VA Suicide Report 22104: 65% over age 50

VA Suicide Report 2014:
65 Percent of Veterans over Age 50

(Washington, DC)—On August 3, the VA released Suicide Among Veterans and Other Americans 2001-2014, a comprehensive analysis of veteran suicide rates in the United States in which VA examined more than 55 million veterans’ records from 1979 to 2014.

“While the number of suicides among all veterans is significant, what may not be known is that approximately 65 percent of all veterans who died from suicide in 2014 were 50 years of age or older,” said John Rowan, National President of Vietnam Veterans of America. “Why is it that so many veterans, basically, take their lives by suicide? Last year, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, Public Law 114-2, was enacted to address the high suicide rate amongst the newer veterans but did not specifically address the older veterans. We call on the VA to increase its outreach and education efforts immediately so that the families of all veterans, especially our older veterans, are aware of this risk.”

The VA must overcome all barriers to find the key—if indeed there is one—to preventing suicide in as many instances as possible among our veterans. All Americans must also realize that there is a very serious problem with veteran suicides and act upon it with a coordinated effort in our communities—with our fellow veterans, both young and old; our families; our friends; and with researchers and the agencies of government. As we have repeatedly stated, one veteran suicide is too many. And let’s not fool ourselves with easy answers.”

Since 2001, the rate of suicide among U.S. veterans who use VA services has increased by 8.8 percent, while the rate of suicide among veterans who do not use VA services increased by 38.6 percent. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among male veterans who use VA services increased 11 percent, while the rate of suicide increased 35 percent among male veterans who do not use VA services. In the same time period, the rate of suicide among female veterans who use VA services increased 4.6 percent, while the rate of suicide increased 98 percent among female veterans who do not use VA services. A link to the report may be found here.

Operation Veteran Empowerment

The following is from

Citing the June VetJobs Veteran Employment Situation Report, in May only 160,000 new jobs were created. However a minimum of 250,000 new jobs per month needs to be created to have any real growth.

“Historically, most job growth comes from small businesses, but current government regulations and policies make it difficult for small businesses to grow. As reported extensively in the news, the United States is again having more companies close up than started. This is a phenomenon of the last year.”

Certainly there exist a myriad of offered up reasons as to why job growth
has and remains stalled to include overly burdensome government regulations and policies.

Only about half of all new establishments survive five years or more – only one-third survive 10 years or more. (US SBA Off. Of Advocacy; see also,; As cited by SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet (scheduled speaker at the National Veteran Small Business Engagement, Pittsburgh, Nov.17-19, 2015), “…access to capital is the number one issue facing all small business.”
Simply put there exist direct relationships between small business successes and the creation of quality full time employment opportunities. Small business remains the driving engine for the American economy, providing roughly three-quarters of all new jobs.

As noted by one of VetJobs supporting partners, Operation Veteran Empowerment, a starting point for meaningful change in quality job growth should perhaps be a first look inward – the small business owner and entrepreneur?

In the “real world” of business, it is neither new revenue additions nor support financing (all necessary ingredients for sure) that will create enterprise success. Rather, either the owner has in place, develops, and/or acquires the necessary knowledge for best business practices and financial acumen, adverse consequences will inevitably follow.

Having the requisite knowledge to properly run an enterprise, is much like photography. If you don’t have it and correctly focused all you’ll ever get is a negative

Without that knowledge or acumen in place, all the business development on the planet, even accompany financing, will not evade the eventual problems, costly detours, potholes, and possible discontinuance.

The 2015 studies and statistical data overwhelmingly and in glaring fashion confirm those simple facts. See,

A business owner doesn’t have to turn out the lights to be in the dark!

It really is about wholesale failures to “know what one does not know” and even worse, ignoring/refusing to aggressively seek the knowledge to prevent and remedy those deficiencies . . . [T]here is only one pathway to stop the negative outcomes. Requisite knowledge and financial acumen must be acquired. See, Shunning the Drivers for Adverse Results – It All Starts with the Business Owner,

The more and better knowledge empowered all business owners/ entrepreneurs, the more successful their enterprises. The more and better knowledge equipped the business owner the more quality veteran job growth becomes stimulated – it’s really that simple.

Either the owner has in place, develops, and/or acquires the necessary knowledge for best business practices and financial acumen, adverse consequences will inevitably follow.
* Operation Veteran Empowerment is a veteran created/directed 501 (C)(3) non -profit business educational resource platform – For the first time the entire array of available financial options/tools, how and when to acquire that financing in pragmatic, practical terms, and how it works in the real world of business financing. This “real world” educational resource can not to be found or accessed from any other source in the country (governmental, private, or academic). All education arrays are FREE for all military veterans and their family members (There is a token $5 fee/contribution (100% deductible which ensures that in fact that “Veterans are helping Veterans to Succeed”.) Download and see for yourself.

Arm yourself with knowledge when shopping for an auto loan

Servicemembers should take precautions when entering auto loan agreements. This is the third post for our blog series on auto loans.

Auto Servicemembers Sharegraphic

As a servicemember, you may face challenges when shopping for an auto loan. Frequent moves are a part of military life, but  the urgent need to have a vehicle after moving to a new location – to travel to and from work, bring the kids to school, or simply run errands –  may mean that you don’t have the time to get the best loan to finance your vehicle. You may rely on the lender or auto dealer to explain what your loan terms mean, but they may not clearly explain the extent of the financial obligation you’re taking on.  As a result, you may struggle to repay the loan, especially if the monthly payments are higher than you believed they would be.  Unfortunately, we hear from a lot of military families who didn’t fully realize the high interest, unaffordable terms of their auto loan when they signed the contract.

As part of our efforts to empower consumers to make better financial decisions, we’ve created new resources to help you take control of your auto loan, and help put you in the driver’s seat when negotiating for an auto loan. Our resources could have helped this servicemember who submitted a complaint to us:

“The [company] even knew how much I made as a [soldier]. I will be paying over [XX] when I’m done paying this car. I have a family that I need to support, and this is unfair and unjust. I didn’t know that I was going to pay over [XX] what the vehicle is worth. They never explained the APR percent or how much I’d end up losing, and I feel really taken advantage of. I’ve been [location removed] for over five years. When I return home, I get taken advantage of with no mercy. This always happens simply because I am a [servicemember], and I live near a base, so all these businesses set up and sell their products advertising ‘we do military finance.’ They reel us in like fishes.”

Companies, such as dealerships or other lenders, may offer military rates or discounts to bring you into the showroom, but that doesn’t mean the financing offer is the best one you can get.  We’ve also heard that some companies may inaccurately promise benefits under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to military customers. If you move and need a vehicle right away, your circumstances may mean that you  make a rushed decision and not shop around for the best financing.  The next time you are shopping for a new or used car, take our new Auto Loan Worksheet with you to shop for financing and understand the total cost of the loan. Also, here are three things for servicemembers to know about before signing on the dotted line:

  1. Reductions of interest rate under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. We’ve heard from servicemembers who were led to believe it was okay to sign for a loan with a high interest rate since they were active-duty and therefore, the SCRA would drop the interest rate to 6 percent. Unfortunately, that  is not true. If you take out a loan to buy a vehicle after going on active duty, the SCRA interest rate cap will not apply – that cap is only for pre-service loans. You can find out more about your rights under the SCRA here.
  2. Permission from your lender to take your vehicle overseas. If you think you might be assigned overseas, make sure before you sign the auto loan contract that your lender will allow your vehicle to be taken out of the country – many won’t.  If your lender has that restriction and will not waive it, then you should reconsider borrowing from them.  Shipping companies usually require your lender to write a letter of approval before they will accept your car for overseas shipment. Don’t be left with a big problem at the last minute because the fine print of your loan contract says you can’t take the vehicle with you.
  3. Special military interest rates or discounts. If you’re offered a rate or promotion based on being a member of the military and you decide it’s the best financing for you, make sure you receive that rate in the final paperwork. You shouldn’t agree to anything at signing that you didn’t agree to beforehand. If the company tries to change the loan terms at the last minute, you can refuse to sign the paperwork and continue to shop around for the best auto loan for you.  Remember, interest rates and terms are negotiable until the contract is signed.

If you’re struggling with a high interest auto loan payment, you may be able to refinance your loan for a lower rate by contacting your loan servicer.  If your current loan servicer can’t help you – shop around! Always remember to stay focused on the total cost when shopping. Lower monthly payments for a longer period can cost you thousands of dollars in interest. You can use our new worksheet to keep track of your offers.

Take the first step in financing an auto loan by exploring our resources



Turning any space into a ‘smart home,’ Tripsafe kicks-off its Indiegogo campaign today through August

Today, TripSafe, the startup formed by a team of US military veterans, launches the world’s first truly portable security system on the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo. Their aim is to protect travelers with an affordable, on-the-go security solution that safely secures your possessions while away from home.

“I noticed the door latch had been ripped off the wall of my hotel room and immediately messaged my brother.” said TripSafe CEO, Derek Blumke. “Considering the state of the world today, security is more important than ever and hopefully our product will be seen as a solution that will help people sleep better at night.”

Former U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said of TripSafe that “security is as dominant and dynamic an issue as it has ever been. I’m proud that our military veterans are helping to develop innovative solutions to these continually emerging security challenges.”

TRIPSAFE features:
• Motion and sound sensors
• Two door-wedge alarm sensors that helps to prevent break-ins
• Smartphone alerts
• Audio function for mobile devices
• Video monitoring function via the TripSafe app
• Smoke and gas detection
• A backup charger for your phone
• 24/7 emergency response coordinators

The safe ‘smart travel’ solution, available for pre-sale through August, turns anyone into a connected-traveler, offering safety and monitoring that protects personal belongings when on-the-go.

After experiencing a range of unsafe travel conditions, TripSafe was designed and engineered by Air Force veteran, Derek Blumke (TripSafe CEO), US Army Infantry, James McGuirk (TripSafe CHO), Navy Diver and Bomb Technician, Kathy Borkoski (TripSafe COO), US Marine, Adam Healy (TripSafe CTO).

TripSafe aims to protect your possessions and solve safety concerns for all travelers. Through a range of ‘smart’ features, TripSafe helps to prevent break-ins by keeping unwanted guests away, turning any space into a safe, ‘smart home’.

For more information about TripSafe, please visit

Faces of Combat 2016

The following is posted on behalf of Faces of Combat.

Faces of Combat 2016!

Here at Faces of Combat, we know that many veterans rarely talk to their family or loved ones about their feelings and experiences which often results in a veteran becoming isolated from those who most want to help. So this year, along with our parent non-profit organization, Pine Winds Connections, we will continue our mission of getting this life-saving book out into the veteran community. We know that this book can help those loved ones better understand their veteran just as we know it helps the veteran to realize that he/she is not alone and can learn to live with their experiences.

It’s a new year here at Faces of Combat and we have set some pretty lofty goals. In the past couple of years, we have given out over 2,000 copies of our book to veterans’ organizations, veterans themselves, or to those who love a troubled veteran. This year, we want to reach even more.

We have all seen the movies or read the reports in the media where some veteran has supposedly gone “postal” due to their PTSD. We wish that stereotype would just stop. I have spoken with many, many veterans and, in reality; those with PTSD are more likely to hurt themselves than others. According to the current reports, it is to the tune of 22 per day. Twenty-two veterans per day take their own lives and that is only the number of those who succeed.

Many veterans try for years to hold their demons at bay through a combination of drugs and alcohol and many have ended up in trouble with the law due to this self-medication. Before we throw the key away on these veterans, we want to reach them. Throughout this country, there are now special veterans’ courts. A veteran can choose to go through this system for their non-violent offense and the judge is then able to consider the veteran’s military service and combat experience in relation to their sentencing. Sentencing can even result in inpatient, intensive PTSD treatment. It is these veterans we want to reach in 2016. (Please note that these courts are ONLY for non-violent offenders. The veterans I have spoken with feel that those veterans who use PTSD as their defense for their violent, criminal actions are an affront to the tens of thousands of veterans who suffer from PTSD and only encourage the ridiculous stereotype portrayed by Hollywood.)

For 2016, our first goal is to provide copies of our book to the 160 Veteran Justice Outreach Specialists in the country. This will ensure that each veteran who comes through their program will receive a copy of the book and information on our website. Currently, our website has over 200 free resources for veterans and their families. We hope that each of these veterans will read this book, see themselves in it, and get the help that they need before it’s too late. That’s what happened with me and that’s why I do this today.

Also in 2016, we will be preparing and starting our non-traditional healing classes. Like many of you, I’ve been to the Veteran’s Administration. I’ve taken their pills, still take some. I’ve participated in a number of their therapy programs and I have learned an important thing. Not every program works the same for everyone person. We are all different. We all have different values, belief systems, etc. Everything that makes us unique as an individual is exactly what makes it difficult to find just the right therapy for you. So this year, in our local area, we will be offering healing classes using expressive writing, meditation and shamanistic rituals. We hope that by next year, we will be able to offer some of these programs across the country.

Speaking of “across the country”, the first week of April starts my annual Faces of Combat road trip sharing our programs along the I-90 corridor. Last year, I was accompanied east by one set of grandchildren and west by the other set. We had quite a time! If you are a veteran group and you are along the I-90 corridor, I’d be happy to stop in, drop off some books and discuss what we are all about! (Just as an FYI, this trip is fully-funded by me, not our organization. They only provide the books.)

2016 is going to be exciting! If you like what we are doing, visit the “Get Involved” page on our website and join us!

Lori Barnes
Faces of Combat