What To Expect After a Veteran Suicide

What To Expect After a Veteran Suicide

The Business of Death is Legally Ruthless

In the last six years alone, over 45,000 veterans and active-duty service members have taken their own lives. This shocking statistic is the unfortunate and devastating reality for so many family members and friends to cope with each day. But in many cases of veteran and soldier suicide, the grief and lingering sadness is compounded by unexpected body transportation fees, ruthless funeral home practices and life insurance snags. Here’s our help in what to expect after a Veteran suicide.

Veteran families of soldier suicide often tells us that, after a suicide, the actual suicide becomes the least of their problems. Money and the business of death become their enemy. To help families and loved ones navigate this difficult time, our team at Once a Soldier has created the following guide to cover basic financial and emotional expectations moving forward.

Financial and Emotional Needs Arise

Transportation

If a family is dealing with the suicide of an active duty service member, the first challenge they will face is that of transportation. Transporting a body from state to state or back to the United States from overseas is expensive and often costs range from a minimum of one thousand and up. We have stories from parents that contradict what we’ve found on airline websites and from funeral directors who’ve handled the details. Like everything associated with veteran suicide, expect the worst and hope for the best.

  • You can’t arrange air transportation for a dead body on your own.
  • Most airlines will transport dead bodies but you’ll have to work with a funeral director or a specialized transport company.
  • The shipper must be designated as a “known shipper” by the TSA.
  • Many funeral homes are approved as known shippers.
  • The fee for forwarding remains to another funeral home usually ranges from $1000.00 to $3000.00.
  • The fee for receiving remains from another funeral home usually ranges from $800.00 to $2500.00.
  • You will likely have to pay both of these fees, in addition to any other funeral home costs, BEFORE THE BODY MOVES FROM THE HOLDING FUNERAL HOME.

Funeral Home Expenses

The average funeral costs at least $15,000 for most families affected by veteran and soldier suicide, the VA doesn’t even offer to contribute 10% of that amount, if they offer anything at all. These minimal contributions are known as ‘VA burial allowances,’ and are essentially cash allowances that are paid to an eligible veteran’s family to help defray burial and funeral costs. The VA will pay a different amount depending on whether the death was considered service-connected or not, or if the veteran was hospitalized by the VA at the time of death. Here’s a breakdown of what the VA will provide depending on the circumstances surrounding the death of a soldier or veteran:

Service-Related Death: The maximum service-connected burial allowance is $2,000. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, the VA will reimburse some or all of the cost of transporting the remains.

Nonservice-Related Death: The VA will pay a $300 burial allowance and $796 for a plot.

Unfortunately for many veterans and their families, soldier suicides are not always presumed by the VA to be service-connected, meaning that the affected families are given only a few hundred dollars to help cover thousands of dollars in transportation, funeral and burial expenses.

When a soldier or veteran commits suicide, their families are not only left to deal with the financial aftermath, but they must also cope with the large void that has been left in their hearts. Once A Soldier has created a Facebook group dedicated to veteran families of solider suicide. This is an excellent place to find others who share your story and begin the healing process. Please consider joining to show our strength in numbers, even if you feel you may not want to contribute.

Our team at Once A Soldier has worked with numerous families that have been affected by the tragedy of veteran suicide, so we understand that everyone copes with their losses differently. The real truth is, there is no one right or wrong way to deal with this type of grief, and what works for one person may not work for another. While there probably is no “moving on”, there are a number of ways that you can try to move forward and live in the present as well as for the future. Here are some basic tips to help begin healing:

 

Self Help

Take care of yourself: As hard as it may be, give your body the things it needs: sleep, hydration and food.

Write everything down: Many people find that writing a letter to their lost loved one is beneficial because it allows you to express all the things you were not able to say when they lived. Also, writing down your feelings on a daily basis in a journal or diary can serve as a powerful illustration of your healing process over time.

Find resources and get the support you need. Here are ours:

Talk about your grief and feelings with friends and family: the shock and amount of grief after losing a loved one to suicide is undoubtably overwhelming. It can be helpful to understand that there are some things you can handle on your own and some things you simply can’t. Try to communicate with anyone that you trust, whether it’s a family member, friend, chaplain, military counselor, professional, etc., and you might be surprised how much lighter your burden feels.

Ask for help: Do not be afraid or hesitate to ask the people closest to you for the things you need. This could include help preparing meals, lawn care, getting affairs in order, etc. This could also mean simply asking for space from people’s well-meaning but thoughtless comments. Some days you may want someone to talk to and others you want to be left alone. Both of these are okay. People generally mean well, but if they haven’t experienced your grief, their comments might generally not be well thought-out. Statements like, “at least they aren’t in anymore pain,” for example, might not make you feel better right now. They may not be in pain – but you still are.

Finally, you do not have to experience this loss alone. If you do not have a support system close to you, reach out to support groups, faith communities, mental health professionals and the military community.

Quite possibly the hardest part for many families to cope with is the guilt that stems from losing a soldier. “Why didn’t I see the signs?”, “I should have done more, or reached out more,” and all of those other thoughts can easily creep into your mind as you deal with your loss. Remember: you are NOT responsible. Say that out loud, write it down, whatever it takes – but make sure you understand that you are not to blame for this. The important thing is to take things day by day and know that some days you will be okay and other days will be harder than others.

Life Insurance

Even with a generous life insurance policy in place, there will be steps to complete and decisions to make. Here’s a list of things to keep in mind:

The VA or US Gov’t. doesn’t fly Veteran bodies home.

The airline will hold the body until a ticket and

The funeral home will ask/require you to sign over the policy to their third-party holding company.

The funeral home must get paid first or have iron-clad asurance that they will be paid, before you will be allowed to view the body.

ou do not have to experience this loss alone. If you do not have a support system close to you, reach out to support groups, faith communities, mental health professionals and the military community.

Quite possibly the hardest part for many families to cope with is the guilt that stems from losing a soldier. “Why didn’t I see the signs?”, “I should have done more, or reached out more,” and all of those other thoughts can easily creep into your mind as you deal with your loss. Remember: you are NOT responsible. Say that out loud, write it down, whatever it takes – but make sure you understand that you are not to blame for this. The important thing is to take things day by day and know that some days you will be okay and other days will be harder than others.

Suicide within 2 years of the start of the policy will probably void it. 
Most Vets struggle with satisfying employment after coming home from deployment. The jobs don’t offer the same fulfillment they found with their brothers and many commit suicide within 2 years of coming home. 

Lift the Burden of Veteran Suicide

 

Their families live with PTSD, drug addiction and worse for years, only to find the body at the end. Let’s lift them up and lift off their burden.

 

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.

Bumper Sticker Patriotism Isn’t Helping

Bumper Sticker Patriotism Isn’t Helping

OAS Founder Editorial: Bumper Sticker Patriotism Only Helps the Seller

Lazy patriotism, the kind that thinks that slapping a pro-soldier bumper sticker on your car can substitute for real action, needs to stop. The shiny object strategy that is the whole “Support Our Troops” slogan started under the Bush Administration during Desert Shield/Storm. It has since been the foundation that Sunday morning guests hang their hat on, while at the same time, serving as a pitfall that the American people – and their sons and daughters of soldier suicide and veteran suicide  – fall into like lemmings. The Greatest Generation earned that title through patriotism and the Boomers have trashed it.

During WWII, Americans showed their support for the troops in amazing ways that would never be duplicated today:

  • Housing a returning Veteran
  • Collecting meat fats in metal cans and taking it to your butcher
  • Food and gas rationing
  • Giving blood
  • Buying War Bonds
  • Sharing your car with neighbors
  • The daily/weekly body counts

Can you imagine even one of those things happening today? We have sunk so deep into our couches and Facebook likes that we can’t see how far down our patriotism has fallen. Disagree? Prove me wrong in the comment section below, or better yet, go here and make a difference for our families. 

 

The Cost of Bumper Sticker Patriotism

Forget about the political or economic reason we are sending troops into battle. Forget about the 17 veteran suicides a day that statistics have proven will result. Forget about the 17 veteran families that will be left with a hole in their hearts. Forget about the sub-standard VA care these men and women suffer before they kill themselves. Support our Troops really means support the politicians who – right or wrong – need your vote next election day.

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.

OAS Listed in DoD and VA National Resource Directory (NRD)

OAS Listed in DoD and VA National Resource Directory (NRD)

NRD Connects Us With the DoD and the VA

 

Once a Soldier is now part of the National Directory Resource. The National Resource Directory and the Office of Warrior Care Policy engages with programs for Service Members and Veterans across the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, other U.S. Government agencies, and associated organizations. Our listing can be found here.

“This is a big step forward on a few fronts,” said David Barbush, CEO of Once a Soldier. “First, the uniqueness of our mission’s focus enabled this assignment. Second, we are on a national stage where more families can find us. That brings us great satisfaction.”

Veteran Suicide Families Now Have A Place to Call

The National Resource Directory (NRD) is a resource website that connects wounded warriors, Service Members, Veterans, their families, and caregivers to programs and services that support them.

It provides access to services and resources at the national, state and local levels to support recovery, rehabilitation and community reintegration. Visitors can find information on a variety of topics that supply an abundance of vetted resources.

Once a Soldier got the call from Max Dolan from the Defense Health Agency’s Recovery Coordination Program. Mr. Dolan is part one of a handful of PEER Support Coordinators. He is responsible for Region 9 that covers North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

Most of the NRD deals with Veterans issues for those who are in need of medical and mental health. While we don’t expect the parents and families of Veteran suicide to reach out via the NRD, it brings us closer to our mission accomplished goal of raising awareness about their unmet needs.

 

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.

Veterans Talk About Suicide

Veterans Talk About Suicide

A Glimpse Into Their State of Mind

I must give clear credit to Reddit/veteran subreddit for this content. These aren’t suicide notes, but loud and clear calls for help. We are trying to answer them and we hope you hear them, too.  

What follows are posts with a headline and the full text of their posts. There are plenty of supportive comments and helpful resources found there as well. This post could be 10X as long and it never ends.

Updated 10/29/2019

I See Why

After the last three months I’ve had. It becomes apparent why there are 22 of us a day that commit suicide. I feel completely and utterly defeated. I have called the crisis line in the past and got essentially turned away by behavioral health today.

Damn, why does this have to be so hard?

I hurt so much.

I’ve Had Enough

My landlord just raised my rent by $500.00 a month, so I’m going to be homeless. I have a sick wife(dying). I don’t work, I’m my wife’s care giver and I don’t know what to do! The only thing I can think of is to kill myself, I’m worth more dead than alive, so my wife would be taken care of! I am a disabled combat vet but only rated at 60% do not enough coming in!

Just came here to say thank you all for your support, but I’m checking out! I just need to say I’m sorry I’m weak and can’t take any more of this life! I hope y’all make it, I guess I died in Iraq and my body just doesn’t know it yet, well maybe tonight is the night!

I’ve taken 120 Oxy and I’m drinking a fifth of Fireball and toking out, at least il go out numb…………

I feel like offing myself will eventually be my go to choice

Ever since I got let go from the military I haven’t been able to bounce back. It’s been almost two years now. I use to work 12 hrs day plus weekends while in and hardly complained. Almost like I thrived on it. People would love me for just doing what I was told, just doing my job. And now, just like /u/brokentoy324, I’m also bumming it with my parents just feeling dead inside. It’s like I can’t bounce back from this.

I worry that, no matter what I do, I’ll never be happy. I’ve tried taking road trips, hell I even got on tinder during some of these road trips and hooked up with a few but there’s just no joy in it all. At the end of the day, I’m still me, still dealing with my problems. I could go to school, obtain a degree, get a nice paying job and that won’t change who I am as a person. That miserable, negative old shit that I am will still be there.

I finally got my motorcycle up and running. Lane splitting, weaving in and out of traffic, it should make me feel alive, make me feel good but not having any music and just having all that wind noise, it’s easy to zone out and start thinking negatively again. haha no, I wouldn’t do anything careless as crashing my bike into a wall or something, I’d do it at home with a helium bag that’s the responsible way to go I think.

I say it’s my dogs that are keeping me alive right now. I don’t care much for my family (not married nor have kids). My dad thinks I should have kids and that would all of a sudden fix everything, that’s some pretty fucked up logic which I just don’t want to take a gamble on. I sometimes look at how depressed and sad my dogs are stuck at home sometimes. Imagine your kid wanting you to take him places but you don’t want to tell him your anxiety is too bad to take him anywhere, that sounds horrible.

I ended things with my ex on good terms, she’s a good person. Maybe I could drop the dogs off while she’s at work, leave some extra bags of dog food and leave her some money for being able to take care of the dogs. I’m sure the dogs would be sad not seeing me anymore but I think they’d be a lot happier in an environment that isn’t so negative and depressing.

That’s my problem, I’m just too damn negative. My ex told me my negativity was rubbing off on her and her daughter and it was making her depressed and stressing her out. Which is really sad to hear because they’re the most positive and happy people I know. If they can’t help me, then I dont know what will.

This is more of a vent than anything. I’m seeking care at the VA. I go to the gym ( although I go late when nobody is there), I try to do things, I try to take my dogs to the dog park and try to socialize with other people but I’m just pretty miserable at the end of the day.

If i cant be happy with myself, or if I can’t be comfortable around other people which will make it hard to be myself, then I see myself continuing to live a pretty miserable life and that’s just not something I want to deal with.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you’re running a marathon, and you’re just miserable the entire time, you know you’re not going to win first place, or even 20th place. Some people do 5k’s for fun but you, no everything about it is just miserable, why finish the run? why not just throw in the towel and call it quits now? why endure through all that shittiness when there’s no end in sight? I’m not trying to write the same damn message about the same thing 5, 10, 15 years from now.

Edit: thanks for the kind words everyone. Maybe I will go for a drive today, I don’t live too far from the coast so maybe I’ll take the dogs out there and try to enjoy the day or something.

fear/depression that is not rage.

Thanks for reading I know this is kind of open ended but I am struggling to put my thoughts into words.

Semper Fi

I hit rock bottom.

I found out last Sunday that I had lost yet another brother from my unit. I’m so tired, exhausted, drained from having to mourn some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met over and over and over again. I broke. I never told anyone how many of my brothers I lost but I lost track after 7 or 8.

These were people I would die for. And they wouldve done the same for me. Luckily I sought out my family because I was eyeballing my 9mm really weirdly and they put it in safekeeping and spent the rest of the day hanging out with me. I’m still mourning but I just wanted to say that whether I lose one from combat, suicide, car accident, it doesn’t matter, the pain is the same.

I’m angry that my family will never understand the bond. That not to be rude but I loved them more than anyone in my family. I get frustrated when someone in my house complains to me about work when I get home. I want to punch them in the face sometimes but luckily/unluckily the meds they have me on sedate me enough to not go full rage. Leaving the door open, leaving dishes in the sink, not locking the door at night. Small details that are never paid attention to. Everyone has no structure or honesty.

I’m falling apart.

What’s up. I’ll start out by saying I am not suicidal and I do not harbor any violent thoughts towards other people. I have had a rough couple of years and I think it is all catching up to me. On the outside one would think I have a great life. I have a beautiful family, I don’t have to work unless I want too, I live in a gorgeous part of the US, and I am returning to school at the end of the month. The problem is anger and depression.

In the last 6 years I lost both of my parents to some really random shit. My father died 6 year ago to mesothelioma and I lost my mother last year to CJD (ultra rare brain disease). To add some fuel to the fire my wife is struggling with chronic Lyme disease. I have PTSD and I usually have a pretty solid handle on it. Lately I have been slipping deeper into depression. With depression comes anger. I yell at my kids for kid shit and push my wife away.

I am going to my first VA mental health appointment in 8 years tomorrow and I don’t even know where to start. Last time I did anything with them it was a disaster. I tried prolonged exposure therapy and it just made things worse. My PTSD is not from just one incident. I think it is from the constant state of heightened awareness that comes with a combat deploymen. I think I need a way to cope with the emotional response I have to fear/depression that is not rage.

Thanks for reading I know this is kind of open ended but I am struggling to put my thoughts into words.

Semper Fi

Vets Being Gatekeepers

Since I’ve been out I’ve noticed the first thing a lot of veterans ask when they meet each other is what branch, what was your mos, did you deploy, when did you deploy, etc. And they only use the answers as a way to put themselves above other vets or judge them. A large group seems to be out there that only served to say that they did and to lord it over other people.

A lot of veterans end up killing themselves because they feel like they didnt do anything, they are unfulfilled, they joined for a brotherhood but when they reach out they are met with veterans just claiming they had it harder. And these gatekeeping fucks are the same ones that get huge IGY6 tattoos and buy a bracelet when someone they barely knew dies, posting snapchats of it saying things like “reach out if you need anything brothers,” and long paragraphs talking about how hard their lives were, but not to actually help veterans but to be edgelords hoping girls that turned them down in HS will message them. It’s one if the most disgusting things I’ve ever seen.

Now I also want to say that yes of course veterans who have been forward deployed to a combat zone probably receive the best help from other veterans who have been through the same experience and I’m so happy that these supoort groups exist. But the disgusting culture that seems to be growing is really troubling and I think contributes to more suicides than anything else.

If you’re not like that I’m not talking about you, but I’m sure we all know these guys that basically pray for someone they know to kill themselves so that they can rock a bracelet at bars. To you that are out there, go fuck yourselves, you are worse than any VA failure or a million narcasitic leaders.

I’m not the most articulate guy and maybe I’m just seeing a vocal minority, which makes sense considering those guys are probably the ones that use social media the most and crave the attention. I hope that’s the case.

11 years ago today my baby brother committed suicide after he ETS’d.

the night i told our mom, she told me i was now an only child.

i’m since divorced, unemployed, and transient.

i deal with it day by day.

The VA has only seemed to make it worse.

if i could do anything today i would be with him.

if i can’t be with him, i would like to help someone like him.

just to talk them and to listen to them.

to you.

can you relate? talk with me?

if this is the wrong forum, where might i try?

this isn’t a cry for help; this is an aging veteran looking to talk to another.

thanks.

USArmy Enlisted ’01-’05

How do I stay strong?

I just let all my anger out outside in the middle of a thunderstorm looking like an idiot and Im soaking wet and drunk amd how do yall do it? Im useless. Why is the team I trained downrange right nke while I go to college? Why is my bighest wkrry foguring out where my classes are while soldiers are dying from ymunit. I threw the alcohol away, dont worry. Why was my number not calledm? Why am i considered disabled but peiple who were shot sre rated less than me? Why? Im not getting better. Im going to the va for therapy but i never got shot at. I never depooyed. So why? What are my orders? Where dobi fall in at? Cause this college shit aint working yet i cant even run so I cant join the army again and what the hell do I fmdo? Im not suicidal ya not so dumb bot im airborne. Theres a didfference. One kills ya fast and the other kills ya slowly over tine. Im sorry. That wasnt right. No one understands. How am i the oldest in all my classes? I miss that feeling of exiting a blackhawk or chinook and all the brush and trees just blow away it seems. Then the silence once it leaves. Now it is cslar horns and entitled kids. I used to be fun. I used to be a ok. Now im pathetic. Stay strong l, dont be like me. I rant every month it seems. Va therapy sucks. Feel liek im talking to a cardboard cutout of CSM telling me to reenlist airborne cause of that $.50 bonus. Thank you for your service. I mean it.

My husband called the veteran suicide hotline for me. I feel so defeated right now.

I was having panic attacks back to back ( I have panic disorder). I was medically retired from the AF in March. I planned on taking my terminal leave to reset. That was a mistake. I just really had time to think about what a failure I am. I freaked out. I went to inpatient last May and I don’t know if I should revisit it. My husband called the hotline while I was on the phone with him. He’s active duty and TDY. He called them and told them of i wasn’t able to talk or he felt I was still going to hurt myself, he was calling my friends to come to the house. One to take care of the pets and one to take me to the hospital. I was upset. I don’t have many friends on island. I felt like a huge burden to everyone. It’s hard to see the light when I keep relapsing. My husband deserves better. He’s a great man.

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.

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.

November 2019

My Dearest Dave:

I am sitting with tears in my eyes after reading your updates. Not tears of sadness, but of peace knowing that you and OAS have become part of my life. Words cannot describe how I feel that you have kept Cedrick alive! Your work is so outstanding. I know Cedrick would be so happy with all that you are doing. The work that has been done thru OAS has opened up so much help, understanding, compassion and love for the Vets & grieving families. It is truly amazing.

I am blessed to have you in my life. I still grieve, but you and OAS have taught me so much. I hope that you realize how great your work really is. I am able to function again because of your work. My wish now is to spread the word about OAS. I believe you are truly a blessing and your work has helped so many.

Please send my best regards and thanks to everyone.

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).

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.

We Need Help TODAY

Jamie Brunette

Families Have Their Loved One's Remains Stuck in Airports and Funeral Homes Because They Can't Pay the Bills. Will You?