$2,000 And A Thank You Note Is Not Enough

$2,000 And A Thank You Note Is Not Enough

John Rutherford & Once A Soldier Discuss Postvention & Veteran Suicide

On Sunday, October 25th, Once A Soldier hosted an outdoor, socially-distanced speakers forum in St. Augustine called, “Positive Progress” featuring Representative John Rutherford.

The impressive event included in-depth conversations with Once A Soldier Founder, Dave Barbush, board members, Stefanie Stark, and Kevin Jonhs, as well as Dr. Satyen Madkaiker. Each of these speakers touched on the importance of postvention, prioritizing treatment for PTSD, and providing additional funding for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.

Congressman John Rutherford Speaking at Positive Progress Event

Well-Rounded Discussion Included Father Who Lost A Son To PTSD Veteran Suicide

The event began with moving speeches from our Founder, Dave Barbush, as well as Board President, Stefanie Stark. They both took the time to thank all in attendance, and spoke about why the mission of Once A Soldier is close to their hearts, and how the growth of Once A Soldier has helped numerous veteran families across the nation. 

After our leadership team finished speaking, the guests were treated to an informational speech by Board Certified Psychiatrist, Dr. Satyen Madkaiker. Dr. Madkaiker has had a private practice in Jacksonville since 2003, and has dedicated his career to treating individuals with psychiatric disorders and substance abuse issues. He has emphasized the importance of correctly diagnosing patients, and the use of medications and therapies that are tailor-made for each patient.  Dr. Madkaiker spoke about his extensive experience with evidence-based patient care, medication management, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and Ketamine Infusion Therapy, and how these treatments can help soldiers and veterans with PTSD.

Following Dr. Madkaiker, Board Member and recipient of one of our first Silver Linings grants, Kevin Johns gave a touching speech about the tragic loss of his son, Jared, to veteran suicide. Kevin spoke eloquently about his son’s life, his military service, and the love he had for his family. He also took the time to speak about the positive impact that Once A Soldier had in his family’s time of immense grief, and the positivity that Once A Soldier continues to bring to his life. 

Finally, as the event concluded, Representative John Rutherford gave an impressive speech detailing his support for our active service members and veterans over his time in office. He also acknowledged that there is still so much more that needs to be done to prevent and treat PTSD. As he continued, Representative Rutherford even reiterated the point that was made repeatedly throughout the evening, that “$2,000 and a Thank You note is not enough” to alleviate the very real mental and emotional scars that are so often the result of active combat. 

This event was a huge success, and Once A Soldier would like to thank everyone who was able to attend. To help Once A Soldier continue to help the families of veterans and soldiers who have committed suicide, consider donating to our organizaiton today! 

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.

Equine Therapy Is Off and Running

Equine Therapy Is Off and Running

From Addiction to PTSD, Horses Whisper to Our Veterans

My eyes were opened to equine therapy in an isolated spot out near Augusta, Georgia. With a dusty, red clay road going in and bordered by tall Southern pines, the recovery center was truly an oasis. If you didn’t know it, you’d never guess that there was a stable and a small corral fill with big, beautiful horses.

In that backwoods locale, recovering drug addicts gladly walk a mile and a half to work with their therapy horses every day. For these men and women, their time with the horses was a walk on the clouds compared to an addicted life. Guiding both human and horse was an equine therapist named Roy. Roy was able to use the way of the horse to get at some very human emotions and issues and go from there. I’ve seen it firsthand: horse therapy works.

Horses and humans enjoy a special history, and this new chapter propels the healing power of nature for our Veterans and their families with PTSD and depression. HorsePlay in St. Augustine is that next chapter. We are overjoyed as we invite our local Veteran families to this special place.

 

hippotherapy Once a Soldier

A Miracle on Four Legs

HorsePlay St. Augustine Helps Fight PTSD and Depression

The charm of HorsePlay, a hippotherapy nonprofit in St. Augustine, Florida, comes when you meet the horses. Rebel, Captain, Brave, Lizzy and Stony all have their own story that reflect ones we all have. They put that aside because their job is to help kids with autism find a happy heart while on top of a horse.

The key to why horses are able to help anyone with mental illness lies in their command of respect and their instant feedback communication. Horses need a stable, calm leader to do their thing. Vetearns and their families know that feeling, especially those with PTSD.

MORE ABOUT HIPPOTHERAPY

Hippotherapy is physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech/language therapy that uses equine movement as a treatment strategy. The movement of the horse influences the client, and the client actively responds to the movement. The therapist directs the movement of the horse, analyzes the patient’s response, and adjusts the treatment accordingly.  The movement of the horse creates a combination of sensory, motor, and neurological input.   This effective strategy is integrated into the treatment plan to help each patient reach their goals. 

ABOUT PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that develops in some people who have experienced a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is natural to feel afraid during and after a traumatic situation. Fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to help defend against danger or to avoid it.

ABOUT AUTISM

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.

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.

When Is It My Turn?

When Is It My Turn?

Suicide Ideation Fueled By Stories of Veteran Suicides

Melissa Gonzalez is a Veteran. Her friends are Veterans. She keeps tabs on those she served with. The network of communication may be slow. It may be two or three parties removed. But when Melissa hears of another suicide of someone she knew, she thinks to herself “when is it my turn?”

PTSD, depression, mental health issues don’t rest. They don’t get tired. They don’t care who you are because they are you. Millions fight this battle but for our nation’s Veterans, the source is service overseas in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. Family members notice the change the day the Veteran comes home. They fall on black days and Michelle has seen enough of her fellow Vets taking their own lives. She wonders if she too will have enough one day.

once a soldier charity

They Were Willing to Die For Our Country. They Didn’t. They Still Might.

We find outselves in late 2020 with a new world under our feet. COVID-19 is taking its toll on all of us. It’s raking in more tolls on the backs of our Veterans. There has been a 20% in death by suicide for Veteran during the pandemic. We’ve seen it and felt it. The Veteran nation does, too. We worry for Melissa. Her number may be up. And is may be her choice because she feels it’s her turn. 

SUICIDE IDEATION – MORE INFORMATION

Suicidal ideation (or suicidal thoughts) is thinking about, considering, or planning suicide. It is not a diagnosis for the DSM-5, but is rather a symptom of many mental disorders.

On suicide risk scales, the range of suicidal ideation varies from fleeting thoughts to detailed planning. Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not go on to make suicide attempts, but suicidal thoughts are considered a risk factor. During 2008–09, an estimated 8.3 million adults aged 18 and over in the United States, or 3.7% of the adult U.S. population, reported having suicidal thoughts in the previous year. An estimated 2.2 million in the U.S. reported having made suicide plans in 2014. Suicidal thoughts are also common among teenagers.

Suicidal ideation is generally associated with depression and other mood disorders; however, it seems to have associations with many other mental disorders, life events, and family events, all of which may increase the risk of suicidal ideation. There are a number of treatment options for those experiencing suicidal ideation. Find them here where we sourced this information.

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.

More Light Shed on Unaccounted Veteran Suicides

More Light Shed on Unaccounted Veteran Suicides

Research Collected By Operation Deep Dive Reveals Unaccounted Cases of Suicide

Operation Deep Dive (OpDD), is a community-based veteran suicide prevention study taking place in 14 states across the country. America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP) and researchers from the University of Alabama are leading this four-year study with a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Operation Deep Dive will conclude in December 2021. 

The bulk of the research involves AWP interviewing families and friends of Veteran suicide to better understand the lifestyle and habits of a Veteran in the last two years leading up to their death. If you or someone you know meets the requirement listed below, please contact:

Krystal Garcia

Program Associate

Email: kgarcia@americaswarriorpartnership.org

Call: 706-386-2431

Interviews Conducted In 14 States

The Real Picture of Veteran Suicide is Still Coming Into Focus

Early data has shown that some Veteran suicides are not being recorded. In Florida, state death certificates from 2014 to 2018 with DOD-verified service records reveals that 153 former service members who died by suicide were unaccounted in official records. This same comparison revealed 68 unaccounted cases of suicide in Minnesota during the same period. While comparisons from the remaining 12 states in the study are in progress, the analysis completed within these states is indicative of a more comprehensive gap under-representing the reality of veteran suicide.

HOW CAN YOU HELP?

By participating in an Operation Deep Dive interview that aims to investigate the lives of veterans lost to suicide or a non-natural cause of death (overdose, asphyxiation, accidental gunshot, drowning, suicide by law enforcement, or high-speed, single-driver accident) within the last 24 months.

WHAT IS THE GOAL?

The goal is to examine how the deceased veteran was engaged within the community and how the community can better support our veterans in the future.

Your insight will contribute greatly to the formation of a proactive approach to preserving the life of service members and veterans!

PARTICIPANT REQUIREMENTS: 

Must be 18​ or older

A relative, loved one, friend, or co-worker to a deceased veteran who has died by suicide or from non-natural causes within the last 24 months

Located within one of the states listed below

Participant and veteran must have lived in the same community (metropolitan statistical area) prior to the veteran’s death

CONTACT OpDD

If you would like to get additional information about being a participant, please contact

Krystal Garcia

Program Associate

Email: kgarcia@americaswarriorpartnership.org

Call: 706-386-2431

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.

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. 

 

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.

Meet Our Families

 

 

 

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