The following is Part Four and the final post of a 4-part series, titled “Veterans: A Free Ranging Discourse” written by local attorney and SAV volunteer, Rich DeJean. Part OnePart TwoPart Three
— Part 4 — (conclusion)
A DIRE STATISTIC
Radio station KATT reported on the national news of June 15, 2018 that each day 22 veterans commit suicide. Over the past three years, I have volunteered my time with Send-A-Vet Foundation. Primarily, I assisted in backpacking supplies into various off-road hunting and fishing locations that the veterans have established in the Nez Perce National Forest and Clearwater National Forest in North-Central Idaho. I have worked with several of these veterans, however, over the past two years I have primarily with Jose. Those who run Send-A-Vet Foundation, almost by intuition, know that a brief respite from the stress of everyday society, spent in these north woods and along these great rivers, probably is as therapeutic as any medical approach. And, whereas I told you at the beginning of this article, that if you took a drive along the Selway River, you would meet Jose or Jimmy or Mark or Rich, with the passage of the 8-9 weeks in which I have been working on this article, my message today would be different. If you were to take that drive today you would still meet Jimmy or Mark or Rick, however, you would not meet Jose. Sadly, on August 12, 2018, I received word that Jose had taken his life. Jose had battlefield PTSD. I knew that Jose had inner troubles but I did not know their nature. I attempted to locate assistance for him but was unable to do so before these inner demons overtook him. I considered Jose a friend of mine and I know his loss will be a great loss for Send-A-Vet Foundation. His death saddened me considerably.
If a veteran consults you in your practice, be aware that they probably will not bring to your attention any combat-related injuries from which they may suffer. But if you suspect it, raise the subject with them and emphasize that help is available and their privacy will be maintained. I wish I had had the information I now have as I might possibly have been able to avert the tragedy that befell Jose.
If a combat-injured veteran comes into your practice, give them a little TLC – they deserve it. They have earned it.
About: Rich DeJean practices law in Sumner where he landed after swimming and slogging through Cajun Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Swamp, until he hit high ground in Idaho and Washington. While the Clearwater and Nez Perce National Forests are some of his favorites, he has probably hiked into most, if not every, national forest/wilderness area in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado and a good swarth of Alaska. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Sumner Food Bank. His practice emphasizes personal injury and employment discrimination.
Send-A-Vet is focused on sending our nation’s combat-injured soldiers on various outdoor adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and even Africa. We work diligently with multiple volunteers and donors to secure the resources needed to guarantee a safe and positive experience. As a result, our program will assist in the psychological recovery of our combat wounded veterans.
Send-A-Vet is a Washington State and Federally certified 501c3 non-profit.