Monday, August 08, 2011

Veterans suicides, Iraqi Christians

The US military now tracks suicides of those serving. Each month, the Army releases their data. And while this gives the appearance that something's being done to address the crisis, veterans suicides are not being tracked by the government (or that's the government's claim). Sharon Jayson (USA Today) reports the University of Utah's National Center for Veterans' Studies is presented findings Thursday at the American Psychological Association convention in DC. The National Center for Veterans' Studies will be highlighting a higher suicide attempt rate among college students with military service -- six times higher -- than students who had not. Brian Maffly (Salt Lake Tribune) adds, "In a new study led by the University of Utah’s National Center for Veterans Studies (NCVS), researchers found that 46 percent of those responding to a survey reported some suicidal thinking, while 10 percent planned suicide and 7.7 percent attempted it. Eighty-two percent of those who attempted suicide experienced post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD." Wendy Rigby (San Antonio's KENS 5 -- link has video and text) reports on the issue andspeaks with Dr. Craig Bryan of the UT Health Science Center who states, "The initial reaction was just shock and we were quite alarmed actually. The transition for many is much more difficult than what we often assume it would be. It's just a very different lifestyle. It's a very different lifestyle and as we all know it's just stressful to make those types of changes in life in general."

Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Last week her office issued the following news release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office

Wednesday, August 3, 2011 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS SUICIDES: Senators Call on Nation’s Governors to Begin Reporting Veterans Suicides to the VA in Order to Accurately Track National Crisis, Improve Prevention Efforts

Letter focuses on the need for 41 states that do not currently communicate information about veterans suicides to begin tracking and reporting

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, has joined with Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Robert Casey (D-PA) to call on state Governors to begin reporting critical statistics on suicides among military veterans in their states. The effort, which comes amid a steadily rising suicide rate among veterans and members of the military, focuses on pushing 41 states to create a direct link to the VA to communicate information about veteran suicides. That information is particularly important for tracking and prevention efforts as many suicides among veterans not enrolled in the VA often go unrecorded.

“One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals,” the Senators wrote. “In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care.”

In addition to the National Governors Association the letter sent by the Senators also went to the National Association of Medical Examiners, which is the professional organization for medical examiners and death investigators who are responsible for investigating deaths that are violent, suspicious, or otherwise unusual.

The full text of the Senators’ letter is below:

July 20, 2011

The Honorable Dave Heineman

Chair, National Governors Association

444 North Capitol Street

Suite 267

Washington, DC 20001-1512

Dear Governor Heineman:

As you know, there has been a disturbing rise in suicide rates among veterans and members of the military. We are sure you find this trend as troubling as we do. As we continue our work to provide all the needed resources and services to assist servicemembers and veterans with mental health concerns, we ask for your assistance in this effort.

One of the most significant obstacles to understanding veteran suicide is the lack of information available regarding these individuals. In many cases the Department of Veterans Affairs does not even know that a veteran has died if that individual was not enrolled in VA health care. This makes it very difficult for researchers and mental health professionals to study the information and design effective, targeted campaigns to prevent suicide.

This is a result of the fact that only 16 states provide information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System. VA has also been working with the states to create a direct link between the states and VA to communicate information about veteran suicide, but so far only nine states have reached such an agreement with the Department.

We understand that many states have efforts underway to address this problem. It is important to ensure that these efforts are completed quickly. Further, with respect to the states which have not yet begun such efforts, we must encourage those governors to see that their states begin working with VA to reach an agreement and provide this information directly to the Department. As you know, these arrangements will be very beneficial as they will allow VA to utilize the timeliest data to improve the efficacy of suicide prevention efforts.

Thank you for your assistance, we look forward to working with you on behalf of the nation’s veterans.


Patty Murray John D. Rockefeller IV

Chairman Senator

Robert Casey Max Baucus

Senator Senator



Eli Zupnick

Press Secretary

U.S. Senator Patty Murray


Turning to Iraq where the Iraqi Christian community has suffered throughout the ongoing war and who now make up a higher percentage of the refugee population than of the in-country population. Aswat al Iraq reports yesterday was a day of commemoration for many "Iraqi Christians, including Chaldo-Sirians and Assyrians" to remember the Summail Massacre 78 years ago, a genocide in Mosul and Dohuk. During the Iraq War, there have been numerous waves of violence targeting Iraqi Christians including last week's bombing attack on a church in Kirkuk.

From Aid to the Church in Need, this is Eva-Maria Kolmann's "Iraq: Archbishop of Mossul demands more security from the Iraqi government:"

After the latest attack on a Syrian-Catholic church in Kirkuk, the Syrian-Catholic Archbishop, Yohanna Petros Mouche, has asked the Iraqi government to guarantee better security in the country. In an interview with the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need he explained that such a terrorist attack was only possible due to inadequate security. The local government is “weak and unable to assure security and stability in the region”. He accused the rulers of being enmeshed in their own divisiveness, interested only in safeguarding their own positions and maintaining their share of the nation’s wealth.
Speaking about the alleged terrorist he explained, that he was “perhaps an Iraqi by passport, but certainly not in his heart, because a true Iraqi does not eat the flesh of his brother”. He called on Iraqi religious leaders to “strongly denounce the repulsive crime, which damages the reputation of Islam and the dignity of Iraq”.
The Archbishop went on to point out “I hope that all what is happening in Iraq today, will only serve to consolidate the firmness of faith of our Christians and their solidarity with one another” and added. “No matter how big the evil may be, it can’t shake faithful hearts. Brave souls stay firm”.
In a car bomb attack on the Syrian-Catholic church of the Holy Family in the city centre of Kirkuk in the early morning of August 2nd, twenty persons were injured and the structure of the church was badly damaged. The attack took place on the second day of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting.
Last year, “Aid to Church in Need” supported projects in the Iraq with over $780,000.
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The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, Aid to the Church in Need’s Child’s Bible – God Speaks to his Children has been translated into 162 languages and 48 million copies have been distributed all over the world.
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Kat's "Kat's Korner: Middle-Aged Men, not boys" went up yesterday as did Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Failed Match Up." Law and Disorder Radio begins airing this morning on WBAI at 9:00 am and all around the country throughout the week. Attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) host the program and, this week, put the weekly developments discussion (one of my favorite parts of the program) because they've got so many guests today. Chief among the guests, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark discussing the illegal Libyan War. NLG attorneys Larry Hildes and Devin Theriot-Orr are featured in a segment on activism and online privacy. And Rami El-Amine and Mostafa Henaway discuss the groundwork laid for the revolution in Egypt.

We'll close with this from Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey's "Libya and Universal Human Rights" (Pravda via Information Clearing House):

Humanity is at a crossroads in Libya. It has been coming for a long time and in Libya, it has arrived. Finally, the greyish mists which have been clouding our skies have lifted and what is happening is crystal clear...and humankind has a decision to make, and fast. The situation demands not voyeurism and comments, but action. Now!
Where NATO was and is, now becomes apparent. It was originally a defensive organization, fuelled by a collective fear of the Soviet Union (whose armed forces were essentially defensive). NATO then ran out of steam, and lost its reason to be, in the early 1990s, when the USSR entered into voluntary dissolution (not "collapse") and after the Warsaw Pact was voluntarily dissolved. After all, what justification did a "defensive" organism have to exist after its "enemy" was no more?
It didn't take long for corporatism to supplant market economy capitalism, the same time it took the new NATO to supplant the old. The tried and tested Socialist model had proved its worth, bringing societies into the front line of development, through excellent programs of education and free public services. Its job done, its societies decided to try out the new market economy model. What happened?
In ten years, the freedom to own your own business, the street corner merchant, the butcher, the baker, the market stall-holder have become, by and large, an anachronism. Where is your greengrocer, where is your butcher, where is your baker, where is your grocer, where is your fishmonger?
The answer is: the big space has destroyed them and the communities they served. Out went the human touch. And as far as NATO is concerned, out went human values, because exactly the same thing happened at a higher and more sinister level.
Those of us who covered the Iraq war knew by 2003 that NATO had already deployed Depleted Uranium (war crime) in Kosovo and in Iraq, causing the death or mutilation of hundreds of thousands of children. Those of us who covered the Iraq war were also privy to NATO's tissues of lies.

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