PTSD, Suicide, And Our Military

I'm friends with a lot of military widows. I try to stay involved in the community and I cherish the stories I hear from each of the women I meet. I have met widows who have lost their husbands in so many different ways. In combat like my own story, in accidents at home, in not-accidents here in America, from illness, and from suicide. While we are all spread across the board, it is quite a striking amount who have lost their spouse due to suicide.

To be honest, I don't know how to really jump into this topic. It is not my own story, but it was one I have come in contact with frequently enough to raise alarm. It is one that is becoming far too common in America today. And it is one that needs to be addressed.

Earlier this week on Facebook, I shared a photo of a soldier who had been listed as missing. His family was reaching out via social media to find him. They had listed his last known whereabouts, what he was driving, as well as the fact that he had been suffering from PTSD. They were asking anyone for information and encouraging their community as well as the nation to search for him. A few minutes ago, I was saddened to learn the soldier has since passed on, and according to police it was due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

It weighs heavy on my heart to report that Erik Jorgensen - 26 years old - took his own life on July 19, 2013.

First, I want to offer my most sincere condolences to Erik's family. This is such a hard time they are entering and I pray they have support and love to move through this time.
I also offer my condolences to all of my friends who lost their loved one to suicide.
But here's the thing, condolences, well, they just aren't enough.

It is reported that 20 service members PER DAY commit suicide. In fact, the most recent article I read stated 22 service members per day, equaling 1 service member every 65 minutes, takes their own life. This includes both "new" and "old" veterans. Veterans fresh from war, like Erik Jorgensen and many of my friends' husbands, as well as veterans who have been out of war for years.

Hello America! THIS IS A PROBLEM! It's not only a problem because it is service members (those who are fighting for the very freedoms our nation defines ourselves by) but more generally - people. Something is wrong if any group of people is taking their own lives in such rapidness.

These people are hurting. They are going to war and coming home and they are in pain. And it is our nation's responsibility to take care of them! I have seen first hand only minor effects of PTSD. (And my use of minor does not mean "not scary" or "not serious" it just means I have not seen even close to what so many others have witnessed.)  I have personally seen the pain and hurt.  I have seen lives and persons transformed after coming home. And I am left wondering what I can do? Yet I still see nothing done. This. Is. A. Problem.  And honestly, I wish I had the solution. I really, really wish I could fix this. Ultimately, the ideal solution is no more war. But while we are at a time of war, what can we do?

What can we do to protect those who protect us? I know the first step is awareness. As a nation, we need to be aware that this is an issue and we need to work at the large to bring these numbers down, to protect those who protect us.
I believe another step is acceptance. PTSD and any other mental disruption that may come from seeing/being in war should not be seen as "bad" or "crazy" or "career-threatening." Hell, I'd even go as far as to say it is expected. It is war. If you aren't shaken by it, well that, to me anyway, is the crazy part! We need to let these guys and gals know that they are not abnormal or fucked up for their "issues." We need them to know they can still lead successful lives and be accepted in society and not  shamed because they have been at war! And we need to support them. Help them. Reach out to them. I know so many families of suicide victims were reaching out. But who else was? Is it the families sole responsibility to reach out? Should they have to deal with it alone?! No! It is all of ours. Something has got to give. This is not okay. We should not be standing by while this many people are dying at their own hand from going to places they were sent on behalf of this nation! It is our duty and our responsibility to do something greater.

So I'm starting here with step 1. Awareness. I want you all to know how not-okay this is and I want you to spread the word. I want you to join in a campaign to stop this and to support our veterans, past and present. Support them so they may feel the support and love and so they may know their worth! So they know this life is worth it.

To my veteran friends past and present, you are loved, you are appreciated and you are worth it. If you are feeling that things are unmanageable please, please I urge you to get help, reach out, let us help you. And to my fellow military families and friends, if you know someone is struggling please, please encourage them to get help. This is a battle we must fight together.

Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255
Military One Source Crisis Prevention   1-800-273-TALK (8255)
TAPS 1-800-959-TAPS (8277)


  1. Thanks for sharing. It makes me so mad when people could loose their security clearance, etc for having to deal with the life long effects of going to war. My grandfather was in Vietnam 40 years ago, and to this day still has terrible nightmares where he is still fighting. We really need to stop shaming people for taking care of themselves.

  2. Thank you for bringing attention to this issue, Rachel! We need more advocates like you out there!

    The VA Crisis Line is a great resource. Along with those help lines, I also encourage to call the Defense Centers of Excellence for PH and TBI (DCoE) Outreach Center at 1-866-966-1020 if any service member, veteran, or family member/caregiver is in need of assistance.


  3. I am so in! I'm ready to do whatever we need to in order to protect these men and women we owe so much to. Thank you for being brave enough to bring this to our attention.

  4. Thank you for bringing more awareness to this problem. I am going to share this post on my Facebook page. You're right...the first step is awareness!

  5. I found your blog through some of my ttc friends. I want you to know that I support you in this- a very dear friend of mine lost his life to ptsd suicide and so this is a cause I both care about and fight for. You are brave and strong and RIGHT to post this, the awareness isn't there with the general public!!! Thank you for spreading the word- with every voice that speaks I truly believe fewer servicemen and women will suffer.

  6. I absolutely love that you covered this; you are awesome and I thank you for this post. It is bizarre how much the military community and roles of responsibility for actions seem to be changing but yet, the Marine Corps choose to tighten the belt instead of truly seeking to uncover and resolve issues. It is heartbreaking how many off-hour calls Ken has received in the past year alone of a Marine threatening either his own life or so disturbed that they are willing to take another life alongside theirs'. It is urgent to disperse this topic so that they do not feel they are alone. Love you.

  7. I am a therapist trained in PTSD work. I have yet the chance to use my training because i am not with the VA, i'm in the private sector. I wish there was a way for me to connect with those that are hurting, but i've yet to be plugged in. I take tricare insurance and still nothing. If you find a way to connect those hurting with services, let us know! people like you are good "middle" (wo)men to help connect people with awareness.

  8. Mrs.P this is an awesome post. And it is something that does need to be addressed. The sad fact is that the medical community at the VA did not take the time to start gearing up for this matter until it already became out of control.

    And @Ashley Duea there is a way that you can give back. There is a therapy group that gives free and reduced fee services to families of those suffering from combat PTSD. I believe it is called Give an Hour. But I am not sure. Have not looked it up in a while. You might be able to start there. You can also contact the case/social worker that the nearest VA hospital or clinic near your and tell them that you are willing to help out. That will help them add to their available resources for their clients.

  9. I haven't read your blog in a while because I haven't read any blog in a while ... but I want to thank you for this post. It's heartbreaking and it's what I try to pound into society's head every day. I am the daughter of a service member who chose to end his life 22 years ago. When will our country stand up and SAVE these people?

  10. Hey girl,
    I am a former marine gf,(my bf is out) and although I haven't gone through nearly the amount of heart ache and tragedy as you have, I can relate to some emotions on some level. PTSD hits especially close to home for us and we actually run a dog rescue that helps not only the abused and abandoned dogs in NC but also veterans with PTSD, depression and loneliness. We hope to be able to help save not only a dog's life, but also a veteran, and bring two wonderful, souls on a journey of healing together. We know the struggles that our brave veterans have and we don't ever want them feeling that they are all alone in their struggle. Our rescue dogs are mostly pits and the "unwanted breeds" and have been chained to trees for years, dumped at trailers, abandoned at the side of the road and used as bait dogs. They deserve a second chance at happiness in life, along with our veterans. We are NOT certified therapists ( someone asked us to prescribe medicine one time...sorry, only have dog food here!) but we have a rescue and are ready to help. Our facebook page is Bushel & A Peck Dog Rescue ( you'll see a picture of a black pit bull) and our website should be up and running next week. People can message us on that or email us at We are small, and new, but we have dogs and veterans to help. We have visited our local VFW and have some involvement with them, but we would love to be a resource for other veterans ( and families) that we have not yet reached. Thank you for your blog, your strength and spirit, you are one incredibly woman.


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