Monday, February 19, 2007

Told to wait, a Marine dies

Comment: I encourage anyone who is ashamed or fed up with the lack of services to get in touch with local support groups and contribute to the cause. Volunteer, donate, and/or get politically involved. Note: We are now seeing Iraq homeless veterans. If our country is going to continue with war after war then we must support our soldiers when they get home!


Told to wait, a Marine dies

VA care in spotlight after Iraq war veteran's suicide
By Charles M. Sennott, Globe Staff | February 11, 2007

...On the morning of Jan. 11, Jonathan, an Iraq war veteran with two Purple Hearts, neatly packed his US Marine Corps duffel bag with his sharply creased clothes, a framed photo of his new baby girl, and a leather-bound Bible and headed out from the family farm for a 75-mile drive to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minn.

...he confessed to an intake counselor that he was suicidal. He wanted to be admitted to a psychiatric ward.

But, instead, he was told that the clinician who prescreened cases like his was unavailable. Go home and wait for a phone call tomorrow...

When a clinical social worker called the next day, Jonathan, 25, told again of his suicidal thoughts and other symptoms. And then, with his stepmother listening in, he learned that he was 26th on the waiting list for one of the 12 beds in the center's ward for post-traumatic stress disorder sufferers.

Four days later, on Jan. 16, he wrapped a household extension cord around his neck, tied it to a beam in the basement, and hanged himself.

"What we need is more public awareness and more of the public doing things to help veterans," said Perna. "If you see veteran housing, go in and give them a donation. Give them clothing. Help them yourself. The politicians are not going to do it. The VA is not going to do it. We have to do it ourselves."

"There will be 200,000 veterans tomorrow who are homeless and 200,000 the next night. They are homeless largely because they served their country in time of war."

Fulkerson said homeless veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, mental illness and substance abuse. About half are Vietnam veterans.

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