Military Suicides at Near-Record Levels: Marine Corps, Navy, SOCOM Suicides at 10-Year Highs

BLUEMONT, Va., Feb. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth raised concerns this week about announcements made by the Marine Corps, Navy, and Special Operations Command (SOCOM) spotlighting a growing crisis in active duty military mental health. As noted on CNN.com, "The number of confirmed and suspected suicides in the active-duty Marine Corps and the Navy reached a 10-year high in 2018. Sixty-eight active duty Navy personnel died by suicide in 2018, while the Marine Corps sources say the service is concerned that 2018 may have seen a total of 75 suicides including reserve forces, even with the extensive mental health programs available." The article also noted that "…many of the cases are young Marines who have not deployed overseas and have not been in combat -- a situation that has been seen in other branches of the military as well."

The VA National Suicide Data Report cites 6,000 Veteran suicides each year from 2008 to 2016. And many of the other 2.8 million men and women deployed since September 11, 2001 are dealing with mental health challenges, to include adjustment issues, depression, anxiety, and Traumatic Brain Injuries.  

"Stark comparisons with the relatively strong mental health of past generations of service members and veterans point to a systemic social problem and the makings of an epidemic," points out Ken Falke, retired Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy's elite bomb squad and best-selling author of Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma. Falke added, "This is in spite of the fact that we are spending more money than ever on traditional mental health approaches."

Falke continues, "Our approach to mental health is failing. We need a new and innovative strategy to address this epidemic of suicides – and that is precisely what we have developed over the past five years," referring to years of benchmarked success at Boulder Crest Retreat. Boulder Crest has successfully developed Warrior PATHH (Progressive & Alternative Training for Healing Heroes), the first-ever program proven to cultivate and facilitate Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in the military and veteran community. Based on the success of Warrior PATHH, Falke co-authored the book Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma, to develop a scalable training program that can be integrated into the active duty and veteran communities.

At the core of Warrior PATHH and Struggle Well lies 42 years of work into the science of Posttraumatic Growth, and a belief in the power of training rather than treatment. Falke and his team, in collaboration with Dr. Richard Tedeschi, the founder of Posttraumatic Growth, developed a curriculum that operationalizes Dr. Tedeschi's concepts through 7 days of group training, followed by an 18-month goal-oriented support phase. After a rigorous 18-month study, the Warrior PATHH program demonstrated a 56 percent sustained reduction in PTSD symptom scores, a 42 percent increase in personal strength, and a 40 percent increase in personal growth. This success has guided the creation of the Struggle Well curriculum, which offers great potential for stemming the tide of suicides and mental health issues on active duty.

"Our nation has access to insights, but lacks a collaborative system to apply the data," cites Falke. He points to evidence, including:

  • Trauma Before Enlistment is Linked to High Suicide Rates Among Military Personnel and Veterans 

  • The current system is largely focused on care from well-meaning but often under-resourced facilities, often leaving vets feeling even more deeply alienated

  • Struggling veterans are often given labels (like "Disorder" or "Treatment Resistant Depression") and a financial stipend incenting them to accept and maintain their tenuous status quo. 

  • There is a functional training disparity as US military receive weeks of training to become battle-ready warriors, and only hours of coaching upon transition out of duty.

"We're training service members and veterans to live great lives," points out the Executive Director of the Boulder Crest Institute, Josh Goldberg. "When they are given a path to a better life, and the training to walk that road, they can transform deep struggle into profound strength and lifelong growth, and live great lives. That is the antidote to suicide – not suicide prevention but the creation of a life worth living."

"The Boulder Crest Institute is actively teaching others to embrace PTG," clarifies Falke. "We hope to continue integrating this into the active duty community so we can ensure that our service members – both before and after deployments and combat experience – are able to thrive during and after their invaluable service." 

Media Contact: Anna Kavanaugh, 1-540-554-2727

anna@bouldercrestinstitute.org

Related Video:

https://vimeo.com/291932489


When Female Veterans Return Home — Marie Claire

“More than 380,000 women have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and about 1 in 5 of them return with post-traumatic stress disorder. One unorthodox veterans’ retreat is teaching female soldiers that war has not broken them. In fact, their anguish may be key to their transformation.” — Jim Rendon

Read more here https://www.marieclaire.com/health-fitness/a24229872/female-veterans-ptsd-boulder-crest-retreat/

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PRESS RELEASE | Boulder Crest Retreat Expands Out West

PRESS RELEASE | Boulder Crest Retreat Expands Out West

 

SONOITA, Ariz., July 6, 2017 (Newswire.com) - Today, Boulder Crest Retreat announces a $10 million donation from the A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation. This is the largest gift in Boulder Crest Retreat's history. The gift provides the capacity to expand its programs to the western United States for veterans and families who are healing from combat-related stress.

A century after ‘shell shock,’ struggle to address post-combat trauma continues

Many of us do not appreciate the significance of World War I and the immeasurable impact it had on the 20th century and our lives. The period of U.S. involvement not only brought social and economic growth and innovation, but also the intellectual foundation for our current understanding of the psychological wounds of war.

Always Memorial Produces Custom Bronze Battle Cross for Boulder Crest Retreat

Tyler Fraser, CEO of Always Memorial, announces the completion and unveiling of a custom made bronze naval battle cross for Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness in Bluemont, Virginia.

“We are honored to work with Ken and Julia Falke, at Boulder Crest Retreat. The Falke's work in helping thousands of veterans since 9/11 is amazing and it is a privilege and honor to produce this bronze memorial,” said Tyler.

To Help Vets, Overhaul How We Treat PTSD

One out of every three Americans returning home from Iraq or Afghanistan struggles with psychological wounds, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They are your neighbors, coworkers, and friends. After serving our country, they become cogs in a byzantine system, delivered outmoded treatments and profit-driven pharmacology that produce sub-par results. The current veteran suicide rate of 20 per day should shock the conscience. Equally alarming, however, is the fact that only half of those with PTSD seek treatment, and 20 percent of those who seek help, actually complete their treatments.

Strategic Retreat: 'Post-traumatic growth' helps war vets find their futures

In November 2016, the Washington Post wrote an extensive piece on our Warrior PATHH program. The article has subsequently been re-published in newspapers across the country, most recently in the Sarasota Tribune. You can access the article HERE or below.

All Marine Radio hosts Ken Falke for live radio interview

In case you missed it, on January 25, 2017 All Marine Radio hosted Ken Falke to discuss the concept of "post-traumatic growth" and the groundbreaking work that's been done at Boulder Crest Retreat and what the future holds for this approach to treating PTS. Below, you can listen to the entire interview broken into four different segments. Enjoy!

The Mighty 25: Veterans to watch in 2017

As featured on: The Mighty 25: Veterans to watch in 2017, January 25, 2017

After their service, many veterans find ways to continue to make great strides across the nation and the globe — from the arts to politics to non-profit organizations. One of the great privileges we enjoy here at We Are The Mighty is that we learn about and meet veterans who are doing really incredible, meaningful and sometimes truly badass things, every day.

Each year, we have the honor of choosing The Mighty 25 — a list of veterans whose amazing accomplishments suggest they are poised for major impact in the coming year.

It’s always tough narrowing those who’ve really made an impression — veterans we want other veterans to know about — to a list of 25, because for every individual selected, there are several others who could easily take their place

Certainly, there are veterans we’d be honored to highlight year after year. In order to keep things fresh, however, we try to cover a broad sweep of the veteran community and to highlight people we think our readers might like to track in the coming year. These are vets who make us proud, and we’re excited to follow their work as the year progresses.

See our Founder and Chairman as number 9! Click here to read more!

 

Helping Our Heroes Heal

Wall Street Journal, December 21, 2016

In this season, we should remember that we are called to love our neighbor as we would like to be loved, and that these gifts can come in many forms. Among them is the healing power found in medical advances that for America’s veterans have provided miracles in dealing with war’s visible wounds. However, success in dealing with invisible ones, like post-traumatic stress (PTS), can be more difficult.

The Department of Veterans Affairs estimates between 11% and 20% of Iraqi and Afghan war vets suffer from PTS in any given year, contributing to unacceptably high suicide rates and difficulties re-integrating warriors into family, work and life.

Julia and Ken Falke faced this challenge. Ken was a Navy bomb-disposal expert who was seriously injured in a 1989 exercise. During his recovery, he learned not to let adversity diminish him, but to draw on the experience to grow as a person.

Boulder Crest Retreat is featured in the American Psychological Association's publication - The Military Psychologist

BCR's efforts were recently spotlighted in an American Psychological Association's publication - The Military Psychologist, which noted, "We have found BCR to be unique in the level of comprehensive care it provides. We are also impressed with the potential the program has to become a model for establishing and developing effective grassroots community based programs for veterans and family members." Read the article here