As suicides among members of the U.S. military and veterans continue at a rate higher than in the general population—nearly 20 each day—and their calls for help become louder, with three veterans waiting for treatment outside Veterans Administration hospitals in 2019 committing suicide, authors and former U.S. Marines Kate Hendricks Thomas and Sarah Plummer Taylor present a call for a new approach to help halt the needless deaths.
Thomas, now a researcher and assistant professor of public health, and Plummer Taylor, now a social worker and adjunct professor, detail a plan to establish preventative training for mental fitness that will help psychologically “vaccinate” service members against depression and PTSD, the most common precursors to suicidal thoughts. Thomas and Plummer Taylor detail their mental fitness training program to shift from post-trauma treatment to pre-trauma prevention. Each topic addressed is illustrated with stories from veterans. Part of the solution, Thomas and Plummer Taylor explain, is to present prevention as something for all service members and as a positive, strength-building, challenging activity for champions, as opposed to a post-trauma treatment only for “weak and broken” warriors.
- Includes a plan for proactive military measures to establish knowledge and habits to help service members, before trauma, become depression- and suicide-resistant
- Includes vignettes from veterans explaining the "warrior culture" that makes service members and veterans treatment-recalcitrant after trauma
- Includes vignettes from veterans who suffered sexual assault in the military
- Describes the alienation felt by veterans and reasons for it
- Explains the key components of a mental fitness program to rewire the brain for resilience