Veterans Corner: Military suicide rates drop

Community Contributed

By Jesse Church

Aloha all my fellow veterans, and residents of Molokai, old Jesse here with all the veterans news and upcoming events. Marine Lance Cpl. Victor Padilla never dreamed that his best friend would try to kill himself. Padilla and a fellow Marine and best friend were on a fishing trip together. Padilla, who is stationed aboard the Naval Consolidated Brig Charleston, South Carolina, said his friend was looking forward to meeting up for dinner when they returned to the barracks. By that time, Padilla said his friend’s mood had changed, he seemed upset, and was moving around quickly. Padilla knew his friend had a short temper, and decided to let him go shower and blow off steam. After about 20 minutes, his friend had not returned so Padilla went looking for him, and found him hanging from the balance by two belts tied together. Padilla said he doesn’t remember much of what followed, but hauled his friend to safety, called the duty NCO, and the medics took him to the hospital, where he survived.

The suicide dropped over the past two years in the Corps and is the lowest among any branch, according to the DOD statistics, but Marine officials continue to preach vigilance. Even so, the attempt is one of 100 recorded by Corps officials through April 30, and at least eight deaths among active duty, and reservists were ruled suicides so far this year. For saving his best friend, Padilla earned the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, an award given for heroism and meritorious service. Padilla’s medal is thought to be the first one of any branch of service for stopping a suicide attempt.

House lawmakers have been busy bees lately actively trying to help veterans, if you can believe it. Two bills were given unanimous bipartisan support. One was a bill that gave the Dept. of Veterans Affairs a new measure of accountability over their employees. The second bill will offer new ID cards for any honorably discharged service member. It seems that veterans’ issues have become a hot topic in the house, and I hope that it will continue to be. The new bill of employee accountability it will require all VA officials to maintain all written reprimands and punishments that employees receive for as long as they are employed by the VA. Those records are now erased within three years of the infraction, problem employees can then move around the department and gain promotions with minimal or no concern for their past infractions. The new ID cards bill would create official VA cards for all veterans, not only those who qualify for certain health care and financial benefits, and I am one veteran that applauds the new bill. It’s about time that all veterans are given ID cards, the way things are now some veterans must carry around a copy of their DD-214 to prove their military service for other public agencies and private business. It’s about time.

Please continue to support our troops, and pray for the quick and safe return of those troops in harm’s way. Please keep your information coming to me, call old Jesse at 553-3323. I love every man, woman and child on Molokai from my heart, you are my family, see you next week. Aloha, and mahalo.

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