SUICIDE PREVENTION STRATEGIES SHOULD START WITH ENSURING BRAIN-WOUND HEALING
The following letter was delivered to the White House during the Burn Pit Legislation-signing ceremony. A similar letter was hand-delivered to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Denis McDonough, and is being delivered to the Secretary of Defense, GEN Lloyd J. Austin III.
The challenge for the entire US Government, and medicine in general, is to expand the out-dated “standards of care” for brain wounds. That includes recognizing and properly diagnosing those brain wounds. We must teach and act on what science has demonstrated: mental health and wellness depend on a healthy brain. War and combat, accidents, contact sports, assaults, falls, strokes, substance abuse, and a myriad of insults to the brain can cause brain wounds. Unsurprisingly, the suicide epidemic in the military and among veterans and the general population is going up. We tried the “Just Say ‘NO!'” strategy once. Science showed that public service announcements are not the best way to prevent drug abuse, much less suicides.
We are calling on the President, the Congress, VA, DoD, and medicine to do root-cause analysis and start using scientifically proven inteventions to heal brain wounds and put the wounded on the road to health, readiness, and life-recovery.
Mr. President and Dr. Biden:
All Holidays allow us to reflect on the past, to remember, and to give thanks for our blessings, for the ultimate sacrifice our service members and loved ones gave in defense of our Republic.
You have an opportunity to affect every Memorial Day going forward. For over fifteen years, 7,300 service members a year have died by suicide. Too many of those deaths were the result of undiagnosed and untreated brain wounds. And it hits women service members particularly hard.
By all accounts, your visits to the sites of service member graves and heart-wrenching tragedies renews your instincts to find bi-partisan approaches to arrest and reverse the growing suicide and opioid epidemic trends.
It is gut-wrenching but illuminating to view our service members’ sacrifices and on-going effects of “invisible wounds.” In twenty years of combat in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other war-torn countries since 9/11, over 877,450 service members have been brain wounded. Over 8,000 have died in combat. Over 109,000 have succumbed to suicide, and a similar number to opioid overdoses.
Unlike highly partisan and highly intractable voter and legislator disagreements, you have the power with Veterans to once again offer more than thoughts and prayers. You can act boldly, immediately, Presidentially. As with your leadership on Burn Pits, naysayers and obstructionists and bureaucrats have taken a back seat on “presumptives” as Veterans and legislators recognize the truth of the evidence. We want the same truth of evidence brought forward on the mTBI Veterans.
Unlike with Burn Pit toxins, however, science has provided a treatment for brain wounds. Not all Burn Pit victims have been issued a death sentence like SFC Heath Robinson and SSGT Wesley Black. Over 21,000 success stories (TreatNOW.org) and over twenty peer-reviewed worldwide scientific studies, including the VA/DOD/Army’s own data, attest to the safety, efficacy, and power of using Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) and alternative therapies to help heal brain wounds and restore quality and normalcy to lives. The science and evidence is compelling and irrefutable.
Partisanship tends not to be an issue where Veterans are concerned. Rather, distractions and seemingly more pressing issues intrude. COVID, Ukraine, inflation, and climate change push a stark fact to the side. The service member suicide and opioid epidemics have already cost over 200,000 Veterans lives. Each death has a negative ripple effect and indelible negative effect on nine other lives. The current economic societal cost is estimated at $118.1 billion annually, or $4.7 trillion over the 40-year Veteran lifespan. We have demonstrated we as a nation can treat and heal those wounded for 1/2 of one percent of the lifetime cost for all 877,450 brain wounded Veterans.
Proposed legislation has garnered bipartisan support in Bills that unfortunately languish in Committee. But there is hope. Scientific evidence revealed at last month’s Undersea & Hyperbaric Medical Society Conference reinforced the worldwide acceptance of HBOT as a brain wound healing treatment. The Department of Veterans Affairs, not for the first time, is late to the scientific evidence, as they have been too many times in the past.
Mr. President and Dr. Biden, in the name of those who have untreated brain wounds, please treat the service member suicide epidemic with the same intensity as you have Burn Pits. And in the name of the families who suffer deaths of their family members from the epidemics of suicide and prescribed drug ovedoses, use your authority to spur Action for at least an Emergency Use Authorization for HBOT-for-mTBI/PTSD/ Concussions.
Each and every Veteran and service member is legally, medically and ethically entitled to “Informed Consent” This doctrine of informed consent seeks to ensure that doctors: tell patients of their diagnosis; those patients understand the nature and purpose of recommended interventions; and, most importantly, that patients are made aware of the burdens, risks and expected benefits of all options. [Code of Medical Ethics Opinion 2.1.1]” Mr. President and Dr. Biden, you can demand that the DoD and the VA inform service members that a safe, effective, and cost efficient treatment is available in hundreds of clinics and over 1,157 hospitals across the US. And for those hundreds of thousands of Veterans and millions of Americans who have never been told that they don’t have to settle for a “new normal” life of degraded quality, allow insured coverage for brain wounds.
The TreatNOW Coalition is veterans and others working pro bono to stop the suicide epidemic and change the standard of care for brain wounds. We stand ready to assist you in helping the DoD and VA be the best they can possibly be.
The TreatNOW Coalition
(Veteran) The Honorable Patt Maney, BG, USAR (ret.)
Daphne Denham, MD
(Veteran) James K. Wright, MD Colonel USAF, (ret.)
(Veteran) Dr. Eddie Zant, MD
Robert Mozayeni, MD, Director, Translational Medicine Group
Paul G. Harch, MD
Dr. Carol Henricks, MD
Samuel Shor, MD, FACP
(Veteran) Tom Fox, MAS, MS, CHT
(Veteran) James L. Bauerle, Brigadier General, US Army, (ret.)
(Veteran) Ben Richards, Major, US Army, (ret.)
(Veteran) Robert Schmidt, Chairman/CEO, Great American Broadband, Inc.; and Executive Director, Pro Football Retired Players Assc.
Michael BEAR Clair, Prof. Musician, former Wrestler, survivor
(Veteran) Eric W. Koleda, Founder and Director, Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment for Kentucky Veterans
(Veteran) James S. Hooker (CDR, USN, ret.)
(Veteran) William W. Collins, Co-founder and Director, Marines Helping Heroes Foundation
Ms. Patti Brady, KOTERRA
Wes Irvin, Survivor
Christine C. de Fontenay, Computer Programming Instruction
(Veteran) Stephen D. Reimers, P.E., HBOT Pioneer
(Veteran) William Duncan, Ph.D., Director of Patriot Clinic, OK
(Veteran) Robert L. Beckman, Ph.D., Chief Knowledge Officer, Foundation for the Study of Inflammatory Disease
The information provided by TreatNOW.org does not constitute a medical recommendation. It is intended for informational purposes only, and no claims, either real or implied, are being made.