Saturday, June 9, 2012

Surviving Depression

There are many stories of those who don't survive once they come home and try to live normal lives.

"About one out of every five veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq have some form of PTSD and depression, according to a federal study. Last month (January 2010), the Department of Veterans Affairs said the suicide rate among veterans between 18 and 29 years old climbed 26 percent from 2005 to 2007. The VA also said 20 percent of the 30,000 suicides reported in the U.S. are committed by veterans. The suicide rate among veterans is nearly twice the rate for civilians, according to reports." Hidden wounds

Anna and John Bigham hold a photo of Lance Cpl. Mills Bigham, Anna’s brother and John’s son. The 23-year-old Marine committed suicide in October (2009). His family has founded Hidden Wounds, a nonprofit organization based in Columbia that provides temporary support to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. – C. Aluka Berry/

"Mills Bigham wrote about his first kill in his journal on Oct. 3, just 16 days before he took his own life.Bigham said he wanted to tell the story “so you can understand the way death may or may not affect the living party. “As he approached the fallen attacker, Bigham said he could see “it is abruptly clear he is leaving his world, and soon. 'He is suffocating in his own blood. He is blowing blood bubbles through his red teeth. He is crying. There are bubbles coming from the two holes in his chest. One to the left of his heart, and the other to the right. Death took him and there were no new bubbles. He cried no more. I checked his ID. He is 12. I wept that night.'"
But while PTSD and returning from the field is a dramatic and tragic path into pain and sadness, it is not the only path of depression in the Marine Corps. Simpler, more mundane problems can drive the mental health of these young people. Isolation from their families, family problems and lack of stimulation take their toll as well. Marine leaders are encouraged to be observant and react in a "convincingly and genuinely concerned" manner."

"When a Marine appears depressed, anxious or isolated, it is a red flag that something needs to be done. Getting help before the problem becomes too big can get a depressed or anxious Marine back on track and help unit readiness at the same time."  Leader's guide
Depression takes many forms and has warning signals to watch for. But when it's internalized, blown over and ignored, it can be internally and externally very destructive.

"Darren Evans, the Marine facing charges in the beating death of Lance Cpl. Mario Arias, had been suicidal but allowed to drink by leaders, witnesses said in military hearing Thursday. " Camp Pendleton Dispatch
Ultimately it takes observation, peer support and compassion to identify depression issues in Marines. Vigilance is required on the part of officers, family members and fellow Marines to identify and help those who may need a little support to survive.

“In the combat lifesaver course, one of the things the instructors teach you to do in combat situations is self-aid (providing medical attention to yourself), buddy-aid (assistance from a fellow Marine) and then corpsman-aid (assistance from a Navy corpsman),” said Sgt. James A. Lyon. “When it comes to depression, Marines can’t do it alone. That’s why it’s very important for all Marines to look out for one another.”  Marines protect Marines

1 comment:

  1. Being a part of the killing machine can take its toll.
    When I was in, and after,I had to keep reminding myself that the deaths of others was necessary and worth my grief. This is hard.