Forward Observer — Resolving the Suicide Issue: The Obvious Brings Its Own Complications

Veterans At Risk Of Suicide Negotiate A Thorny Relationship With Guns, NPR Reports

LVMAC Poster Art 2005Two key points are raised in the article which follows that affect the results, and work against what would seem to be common sense:

1) There is a question as to if the VA is really following a due or, at least, a fair process.  We know of a veteran who was not properly informed of the proceedings against him.  In addition, the VA, according to this article, is probably violating his/her Second Amendment rights, while trying to do the right thing.

2) Fear of being branded as mentally incompetent, may cause affected veterans not to access the benefits they’ve earned, including access to health care for conditions related to their military service.  When a veteran is most fragile, he/she may be effectively driven away.  Why is the term “mental incompetence” used in all instances in the first place?

Click on image for the NPR article

There is also a question hardly ever discussed which if answered might partially alleviate the dilemma: What is the process for restoring a veteran’s right to firearms once he/she has recovered without the expense of hiring a lawyer and going to court to restore one’s rights?  What the VA does essentially administratively should be able to be undone administratively.  If a psychologist or psychiatrist writes the veteran has recovered and is once again mentally competent, a a widely-known, administrative review process to restore the individual’s right to firearms should be in place?   This is not a criminal matter in the first place, yet a system designed for criminals is being used, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System — another irony.

And finally, there is one other matter.  One must question how fair it is to potentially shuttle a person to the side of society when they have often have much yet to contribute.  Once recovered, the fear or concern over of what a what a background check might reveal to one’s embarrassment or detriment, when a business or nonprofit requires one, is not hard to understand.  It used to be a man’s tribulations were a more private affair.

It is time for the VA and the rest of federal government to address these issues head on, if they want to help accelerate the progress on the veteran suicide issue.

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RJH
2 May 2017

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