Postvention – After Veteran Suicide Prevention Fails

Postvention – After Veteran Suicide Prevention Fails

Veteran Families Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Postvention is the term given to a range of services after suicide prevention fails and the person took their own life. Veteran suicide prevention fails 22 times a day. For our mission, that means there are now 16 Veteran families in need of postvention services.

Our postvention services include:

Once A Soldier believes that the family serves just like the Veteran. For the end to be a suicide and the family left alone to deal with it, that’s not right. If you or a family you know is in need of postvention help, please call our Help Line or read about hiring a biohazard clean-up company,  or about inexpensive direct cremation options.

Marine Sergeant Tyson Zellaha

Faces of Veteran Suicide: Marine Sergeant Tyson Zellaha

Tyson was beloved by his sister who wrote an upbeat Silver Lining Story for him.

Our Postvention Mission is to Limit the Financial and Emotional Scars of Veteran Suicide

Image being the family of a Veteran suffering from PTSD. The Vet is on edge every day of their lives. Inside or outside of the house, anything can trigges the anxiety and fight or flight reaction. Being around that for years takes its toll on those around him or her as well. It’s like walking on a tightrope above an endless abyss of sadness and pain, and then one day, with the sound of a pistol shot ringing out to signal the start, the Veteran is dead and the family has fallen off the tight rope. 

The shock of the incident is soon overshadowed by the reality of a messy dead body in your bedroom, bathroom or garage. Biohazard clean up crews need to be found. The EMTs or police will arrive. The coroner follows right behind. Questions start to get asked. Answers are needed. But you’re falling down a pit. Free falling into a new life where only one this is certain: the loss and pain of this Veteran suicide will haunt you for the rest of your life.

More Veteran Suicide Information Provided by the Veteran Administartion.

Key statistics include the following:

• The number of Veteran suicides exceeded 6,000 each year from 2008 to 2017.

• Among U.S. adults, the average number of suicides per day rose from 86.6 in 2005 to 124.4 in 2017. These numbers included 15.9 Veteran suicides per day in 2005 and 16.8 in 2017.

• In 2017, the suicide rate for Veterans was 1.5 times the rate for non-Veteran adults, after adjusting for population differences in age and sex.

• Firearms were the method of suicide in 70.7% of male Veteran suicide deaths and 43.2% of female Veteran suicide deaths in 2017.

• In addition to the aforementioned Veteran suicides, there were 919 suicides among never federally activated former National Guard and Reserve members in 2017, an average 2.5 suicide deaths per day

Read the full VA report here. 



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.

Trump Record on Veterans Continues to Diss and Disappoint

Trump Record on Veterans Continues to Diss and Disappoint

Silver Spoons and Top Brass Never Mix

Trump and his record on Veterans continues to diss and disappoint Once A Soldier. We originally shared a compilation of well-documented actions determental to Active Duty and Veteran by the Trump Administration. The list runs the gamut from rude to ridiculous and from disgusting to disrespectful to our Veterans and their families.

Here’s another compilation, with some duplication, that drives home that actions speak louder than words, especially with this President. With this President, our military is weaker then when he started. HIs actions are morale crushing and our enemies must be loving that someone’s doing their dirty work for them.

This is Mickey Keeney, one of Trump’s “losers and suckers” who served in the Middle East. Mickey died of PTSD suicide days after this photo was taken.

It All Started with Dodging the Draft – Five Times

Reddit users can be very detailed in their post. For this updated and continuing list of how Trump continues to disappoint OAS with his record on Veterans, we thank u/TheBigPhilbowski for the research. Warning: the list is long and disturbing.


Trump dodged the draft 5 times by having a doctor diagnose him with bone spurs

No Trump in America has ever served in the military; this spans 5 generations, and every branch of the family tree. In fact, the reason his grandfather immigrated to America was to avoid military service

Trump knew since March 2020 that Russia paid bounties to kill American troops, yet he has done nothing

May 2020, the White House attempted to end National Guard deployments one day before they could claim benefits

The Trump admin seized 5 million masks intended for VA hospitals. Kushner distributes these masks to private entities for a fee, who then sells the masks to the government

Trump fired the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt after he warned superiors that COVID19 was spreading among his crew. The virus subsequently spread amongst the crew

After Iran’s retaliatory strike, 109 US troops suffered brain injuries. Trump dismissed these as “headaches.”

20/7/2017, in room 2E924 of the Pentagon, Trump told a room full of Generals, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies”

Pardoned multiple war criminals, which stomped on long standing military values, discipline, and command. Trump has no military experience (May&Nov, 2019)

Trump mocked Lt. Col. Vindman for his rank and uniform. He threatened said purple heart officer, resulting in the Army providing him protection

Trump’s Chief of Staff worked—in secret—to deny comprehensive health coverage to Vietnam Vets who suffered from Agent Orange

There is a facility in Tijuana for US veterans that Trump deported. Wounded war vet, Sen Duckworth (D) marked Veterans Day 2019 by visiting this facility

Russia took control of the main U.S. military facility in Syria abandoned on Trump’s orders. Russia now owns the airstrip we built

10/7/2019, Trump abruptly withdrew support from America’s allies in Syria after a phone call with Turkey’s president (Erdogan). Turkey subsequently bombed US Special Forces

Trump sent thousands of American troops to defend the oil assets of the country that perpetrated 9/11

Sept 2019, he made an Air Force cargo crew, flying from the U.S. to Kuwait stop in Scotland (where there’s no U.S. base) to refuel at a commercial airport (where it costs more), so they could stay overnight at a Trump property (which isn’t close to the airport). Trump’s golf courses are losing money, so he’s forcing the military to pay for 5-star nights there

Sept 2019, Pentagon pulled funds for military schools, military housing funds, and daycare to pay for Trump’s border wall

Aug 2019, emails revealed that three of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago pals, who are now running Veterans Affairs, are rampant with meddling. “They had no experience in veterans affairs (none of them even served in the military) nor underwent any kind of approval process to serve as de facto managers. Yet, with Trump’s approval, they directed actions and criticized operations without any oversight. They wasted valuable staff time in hundreds of pages of communications and meetings, emails show. Emails reveal disdainful attitudes within the department to the trio’s meddling.”

Veterans graves will be “dug up” for the border wall, after Trump instructed aides to seize private property. Trump told officials he would pardon them if they break the law by illegally seizing property

Children of deployed US troops are no longer guaranteed citizenship. This includes US troops posted abroad for years at a time (August 28, 2019)

2/8/2019, Trump requisitioned military retirement funds towards border wall

31/7/2019, Trump ordered the Navy rescind medals to prosecutors who were prosecuted war criminals

Trump denied a U.S. Marine of 6 years entry into the United States for his citizenship interview (Reported 17/7/2019)

Trump made the U.S. Navy Blue Angels violate ethics rules by having them fly at his July 4th political campaign event (4/7/2019)

Trump demanded US military chiefs stand next to him at 4th of July parade (reported 2/7/2019)

June 2019, Trump sent troops to the border to paint the fence for a better “aesthetic appearance”

Trump used his D-Day interview at a cemetery commemorating fallen US soldiers to attack a Vietnam veteran (6/6/2019)

Trump started his D-Day commemoration speech by attacking a private citizen (Bette Midler, of all people) (reported 4/6/2019)

Trump made his 2nd wife, Marla Maples, sign a prenup that would have cut off all child support if Tiffany joined the military (reported 4/6/2019)

27/5/2019, Trump turned away US military from his Memorial Day speech because they were from the destroyer USS John S. McCain

Trump ordered the USS John McCain out of sight during his visit to Japan (15/5/2019). The ship’s name was subsequently covered. (27/5/2019)

Trump purged 200,000 vets’ healthcare applications (due to known administrative errors within VA’s enrollment system) (reported on 13/5/2019)

Trump deported a spouse of fallen Army soldier killed in Afghanistan, leaving their daughter parentless (16/4/2019)

20/3/2019, Trump complained that a deceased war hero didn’t thank him for his funeral

Between 12/22/2018, and 1/25/2019, Trump refused to sign his party’s funding bill, which shut down the government, forcing the Coast Guard to go without pay, which made service members rely on food pantries. However, his appointees got a $10,000 pay raise

He banned service members from serving based on gender identity (1/22/2019)

He denied female troops access to birth control to limit sexual activity (on-going. Published 18/1/2019)

He tried to deport a marine vet who is a U.S.-born citizen (16/1/2019)

When a man was caught swindling veterans pensions for high-interest “cash advances,” Trump’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau fined him $1 (Jan 26, 2019)

He called a retired general a ‘dog’ with a ‘big, dumb mouth’ (Jan 1, 2019)

He increased privatization of the VA, leading to longer waits and higher taxpayer cost (2018)

He finally visited troops 2 years after taking office, but only after 154 vacation days at his properties (Dec 26, 2018)

He revealed a covert Seal Team 5 deployment, including names and faces, on Twitter during his visit to Iraq (Dec 26, 2018)

Trump lied to deployed troops that he gave them a 10% raise (12/26/2018). He tried giving the military a raise that was lower than the standard living adjustment. Congress told him that idea wasn’t going to work. Then after giving them the raise that Congress made him, he lied about it pretending that it was larger than Obama’s. It wasn’t

He fired service members living with HIV just before the 2018 holidays

He tried to slash disability and unemployment benefits for Veterans to $0, and eliminate the unemployability extrascheduler rating (Dec 17, 2018)

He called troops on Thanksgiving and told them he’s most thankful for himself (Thanksgiving, 2018)

He urged Florida to not count deployed military votes (Nov 12, 2018)

He canceled an Arlington Cemetery visit on Veterans Day due to light rain (Nov 12, 2018)

While in Europe commemorating the end of WWI, he didn’t attend the ceremony at a US cemetery due to the rain — other world leaders went anyway (Nov 10, 2018)

He used troops as a political prop by sending them on a phantom mission to the border and made them miss Thanksgiving with their families (Oct-Dec, 2018)

He stopped using troops as a political prop immediately after the election. However, the troops remained in muddy camps on the border (Nov 7, 2018)

Trump changed the GI Bill through his Forever GI Act, causing the VA to miss veteran benefits, including housing allowances. This caused many vets to run out of food and rent. (reported October 7, 2018)

Trump doubled the rejection rate for veterans requesting family deportation protections (July 5, 2018)

Trump deported active-duty spouses (11,800 military families face this problem as of April 2018)

He forgot a fallen soldier’s name (below) during a call to his pregnant widow, then attacked her the next day (Oct 23-24, 2017)

He sent commandos into an ambush due to a lack of intel, and sends contractors to pick them up, resulting in a commando being left behind, tortured, and executed. (Trump approved the mission because Bannon told him Obama didn’t have the guts to do it) (Oct 4, 2017)

He blocked a veteran group on Twitter (June 2017)

He ordered the discharge of active-duty immigrant troops with good records (2017-present)

He deported veterans (2017-present)

He said he knows more about ISIS than American generals (Oct 2016)

Oct 3, 2016, Trump said vets get PTSD because they aren’t strong (note: yes, he said it’s ‘because they aren’t strong.’ He didn’t say it’s ‘because they’re weak.’ This distinction is important because of Snopes)

Trump accepted a Purple Heart from a fan at one of his rallies and said: “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.” (Aug 2, 2016)

Trump attacks Gold Star families: Myeshia Johnson (gold star widow), Khan family (gold star parents) etc. (2016-present)

Trump sent funds raised from a Jan 2016 veterans benefit to the Donald J Trump Foundation instead of veterans charities (the foundation has since been ordered shut because of fraud) (Jan, 2016)

Trump said he has “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military” because he went to a military-style academy (2015 biography)

Trump said he doesn’t consider POWs heroes because they were caught. He said he prefers people who were not caught (July 18, 2015)

Trump said having unprotected sex was his own personal Vietnam (1998)

For a decade, Trump sought to kick veterans off of Fifth Avenue because he found them unsightly nuisances outside of Trump Tower. 1991


TD Foundation Grants Once A Soldier to Help Kids

TD Foundation Grants Once A Soldier to Help Kids

Veteran Family Non Profit Started by Iraqi Veteran

Kids and military service don’t mix very well. When it hits rock bottom for the kids is when both TD Foundation and Once A Soldier step in to help. TD Foundation founder Tom Deierlein recently approve a grant to Once A Soldier with help those kids of Veteran suicide in mind. We thank him.

A waiting list will never top the list of favorites. Ours was a constant source of aggravation, but no longer. Thanks to the TD Foundation, who granted us for four families, our waiting list in gone! We are overjoyed to have them as our partner now and will hope to keep the good coming over the years.

Our donors also pulled their weight for these last few weeks. Your gifts make the difference for two other families this August. Thank you!

Tom Deierlein in Iraq

Tom Deierlein in Iraq

Founder - TD Foundation

How TD Foundation Started in Wartime Iraq

From their About Us webpage: Our story begins with a return from a typical business trip in early October 2005. Tom Deierlein, a West Point graduate and former Airborne Ranger was activated in late 2005 and recalled to active duty military service after 12 years in the inactive reserves. There was a Western Union Telegram waiting on his door. He had thirty days to report.

After 5 months of training and waiting at Ft Jackson and Ft Bragg, Tom deployed to Baghdad in April of 2006. He was assigned as the Civil Affairs Officer for Sadr City. While deployed as a Civil Affairs Officer focused on reconstruction and economic development, he reviewed the terrible conditions in Sadr City, a slum of 2.3 million people in East Baghdad, Iraq. There he worked with his friends, family and digital media professionals back in US to start getting humanitarian aid to children in Baghdad. Everything from clothes, shoes, school supplies, toys and vitamins. This was the unofficial start of TD Foundation.


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.

Speaking On A National Crisis With Representative Rutherford

Speaking On A National Crisis With Representative Rutherford

 “Positive Progress”
The Latest on Stopping Veteran Suicide

Speakers Forum on October 25, 2020

Every two days, more United States veterans die by suicide than were killed in action during all of last year. But despite this disturbing statistic, and after almost nineteen years of post-9/11 conflicts, lawmakers and Defense Department officials still are no closer to ending the suicide crisis affecting veterans and their families throughout the country. The issue is complex – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can manifest itself in a multitude of ways, and there isn’t any guarantee for mental health care access to the veterans who need it most.

John Rutherford

John Rutherford

Congressman (R) from District 4 - FL

St. Augustine Event Presented by Once A Soldier

“Positive Progress” Speakers Forum featuring Rep. John Rutherford
When: October 25, 2020 from 6pm to 7:30 pm
Where: Gourmet Hut (17 Cuna Street, St. Augustine, FL)
Admission: Free — Seating is Limited to 45 Attendees
Complimentary hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine

Reserve Your Seat Here 


Once A Soldier’s team is dedicated to helping families in the United States who have been affected by a veteran’s suicide. It is our main mission to provide financial aid to families burdened by funeral and other expenses when a veteran they love takes their own life. In order to take our mission to the next level, and help even more families in need, we have been working with the Congressional Representative from Florida’s Fourth District, Rep. John Rutherford. Representative Rutherford and his team have listened to the needs of our organization and understand the scope of the problem our nation is facing when it comes to veteran suicide.

In order to raise awareness of this important issue right here in the Northeast Florida community, Representative Rutherford will be speaking at the Gourmet Hut (17 Cuna Street, St. Augustine, FL) on October 25th from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Along with other speakers from a veteran-owned PTSD clinic, and a father of a fallen soldier, Rep. Rutherford will be speaking about what it takes to combat the veteran and soldier suicide crisis. Get the details here.

Hosted outdoors in historic downtown St. Augustine, “Positive Progress – The Latest on Stopping Veteran Suicide” promises to set the standard on how we can tackle this issue from all sides and start saving lives. Rep. Rutherford will discuss how this will take a combined effort from the both legislative branch and the private sector. He will also share stories from the front lines to bring this issue completely into focus.

After the speakers have wrapped up, Once A Soldier will host a question and answer session. This is a great opportunity to speak one-on-one with the Founder and discuss any of our current and future initiatives. In addition, there will be complimentary beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres available throughout at the event. This is the only event of it’s kind and the outdoor seating is limited.

To abide by social distancing guidelines, all seating will be spaced appropriately, and masks are mandatory.

If you are interested in attending this free event, RSVP here!


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.

Hiring a Bio Hazard Clean-Up Company

Hiring a Bio Hazard Clean-Up Company

 Advice on How to Hire a Provider

After a Veteran suicide, the survivors must not only deal with the shock of a sudden death, but with the sad fact that the remains must go ASAP. That’s the job of the Coroner’s office who is called to the scene by the police or EMTs. They’re usually the first call. The next call should be to a bio-hazard clean-up and then your homeowners insurance agent. Here’s a list of other calls to make.

We spoke with Ginger Akemon of Bio-One Duval County, a franchise bio hazard company located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Ginger spoke with Once A Soldier about what Veteran families of suicide need to know about calling a bio-hazard company. FYI: Once A Soldier’s time of need service can also take this task on for you, as well as call funeral homes to negotiate the price so you can focus on other needs.

urn for ashes

How to Hire from a Compassionate Industry Expert

OAS: What should family or friends do when they discover the body?

Ginger: Try not to touch anything. You never know what bio-hazards the blood may contain. You need to keep yourself safe. Let the experts, the coroner for example, do their jobs the best they can by avoiding the area.

Don’t blow any fans or A/C directly in the area.

Don’t touch the blood.

Don’t clean up yourself. No one needs that trauma added on.

OAS: What questions should they ask when they call around to find help?

Ginger: First off, call at least two companies or more if you don’t find what you’re looking for in terms of price and compassion. As far as price goes, let them know that your loved one was a Veteran. If appropriate, also let them know that they had PTSD. Most in our industry will be able to offer an immediate discount. If they don’t, ask for it anyway.

On the other hand, you want the better person, not the better price, to help at a time like this. Every one is different, so you need to find your own comfort level with each.

Make sure they licensed and insured.

Make sure they don’t leave anything behind.

If you find something later, even a speck of something outside, call them if you want it gone. Get the peace of mind you deserve.

OAS: Will homeowners or renters insurance cover the cost?

Ginger: Homeowners insurance will pay but there’s probably a deductible. Some bio hazard companies will also deal with the insurance companies for you. Ask if they will. If not, you’ll have to call your insurance agent and let them know that you have a claim.

Rental insurance doesn’t cover it. It’s sad but that’s why we try to be so compassionate. We’re in this business to make a living, not make a killing.

OAS: Do they give Veterans a discount?

Ginger: We do. My dad as in the Navy for 27 years. Most will but always ask for a discount or for them to waive the deductible, A reasonable deductible of $1,000 may be waiver. A $5,000 deductible is probably not going to get waived.

OAS: What gets cleaned and what gets removed?

Ginger: Everything affected. Walls, carpet, furniture, flooring, lamps, decorations. Bio hazard companies will clean everything on site. Hard items like furniture can be cleaned and saved.

Soft items like clothing, wood and cushions probably have to go depending on how long they’ve been sitting there with the bio hazard. Soft materials will soak up odors quickly. Critters, flies and insects start to arrive as the body decomposes. Odors can affect the whole house, that’s why you want to contain the air, if possible, and not blow it around.

Flooring, carpet or tile may also need to be removed. Try to remove only what you have to and save portions of the flooring if that makes sense. It’s okay to save money!

Gingers Last Word of Advice: The sooner you call a provider. Same day is best. Emotionally, remember that you’re not to blame because this happened. This is more important later on, but reactions now stay with you.

Thanks Ginger at BioOne in Jacksonville.

Bio-Hazard Terms Defined

Biohazard –  any type of biological waste or biological agent such as a virus or a condition that constitutes a threat to humans. Biohazards must be eliminated by professionals such as Bio-One Duval County otherwise they can cause serious health effects and continuous exposure, if not properly removed and cleared of any biohazards, can be lead to long term adverse health effects of unknown occupants

Biohazardous agent – a biological agent or condition (as an infectious organism or insecure laboratory procedures) that constitutes a hazard to humans or the environment

Biohazard remediation – cleanup and disinfection of any biohazard situation, including hoarding, commercial or industrial accidents, chemical spills, or contamination scenarios

Biological waste – is any material that contains or has been contaminated by a biohazardous agent

Suicide scene clean up – cleanup of blood, other bodily fluids such as urine, and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM). It is also referred to as biohazard remediation, because crime scenes are only a portion of the situations in which biohazard cleaning is needed

Clean-up operation – when hazardous substances are removed, confined, stabilized, or in any other manner; with the vital goal of making the scene safer for people or the environment

Decontamination – the removal of hazardous substances to avoid or minimize potential dangerous health effects

Facility – any building or structure

Hazardous materials response (HAZMAT) – organized group of trained professionals, who handle and control actual or potential leakages or spills of hazardous substances; quite often requiring being very close to the substance

Infectious agent – something that invades another living thing (like a virus to a human). When an infectious agent “hitches a ride”, the “driver” officially become an infected host. There are four main classes of infectious agents: bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites

Trauma – a deeply disturbing or distressing experience or physical injury



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.

Meet Our Families




They come from all over the USA and we invite you to meet these brave families.