The Life Support Project Agreement has already saved one life, and it is help and reassurance to take care of family and friends, as much as it is to save Veterans Lives.
The picture is my grandson, and I chose it because of the message he conveys, looking up to us to do something. Besides, the pic of me volunteering to take people to get food, on my facebook page, is easy to find.
Volunteering started at about age 5, when I was in the newspaper, polishing teapots for a Seattle Milk Fund fundraiser, after that was the Marian Award, received in St. Mark's Cathedral.
I worked at a college and a city hall, so have lots of experience working within grant requirements, handling huge budgets, personnel issues, purchasing, and special events. There have been numerous other volunteer projects along the years.
Then I returned to school when my son deployed with the USMC. The most recent big projects started with a food bank I opened on campus for students struggling between purchasing groceries and textbooks. Then we opened an auction site to post donations that couldn't be used at the foodbank, and raised about $10k.
After that I started writing grants, and wrote grants for a Children's Backpack program, a Sanitary kitchen for a homeless population, and an organic garden for a homeless population.
Then a friend committed suicide. He was in terrible physical pain, but he was also upset because he just learned that his marriage was over. I was devastated, but his best friend was destroyed.
I lost a year of my life watching over his best friend, who could not function. We were tormented by guilt that we had missed some significant words that could have clued us in to what was about to happen, that we could have stopped it somehow, or that perhaps we hadn't cared enough for him.
But, we did. We did care, we were there, we did help him every day, and we did everything we could for him. But, he wouldn't speak about what he really needed to say. That would have been covered by his choice of person in the Life Support Agreement.
I know who he would have chosen to speak to, and it wasn't any of us.
I learned that each of us close to our friend who died, was now 5 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT SUICIDE. It's sort of like an avalanche.
It is a horrible thing to experience, and it is brought ON us, and INto our lives, by someone that we love and care about, which is a hard concept to understand unless you have lived through it. The LIfe Support Agreement gives ALL of us peace of mind to know that we have done EVERYTHING we could do, and that alone will help thousands of people.
Then my son returned from Afghanistan, and explained a few things to me that I didn't understand.
Then another friend committed suicide. He had untreated pain levels that he was told would only worsen. I turned my focus to PTSD, depression, and trying to find an answer to Veteran Suicide.
I know how easy it could be to just give up. Especially when people closest to you refuse to listen to you. So, then we need to find other people who are willing to develop a relationship based upon truly listening, and being there for each other.
Those people are the Responders we need to recruit for those who feel there is no one. That was one surprising message I learned when interviewing Veterans about this project - they said, "I don't have anyone I could call."
After discussing this with the VA doctor, he agreed and said this was very true of both the older Veterans, and the younger Veterans who have recently returned. No one group is alone in not having someone close to talk with about it. That is what isolation is, and it's important that you recognize isolation in a Veteran you love.
If you find yourself isolating someone by leaving them out, talking about them behind their back, or things of this nature, you may be part of the problem. And, that is a terribly disrespectful, and arrogant, way to treat our beloved Veterans (or, anyone else, for that matter.)
That is also why I went directly to Veterans with this idea, and spoke with them directly. There are numerous ideas that were added to this project, and everyone of those ideas came directly from a Veteran.
I also know that there are other reasons for suicide and not just, "It's easier for everyone if I just die". It is also that sometimes the pain and loss from emotional, physical or mental experiences just makes life unbearable. While working on my Doctorate, I did a lot of research and learned there is help for that, too, in ways that are astonishing. (That will be presented in a series of TV shows, later.)
To summarize: The short term plans for this project are:
1. First get the word out nationally that this Life Support Agreement could put an end to most Veteran Suicide,
2. Train the Responders, so they are prepared and confident.
3. Support the Responders when they are called with transportation funds, and support work such as phone calls so they are free from work and other obligations and can spend time with the Veteran, and also hold their jobs and other parts of their lives together.
4. Create a Respite place that is safe for Veterans and Responders to spend time talking, and that is a break from their homes if necessary, does not have the stigma of being in the hospital, yet can be used in many ways for the organization.
While there are laws that protect us from liability by trying to help, under "Good Samaritan Laws", there is also a Duty to Rescue that belongs to ALL of us. If we can realize that our Veterans did not shirk their responsibility to do what was asked of them, and that it is now our duty to Care for them, we must follow through with the inspiration of this idea and do what we can to save our beloved Veterans.
Please, donate generously so we can get this idea shared nationally. Every hour that goes by we lose another Veteran.
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