June 1, 2020, Houston, TX -- In June the U.S.A. focuses on the severity of PTSD among surviving Veterans and First Responders, a cause crying for intervention throughout the year. PTSD, the root cause of most Veteran suicides, is oft considered the deadliest wound of war.
Within an hour, a Veteran will have taken his life. While we have slept comfortably in our beds, worked an 8-hour shift, safely returned home, eaten dinner with our families, and gone back to bed again, 22 Veterans will have committed suicide.
One suicide is too many. It is heartbreaking to realize more than 22 of our bravest public servants take that final desperate step every day. Probably far more. Only 22 of the 50 states report them, so by extension there could actually be up to 50 per day.
Veteran Suicide Pandemic
Suicide is pandemic among Veterans over 55. They hold the highest suicide rate among all Servicemen, higher than those returning from active duty in Iraq, Afghanistan or who were called to serve and protect the freedoms Americans hold so dear.
In fact, while there are 58,195 names on the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, DC, there have been more than 210,000 reported Vietnam Veteran suicides since shooting ceased. Of these, an estimated 90% to 95% result from PTSD. Already there have also been more suicides than casualties from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Increasing the dismal statistics for those serving Americans sacrificially, PTSD suicides of First Responders are also alarming. This includes police, firemen, emergency room and EMS personnel. Unfortunately, there is no statistical data, but First Responder suicides are estimated at 10%-20% higher than in the general population.
For every Veteran or First Responder who suffers from PTSD, a minimum of five family members are affected. In fact, if PTSD goes untreated, those close to the veteran or first responder will more than likely be diagnosed with secondary PTSD. . . or worse.
Although secondary PTSD is not caused by trauma, it is caused by being a caregiver for someone who suffers from PTSD due to the enormous responsibilities and the helplessness a caregiver feels, day after day. This is someone they dearly love, and it’s heartbreaking.
But flashbacks, anxiety, anger and other volatile, post-traumatic responses can also result in assault and battery -- verbally, physically and emotionally -- which can cause primary PTSD for spouses, PTSD in children, and/or other Childhood Adverse Experiences (ACE’s). Relationships, families and individual lives can be destroyed without intervention.
In fact, many in the military experienced their own ACE traumas as children, complicating their military PTSD condition. They need loving, understanding and competent help! They are not isolated in this world, even if they try, because their experiences will impact all those around them.
Gene Birdwell’s Mission Of Hope And Help
“We are here to stop the pandemic rate of our Soldiers’ and First Responders’ suicides, and we need your help,” said Gene Birdwell, Founder of the Birdwell Foundation for PTSD.”
“No one heals alone. We are asking you to join our effort to stop the PTSD tragedy by calling us today if you or someone you know suffers with PTSD.”
“As a Vietnam Veteran (U.S. Navy), I have been given a new combat mission in life. The Birdwell Foundation has afforded me a most honorable and distinguished opportunity to serve Veterans (Korean War through GWOT) with PTSD issues and other needs. I accept this mission with the same drive, dedication, and integrity as I did as Tank Company Commander, 2nd ID, South Korea and as Battalion Operations Officer, 1st Cavalry Division, Ft. Hood, Texas,” promises Birdwell.
Other Birdwell Foundation Leaders Speak Out
The key to the extraordinary success of The Birdwell Foundation is its unique approach: peer-to-peer mentorship by other Veterans and First Responders who found their way out of the darkness of PTSD. Sufferers can relate more readily with someone who suffered some of the same life difficulties and traumas.
“The Cartersville, Georgia, PTSD Group effort, is in fact, having a profound and most positive effect on Veterans and family members,” reports Gary S. Conley, Major, Armor United States Army (retired).
“Several years ago, after contemplating suicide and being led out of the darkness of PTSD personally by the Birdwell Foundation, I dedicated my entire life to the Birdwell Foundation mission of eradicating PTSD related suicide,” asserts Roger Marshall Jr., Combat Veteran and National Director of Operations/Outreach, Birdwell Foundation.
Get Informed & Get Involved
For more information, go to www.birdwellfoundation.org.
Tom Clutts, Executive Director