Veterans Put On Skull Masks, March to Expose Epidemic of VA Abuse and Veteran Suicide

By Matt Agorist

New Orleans, LA — Veterans from all over the United States gathered in front of the New Orleans VA hospital Sunday morning for a march to raise awareness for the epidemic of veteran suicides currently gripping the nation.

It is no secret that the leading cause of death among active duty troops deployed to the Middle East is not combat or accidents, or IEDs — it’s themselves. The Pentagon’s own statistics show that this is a crisis but it is being ignored.

In 2016, the Pentagon examined the numbers, noting that a total of 55 US troops, in both hostile and non-hostile situations, lost their lives in foreign occupations. The number of soldiers who killed themselves was nearly 5 times that amount.

Not only are active duty soldiers tragically ending their own lives at an increasing rate, but once they finish their service, these numbers skyrocket. While the suicide rate for active duty members is certainly shocking, veterans kill themselves at a rate nearly 200 percent more.

The most recent data shows that a veteran kills himself or herself in the United States about every 65 minutes. That is 8,000 veterans a year.

If we look at attempted suicides, that number skyrockets once more to 19,000 attempts, of which 8,000 result in ending their own lives.

One of these attempted suicides was Air Force veteran John Michael Watts, 58, who approached the Georgia Capitol in downtown Atlanta around 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday and within minutes, he was engulfed in flames that burned 90 percent of his body.

Watts set himself on fire in an attempted suicide to raise awareness to the problems within the VA.

“These findings are deeply concerning, which is why I made suicide prevention my top clinical priority,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin last year. “I am committed to reducing Veteran suicides through support and education. We know that of the 20 suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care. This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.”

Indeed, this problem is concerning, but the VA is not posing any real solutions, which is why this group of veterans came together on Sunday, put on skull masks to humanize the dead, and marched to the 2018 Libertarian Convention.

The “March of the Dead” was an event organized by activist and veteran of the USMC, Adam Kokesh.

“I’ve had a few friends and a number of vets I’ve known commit suicide. I’ve dealt with PTSD myself and turned down a big bag of pharmaceuticals from the VA,” Kokesh told News2Share as the reason for organizing the march. “But for me, the motivation is all the guys I see struggling who I know would be better off with freedom to seek treatment without the drug war in the way. Twenty veterans will commit suicide today. How many wouldn’t with proper treatment?”

The march began at the VA hospital where, ironically, police quickly blocked all the veterans from being on the property. The veterans then formed up and marched to the libertarian convention—not as a protest—but to show support for the only party willing to apply solutions that will address this problem.

Upon reaching the convention, the group of veterans, of which TFTP’s Matt Agorist was a part, presented a folded flag to the chairman of the Libertarian National Committee, Nicholas Sarwark. The flag was signed by all the veterans who participated in the protest

“As many of you in this room know, but not a lot of people in the country know,” Sarwark said. “The Libertarian party is the only party committed to the solutions that will get to the root causes of the veteran suicide in this country: namely increased opioid addiction, not sending our men and women off to fight in other countries’ civil wars, and generally promoting a policy of peace.”

Because Agorist participated in the March as a veteran, TFTP’s footage of the march is limited; however, Ford Fischer with News2Share made the powerful video below summing up the march.

War is the plight of mankind. It is perpetually waged by cowards too afraid to send themselves or their own children into harm’s way, but who do not hesitate to send the poor or ‘patriotic.’

When the state is done with its pawns of empire, it disposes of them like spent military gear. They then become unable to get the proper care they need for illness and injury related to their service. If they try to self-medicate to cope with the subsequent PTSD from being forced to brutally occupy a foreign country, these veterans have their children taken, face life in prison, or worse.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates that nearly 50,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Another 140,000 are currently in jail, many of them for victimless crimes like drug possession for trying to treat their illness without pharmaceuticals.

As if the numbers aren’t bad enough, veterans are often the target of unjust attention from law enforcement. On multiple occasions, the Department of Homeland Security has referred to veterans as potential terrorists and noted that they pose a threat to national security.

The Free Thought Project has reported on case after case of veterans returning home only to be beaten and locked up for speaking out, or killed by police during a PTSD-triggered episode.

Lip service of ‘supporting the troops’ is proving to be the worst possible thing for them.

If you really want to “support the troops” you’ll stop supporting wars of aggression in distant lands in which Americans are forced to kill people who pose no threat to the US.

If you really “support the troops” you’ll stop blindly standing up for your government whose proven track record shows that they do everything but support the troops.

It’s time for Congress to act on behalf of all veterans and Americans to legalize marijuana across the nation, end foreign wars of aggression, and reboot the VA. Too many people are in jail and are being charged with felonies for a plant—one that has demonstrated the power to treat the pain and depression of war, addictions to the opioids dished out by the VA, and most importantly—to prevent suicide.

Matt Agorist is an honorably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project, where this article first appearedFollow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Facebook.

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14 Comments on "Veterans Put On Skull Masks, March to Expose Epidemic of VA Abuse and Veteran Suicide"

  1. More Russian propaganda? Why? Real Veterans may have a problem with the VA and it’s care, but they are not Anti-War lunatics, all in for supporting Russia and it’s goals of destroying America.

    • VIC_MORROWS_HEAD | July 3, 2018 at 12:19 pm | Reply

      Just say NO to WAR PIGS.While their kids are drunk at some frat party,sliping date rape drug to some naive victim,it’s the poor kids in strange lands killing people,not knowing the reason why.

      ak-47’s are NO THREAT to Americans-just so long as we stay clear

  2. VA quallity of care is top-rated, higher than private, so the
    Trump proposal to use private doctors would not improve quality but would cost much more This is a slap in the face of fiscal conservativism.

    Republicans since the 90’s have refused to fund the VA adequately so its very real problems stem not from lack of quality but underfunding and understaffing, leading to long wait times. Under Obama,VA spending rose about 10% a year; under the Trump 2019 proposed budget, it would rise 6%…..a decliine in termsof trying to catch up with demand.

    • rhondareichel | July 3, 2018 at 2:29 pm | Reply

      It’s run badly too

      • Any huge enterprise that is vastly underfunded and understaffed will, by definition, be run badly. However the fact that quality of care is top rated for much less than private care shows very efficient management and committment, doesn’t it.

  3. What do you expect remorseful and contrite veterans to do? They know how many dead children are lying in graves because of their actions, they know that these children were innocent of any enmity towards the US. The evil these poor guys did is too much for them to take. The only way out is the final one! It isn’t them who should suffer, its the Bushes, Obamas and Trumps of this World that deserve to feel guilty, but they will be the last ones to do so!

    • Sociopaths do not feel guilt.

    • just try to remember in the campaign, that fat orange clown said that he would not intervene in other country affairs or act in regime change, PERIOD, the damn sociopath lied over and over, in syria sending missiles there on a proven lie, and killing civilains this is a war crime, and he is sending more troops than ever, more than obummer, this is a hypocrite to do this when he had 5 deferments to stay out of vietnam, he would not serve, he cares nothing about military lives, or civilian, this proves it……….

    • rhondareichel | July 3, 2018 at 2:28 pm | Reply

      Conscientious objector
      Save yourselves too.

      • It really isn’t about not fighting for your country, because you don’t want to kill. It is much more about fighting, only when the threat is existential, such as WWII and the Nazis horror! There is simply no way anyone including Bush,Obama, Trump and Clinton can argue successfully, that poor nations in the Middle East are an existential threat to mighty America. We all know that, it just isn’t so. Rather, these were discretionary attacks and invasions which left the poor victims living in the targeted countries out of the equation, as if they didn’t exist. That is what I object to and that is what has harmed the veterans terribly!

  4. rhondareichel | July 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm | Reply

    Our politicians are more focused on helping border hoppers

  5. I live in Spokane Washington and the VA health care is great they always give me good care and being a senior I have no problem with them, but I have some friends who live out of State where there VA care is Bad, my opinion is that some VA hospitals gives out good care to the veterans and some VA Hospitals do not, I do hear a lots of stories from veterans at VFW national convections there some good reports and some bad ones!

  6. just looking at what happened to michael flynn and governor greitens says it all.

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