Veterans Avoiding Incarceration and Suicide

There are two statistics that every veteran strives to avoid—four actually but these two in particular.

Top four groups veterans do not want to join are the ranks of the:

1 - Unemployed

2- Homeless

3- Incarcerated

4- Suicide

Side-by-side video comparison showing the difference between depression and sadness—courtesy of The Mighty

For some veterans with major depression, anxiety, trauma and a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), this can be a nearly insurmountable task.

Overcoming the latter two challenges takes hard work and a team approach. I talk about my struggles in my upcoming memoir—4-Hours to Live: Memoir of a Female Soldier. Read an excerpt from 4-Hours to Live.

There are 181,500 incarcerated veterans

More than 181,000 veterans are in prison in the United States, 47% of which report a mental illness, according to a 2012 report by the Bureau of Justice.

However, of this group, 68% were honorably discharged from the military like me.

Somewhere between being discharged from the military and incarceration 47% of these veterans fell between the health care cracks. I could have easily become part of this statistic had I not overcome PTSD.

The second veteran statistic that I narrowly avoided is the 24 U.S. veterans per day who commit suicide, according to the Veterans Administration.

The important takeaway here is that I received the help that I needed, I worked hard to recover, and I have found my way on the other side of trauma into a state of peace and happiness.

Surviving Trauma, PTSD and creating your new normal

I wanted to write 4-Hours to Live Memoir of a Female Soldier for two reasons. According to a Gallup poll, 26% of Americans are veterans, with 24% male and 2% female. Of the 26% of Americans with military experience, only 15% of the veterans are under age 75.

As a result, the majority of the U.S. population have no military experience and many of us veterans find it too difficult to share our stories.

This leaves the public with a view of what life is like after military service that is told mostly by people who have not served.

The second reason that I want to share my story is this. Although not everyone who has served in the military will experience a mood disorder or be diagnosed with PTSD, I wanted to offer the friends and family of veterans and others who have suffered a trauma a raw look into what it is like to experience depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, on behalf of all of the people who are finding it too difficult to share their own personal struggles with these issues.

My experience with trauma is unique to me. Not everyone will be triggered in the same way or react as I have in similar situations, but my hope is that it will help people to understand what it is like to have a mood disorder, how my trauma occurred, and what efforts I have taken, along with my health care team, family, and a small group of friends to save my life and to create my new normal.

I want to hear from you caregivers and loved ones of a person struggling with mental illness, PTSD, or recovering from a physical or emotional trauma. I especially want to hear from anyone who has found their way to their own recovery—and new normal. This is a safe community in which to share your story so leave a comment.

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