Proud Mom

September 2019

Good Afternoon Dave:

Just wanted to wish your wife a Happy Mother’s Day. Hope your family is doing well and that you have new glasses now. LOL….

And to you, thank you, thank you, thank you. When I see Cedrick’s picture on OAS I am so proud of him and so thankful for him. You have truly helped me more than you will ever know. I don’t want my son and all the other soldiers forgotten.

My best to you and your family….

Wow, Dave you are the best. Just knowing that made my day today. You are truly amazing and I am so happy that things are going well with OAS. You should be very proud of yourself for your idea, brain storming, work, dedication and getting OAS up and running. You are building your castle in the sky right now! You and your team are loved. Thank you, again, for your kind words about Cedrick (wish you could have met him).

May 2019

Dear Dave:

Don’t ever under estimate yourself or doubt yourself. You are a strong, dedicated loving soul who is doing good for so many. I often wonder what my legacy will be or how I will be remembered, I have done so little. But you, what a different story. Your accomplishments are just amazing. You will always be remembered and your legacy will live on in soldiers, their families, in government, the public, etc…… I truly believe you are a gift to so many. Please don’t ever forget that. Cedrick and I thank you with all our hearts and trust that you always keep in your heart & mind that you are truly a special person. I wish I was there to give you a big hug and let you know how much you mean to so many. But, all I can do is thank you over and over again. You have touched so many, you are truly a special person. J

May 2019

Good Morning Dave:

Thinking of you, OAS and your family. Sending prayers for everyone’s safety during the storm. Be safe and hoping this storm goes quickly out to sea. Much Luv for everyone……

TWO DAY LATERS

Cool, glad everyone was safe. Hope the sun is shining brightly now! Have a good day.

January 2019

Hi Dave:

My sincere apologies for not getting back to you. If you are mad at me, I truly understand. I lost it for awhile and was afraid to contact you. I’m back to work and just wanted to say I am sorry. All that you did and continue to do for soldiers is greatly appreciated. I wish you and your family well.

There are more e-mails, but this amount should get the point across. Helen Taylor, who lost her son, Sgt. Cedrick Allan Taylor, is as much a part of Once a Soldier as anyone else here. And for that, we thank her.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

2019 VA Report Cements Soldier Suicide as Veteran Suicide

2019 VA Report Cements Soldier Suicide as Veteran Suicide

Annual Report Removes Active Duty Deaths – Lowers Fatalities to 17 a Day

Focus Now Sharpens on the Families

For years, National Veteran Suicide Prevention reports have cited that 20+ veterans commit suicide each day, spurring widely known social media campaigns to raise awareness on the devastating statistic. In 2019’s Annual Report, released on September 19th, the Department of Veterans Affairs excludes active duty service members in the count. Reporting by the VA now only includes those defined as a veteran under Title 38; a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.

 

Each Death Affects 135 Surviving Individuals – That’s 8 Million Annually

The numbers for veterans are still disparaging, showing that suicides continue to rise amongst those who fought for our freedom. According to their data, 6,139 Veterans died by suicide in 2017, increasing X% from 5,787 in 2005. This also brings the average of suicides of veterans, no longer including active service members, from 15.9 each day in 2005 to 16.8 each day in 2017. The most staggering figure is that 60,000 veterans have taken their own lives in the last decade, with each death estimated to affect 135 surviving individuals. That’s over 8 million lives affected by veteran suicide in the last 10 years. 

Others note that the data released specific to active-duty troops, while making up a lesser percentage of the overall suicide rate, is also alarming considering the suicide rate for troops jumped 13% in 2018. The overall number rose 34% percent between 2013 and 2018, citing what the VA calls a “national public health concern that affects people everywhere.”  While the daily total of suicides between veterans and active-duty troops remains around 20 per day, the rates climb year over year. One thing is clear, Veterans continue to be at an increased risk to suicide compared to the total U.S. Population. 

Now that separate reporting is released, we have a more complete picture of where suicide takes place during the journey from civilian, to active duty, to veteran. Having a more clear picture will hopefully drive researchers and decision makers to better mental health practices and intervention for the men and women in this country who continue to fight even after leaving the war zones. We know these numbers are dismal, but at Once a Soldier, our work starts once all hope appears to be lost. You can take part in this important work by contributing to our support programs for families who’ve been left behind.

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans. The emotional toll is incalculable.  We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Stellate Ganglion Block – The Low-Cost PTSD Killer?

Stellate Ganglion Block – The Low-Cost PTSD Killer?

Injection is “Outside the Box” Thinking Needed for PTSD Treatment

 The stellate ganglion is part of the sympathetic nervous system that is located in your neck, on either side of your voice box. A stellate ganglion block is an injection of medication into these nerves that can help relieve pain in the head, neck, upper arm and upper chest. It also can help increase circulation and blood supply to the arm.

Stellate ganglion block injections “reset” the nervous system. This nerve cluster is key for controlling our response to perceived danger – the “fight or flight” response.

Scientists claim one shot to numb this cluster can ‘reset’ our nervous system. It also decreases adrenaline levels.

The injection has been used successfully since it was invented in Illinois in 2006.

 

PTSD Checklist – Military Scores Reduced

A study consisting of 30 self-reported PTSD military subjects was completed and reported in September 2016. You can read it here.

The PTSD Checklist – Military (PCL-M) scores were significantly lowered. The checklist consists of a series of questions that the subject answers by ranking on a scale how severe certain symptoms are. A base line score of 49 was average. For the first week and 2-4 months after their scores remained an average of 32. That means you’re out of danger for PTSD symptoms and the soldier or veteran suicide associated with prolonged PTSD. As a result of the significant reduction in hyperarousal and avoidance symptoms observed, this study supports incorporation of SGB into PTSD treatment plans. Why hasn’t it?

Research Background

RTI International, a research institute in North Carolina, Womack Army Medical Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, have all been given funds to investigate the treatment.

The study, which was scheduled to run until November 2017, is slated to include about 300 active-duty servicemembers per trial. However, RTI said they have struggled to recruit volunteers – even after offering $115 per person to be involved.

There is an urgent need to address a critical lack of advancement in the psychopharmacologic treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder PTSD. Most medications used on- or off-label for PTSD currently belong to typical categories of psychotropic medications. Current treatments that use psychotherapy and pharmaceuticals have a low success rate in the veteran population. With only 50% of veterans seeking care and a 40% recovery rate, current strategies will effectively reach no more than 20% of all veterans who need PTSD treatment. Source

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Veteran Suicide Families

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Veteran Suicide Families

CBT Treatment Usually Involves Efforts to Change Thinking Patterns

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a short-term, goal-oriented psychotherapy treatment that takes a hands-on, practical approach to problem-solving. Its goal is to change patterns of thinking or behavior that are behind people’s difficulties, and so change the way they feel.

This is commonplace and a simple concept to grasp – it is focused therapy and OAS believes that CBT is a viable treatment option for families to consider. 

With CBT, it is important to underline that advances in CBT have been made on the basis of both research and clinical practice. Indeed, CBT is an approach for which there is ample scientific evidence that the methods that have been developed actually produce change. In this manner, CBT differs from many other forms of psychological treatment.

CBT is based on a model or theory that it’s not events themselves that upset us, but the meanings we give them. If our thoughts are too negative, it can block us seeing things or doing things that don’t fit – that disconfirm – what we believe is true. In other words, we continue to hold on to the same old thoughts and fail to learn anything new.

Therapies Specifically for PTSD from the National Center for Veteran Studies

Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) and Conjoint Behavioral Couples Therapy (CBCT) for PTSD are two treatments that significantly reduce PTSD symptoms among military personnel and veterans. Over half of patients who receive the treatments fully recover from PTSD. CPT typically involves 12 individual therapy sessions and CBCT typically involves 16 couples sessions.

Brief Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (BCBT) for Suicide Prevention significantly reduces depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and the risk of suicide attempts among military personnel and veterans. The majority of patients who receive BCBT also report significant improvements in meaning and purpose in life. BCBT typically involves 12 individual therapy sessions.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) improves the length and duration of one’s sleep, and increases daytime energy levels. Imagery Rehearsal Therapy (IRT) significantly reduces the frequency and intensity of nightmares. CBT-I and IRT typically involve 6-10 individual therapy sessions.

 

 

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

We Did It! A Bill for Our Families Is One Step Closer

We Did It! A Bill for Our Families Is One Step Closer

Congressional Legislative Director Nick Vance Meets With Once a Soldier

Representative John Rutherford (R) Represents Our Home District

After our first productive meeting in August of 2019 with Florida Representative John Rutherford’s District Director Chris Miller, we took the next step and met with Nick Vance, the Legislative Director.

“It’s a very long road for a bill to become a law, but we’re on the path now. This will be a big win for our veteran families of soldier suicide.” says David Barbush, Founder and CEO of Once a Soldier. Those sentiments came just after Mr. Barbush’s meeting with Representative John Rutherford’s Legislative Director Nick Vance.

During the 30-minute exchange, Mr. Vance showed a clear understanding of how best to advance our common goals. There was also a clear message of writing a bill that would grant funds for those programs that would help with the emotional support needed by veteran families after a suicide.

Next Steps for Our Families

Once a Soldier offered to bring one of our families to Washington D. C. to let Congress hear their stories first hand. That offer was accepted even though no date or clear opportunity was identified.

Secondly, Once a Soldier also offered to pen a first draft with preface language that would set the table for the details of the bill. That offer was graciously passed upon, as the office of Florida’s Fourth District congressman can take the lead.

Furthermore, timely follow-up on the progress was promised by Mr. Vance as he navigates his landscape inside the halls of Congress. Recent bills related to our cause were forwarded by Mr. Rutherford. The PAWS Act would mandate the financial support for nonprofit veteran charities that train PTSD service dogs and their veteran owners. That Act is still trying to get passed, but it shows that we have a friend in the right place.

 

ABOUT ONCE A SOLDIER

Our Veterans are killing themselves in record numbers mostly due to PTSD. An overmatched VA can’t take care of them or their families. We will.

Soldier suicide leaves Veteran families with thousands of dollars of bills unpaid, mostly bank loans.

We are the only nonprofit standing with the families after a veteran suicide. Stand with us.

Our Mission: Become the preferred channel for donors, advocates and volunteers who care about veteran families left behind after a soldier suicide.

Sponsor a Family

Jamie Brunette

Your donation can go to one of our most recent families in need or to one of your choosing.Click here for more.