Veteran Suicides – Who is to blame?

| February 21, 2020


We are never going to stop all veteran suicides.   However, I think we all agree that one…is one too many.  Who is really to blame?

The mother of a U.S. Navy Reservist who killed himself outside the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin last year has filed an $8.2 million wrongful death claim against the Veterans Affairs Department.

Pressley shot himself to death in the hospital parking lot on April 5, one of three veterans who, over a five-day span, committed suicide outside of VA facilities. One died outside the main entrance of the Atlanta VA Medical Center in Decatur the next day. Three days later, a veteran killed himself in front of hundreds of people in a waiting room at a VA clinic in Austin, Texas.

Who will tell Rhonda Wilson that her son was responsible for his own death?  Who will tell Rhonda that taking $8.2 million from the VA will not bring her son back or save the life of one more veteran?  It will enrich her and a hoard of lawyers on both sides of this case.  The lawyers will get paid, they always do.  This case and most all other cases like it get settled in a back room behind closed doors.  Generally,  there is another attorney wearing a robe in that room, pretending to be objective.

When will we get serious about Tort Reform?

It is hard to blame the mother of someone who killed themself for much of anything.   Notwithstanding that, I strongly disagree with Rhonda Wilson getting paid a dime.  This kind of nonsense has to come to an end. I can not imagine her life since the death of her son.  Lawyers picking over the dead corpse of a veteran for their own enrichment sickens me.

Doctors prescribed him hydrocodone for his pain. Without it, his mother said, he could not walk or work. He was studying business administration at Gordon State College in Barnesville and working at an auto parts store before his death. His mother’s claim says he couldn’t get his prescription, though there was no evidence that he was diverting, misusing or abusing his medication.

If you know anyone that can not “walk or work” without hydrocodone, please get that drug addict some help.  And, spare me all the “I have pain and I need…” blah, blah, blah.  If you or anyone you know, that is not dying of a terminal illness, is dependent on that kind of medication…seek help now.

The VA could choose to pay the claim, negotiate it over the next six months or deny it, which could prompt his mother to sue in federal court, said her attorney, Peter Bertling.

I hope the VA tells Bertling to stop feeding off the grief of a mother who lost her son.  There are over 30,000 veteran organizations in this country and 24-hour hotlines,  special “Awareness Ribbons” and on and on.   Let’s blame doctors for giving medication to veterans and then blame them again if they stop.

Gary Pressley was a full-grown man.  Gary Pressley is responsible for killing her son, the people who have to provide the cash that she is demanding from the VA had nothing to do with it.  You and I had nothing to do with it, but we pay the bill.  If you want to give money to Rhonda Wilson, have at it.  Please leave me out of it and don’t feed parasites as they gorge on the dead.


Category: Health Care debate, Veteran Health Care

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I blame Michael Cimino and Steven Hilliard Stern.

They were the leading lights of Hollywood who created and popularized the “broken veteran” motif that dominates our pop culture.

Alan Alda receives a dishonorable mention here as well.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

I don’t disagree at all with the general sentiment of this post. Suicide by definition is a mostly solitary act at the discretion of the individual acting on that impulse. Occasionally there is a second party offering encouragement as we’ve seen recently but for the most part it’s the last act of a desperate, depressed individual who is ultimately responsible. I will disagree a bit with another aspect of this post, as Tort reform is another matter entirely. With some corporations having near virtual monopolies and massive fortunes tort reform will do little to restrain their actions as they determine paying a few suits is cheaper than resolving whatever it was that brought them about. The Ford Pinto is all you need to know about to understand why tort reform benefits corporate America far more than average America. Ford knew there was a problem and had 3 or 4 options to fix those problems all costing less than $10 per vehicle to make sure no one would be blown up in their Pintos in a rear end collision. They decided that $10 profit per vehicle was more important than the lives of their fellow Americans. The jury in the Pinto case was so disgusted by Ford’s actions in knowingly endangering the lives of thousands of drivers they awarded 125 million in punitive damages The other unspoken reality behind most of those cases, once again point to the Ford Pinto, is that the initial award is never the final award. The… Read more »


I hear the concept of the USA being a “therapeutic culture” and there is some merit to that. However, the “therapeutic” is only extended to some classes or identities.

Others can pound sand.

When people grow up with the promise of this always watchful nanny culture and then experience the real world in the shocking and painful way many veterans have (although I note that suicide is actually rare among combat veterans)I suspect that some simply have no way or strength to cope.

Resilience has to be built. It is very rare to find someone just born with it. The unfortunate fact is that our very culture seeks to prevent resilience and rewards dependence–both physically and emotionally.

Given that context, I don’t believe that there is anything the VA can do to even impact this problem. Until America stops mollycoddling children and adults, suicide is going to be a problem.

Strong adults are built, not found.


As the Eagles sang (or decent cover ’cause YouTube sukz ballz) “Get Over It”:


“The unfortunate fact is that our very culture seeks to prevent resilience and rewards dependence–both physically and emotionally”. BOOOOM!!
Nailed it, 25x.

Dave Hardin

I have found that most issues are not black or white…they are generally some shade of grey.

You are suggesting that “Tort Reform” means doing away with punitive judgments. That kind of thing is simply not true.

If you are suggesting that we do not need to change the manner in which lawyers feed off of this current system then we will just have to agree to disagree.

Once again, if you want to give money to the mommy of a full grown man who killed himself…you are completely free to do so.

Please allow me to opt out of participating. My mother is still alive, regardless of how I die or by whom…please do not force others to send her money.


Tort reform is an important component to fixing what ails our overall health care market, but it is not the cause or curative in itself to veteran suicide.

It does have one important impact: doctors often make medical decisions based not on the necessity or even effectiveness of a given treatment or therapy, but upon the reduction of legal risk.

That is an important aspect, but the reform has to be sensible. We have a bad habit of creating winner take all games in the USA and simply changing the winners is not a solution here.

Dave Hardin

Again, we are not going to completely stop veteran suicides. We all agree we should do all we can to provide preventative measures to address it.

Gary Pressley killed himself, rewarding that action by giving him or his family (and parasites) $8.5 million will do nothing in the long run but reassure someone that is thinking about suicide that their family is better off financially with them dead.

Just do it in the VA parking lot and mommy will get that Condo she always wanted.


We’ll see…a lot of these payments are the result of insurance paying off rather than fighting….which is another area needing reform.

But in the end, these settlements are the result of juries awarding money to people because they can.

Weird how our problems as a nation always seem to come down to the citizen not acting as a citizen, but as a looter.

This is a problem no law can fix.

Angela Johnson

You are sick.


In my opinion, the Department of Veterans Affairs should not be prescribing many of the medications that they are prescribing. The pharmaceutical companies manipulate the physicians. But at the same time the VA physicians believe a pill is the answer for everything. So yes I say the federal government is responsible because of the inhumane care they stick at the veterans and the American people. The VA prescribes meds that are Black Box Listed by the FDA and some banned in other countries. In my opinion, the FDA and the VA needs to put most of their formulary into an incinerator. Streamline and update. Get rid of the life threatening meds. So I do not blame this lady at all. Because the federal government knows better.

Angela Johnson

Dave, your comment is sickening with saying parasites. And mommy will get that condo she always wanted. You are a cold shallow individual.

Angela Johnson

But at the same time there are too many lawsuits. But in most cases, they could have been prevented. If people would do what they are supposed to begin with, then many of the lawsuits would not have to happen. I am referring to people do their jobs to begin with and treating others with respect. Situations boil down to respecting Life. In which many today, do not.

Dave Hardin

I agree, it sickens me too. No, the lawyers will get the condo.

All mom has is a grave to visit.

It is ugly and sickening, but we have to stop throwing money at things out of sympathy.

Dave Hardin

I will forever be grateful that the people who saved my life from addiction did not love me to death.

Angela Johnson

Not about loving someone to death. It is as bad as being entangled as not being entangled.


Dunno, Dave. This one may be far more complex than “junkie offs self because his source dried up”. There are indeed far too many “Doctor Feelgood” types out there who prescribe narcotics entirely too freely. However, recently the VA (and many civilian medical professionals) have virtually stopped prescribing any and all “opioid painkillers” because of the so-called “opioid crisis”. I say “so-called crisis” because the press latches onto some kind of drug as its drug “cause célèbre” every few years. To generalize: in the 1960s, that cause célèbre was hallucinogens; the 1970s, heroin and cocaine; the 1980s and 1990s, crack cocaine; the 2000s, meth; and for the last few years it’s been “opioids”. My guess is that in another few years, it will be something else. The Federal government has also gotten into the act. They’ve overtly pressured medical practitioners to cut back or stop prescribing opioid painkillers in order to “do something about the opioid epidemic”. Unfortunately, the reality is that some people have conditions that force them to live with long-term severe physical pain – either continuous or intermittent. Back injuries and severe migraine headaches are two examples; there are any number of other conditions that can do the same. For some so afflicted, opioid painkillers are the best solution. For a few, they’re the ONLY known working solution. And while addictive if abused, low-dosage opioid painkillers (such as Tylenol w/codine) can be routinely used for literally decades without issue. I personally know people with chronic pain issues.… Read more »


Depriving people in pain because others abuse drugs is so asinine that only a politician or journalist could come up with it as a guideline.


It sounds very much like liberal gun control policies. Could there be a pattern here?


As Helen Lovejoy would say “won’t somebody please think about the children “.


Left/libtard gun control freaks insult the mentally handicapped, please think of the mentally handicapped.


Ret_25X – And somehow politicians consider that an accomplishment.


They did something and the rest, they feel, is just a matter of “spin.” (“Politicians and diapers should be changed regularly and for the same reason.” –Mark Twain)


Unintended consequences of the CDC guidelines to be exact I was force tapered after 13 stable years to a dose so low it wouldn’t help so I celebrated My independence from medication on in Independence Day 2018 but I’ve been bed bound in chair reading pretty much ever since needlessly suffering beaten down emotionally and physically by the war on opioids.


Are you musically inclined? Might I suggest a Kalimba?
Give it a shot




The CDC admitted that Doctors, Hospitals and Pharmacists misconstrued their guidance on controlled substances.

I sincerely hope your situation will improve. IMHO,
you should have never been caught in the middle of the war on opioids.

Angela Johnson

Agree with you Hondo. The VA has a massive budget. Why can’t they try alternatives before dumping? Even the VA formulary for cancer drugs has meds that are still being used dated back in the 70s. VA needs to look for improvements not just kick the veterans to the curb.

5th/77th FA

I’m right between where this happened and where the family lived so I saw all of the local news coverage when it came down. Pressley’s “pain” problem was not from any wounds suffered in combat, it was from an accident he had (judged at fault IIRC) after a tour in Haiti working the earthquake relief. The family was not really blaming anyone but Pressley until the ambulance chasing lawer came along.

I’m wid you Dave, the taxpayer should not be on the hook for this person’s actions. There are thousands of “organizations” offering help to anyone that needs/wants it. You can’t help anyone with any problem until they want to help themselves. And to paraphrase/semi quote Mr. Shakespeare; to improve the World, FIRST thing we do is kill all the lawyers.

Here’s a little local linky for anyone interested.


Just an fyi, the Shakespeare quote is often interpreted to mean “tear down society, and start by removing all controls” with Dick offering up killing the lawyers as a first step.

Dave Hardin

If there is one thing I understand well…it’s pain. My pain.

“Give me pain medication or I will kill myself” is not a reason to write a prescription.

Furthermore, writing mommy a check…a partial check from what is left after the parasites feed on her dead son’s corpse…is not a prescription for anything.

This system of so-called punitive damages only punishes the tax payer…who had nothing to do with it.

Profit from suicide should be ridiculed for the savage farse that it is.


No, Dave, “Give me a prescription or I’ll kill my self” isn’t a particularly good strategy. But I can certainly understand someone who’s just been told they’ve got to live the rest of their life in severe pain making that decision if the pain is bad enough. And I can also see them doing so very publicly in order to make a point if the reason they have to live in pain is the deliberate withholding of effective treatment due to a misguided and frankly stupid policy decision by the Federal government.

In virtually all cases, IMO suicide is just plain wrong. But I can certainly see where someone who’s terminally ill or in continuous, severe pain with no prospect for improvement might want to make that choice.


It’s like those “Save the Environment, Kill Yourself” protestors– feel free to go right ahead with that, buddy!


“with no prospect for improvement”

That’s the key; no hope. Suicide is a rational course of action if the alternative is endless pain, physical or mental. And after a long enough period of suffering you just get damned tired, which doesn’t help at all. Having to make a choice like that is something I would wish on anybody, and I will not condemn anyone who chooses suicide.


If the reason the opioid Rx was stopped abruptly had to do with the so-called opioid crisis, then why was this individual NOT given alternative forms treatment for pain relief until a different solution could be found?

Addiction to any chemistry is ALWAYS a hazard, and there ARE many alternative pain treatment methods that have been around since before opioids were on the market, methods that worked quite well. And there are plenty of people who use those alternative methods who do NOT off themselves over pain.

This suicide thing has a hole in it, but as Dave Hardin has said, when the mother smelled money, that is probably where the hole in the story begins.

Just my view.


As I noted above, Ex-PH2 – that happens far more often during the last few years than is warranted. I personally know of cases where exactly that has happened to persons who’d been on low-dose pain management for literally decades.

Why? Ask the Federal government. But IMO it started coincident with the latest push to “do something” about the “opioid crisis”. Not proof of cause/effect, but highly suspect.

And FWIW: for some individuals and certain medical conditions, there simply aren’t non-narcotic alternatives. And when there are, sometimes it takes months or years to find them.

Opiates are dangerous; they can be addictive. But sometimes they work for long-term chronic pain management when nothing else will.


You are correct. There is also a correct way to take someone off an opiate, and a very incorrect way. You do not abruptly discontinue it if that was indeed the case. Neuroplastic changes occur in brains over time sensitizing patients to their pain, and even causing exacerbations of new rebound pain if discontinued like a Friday Night Pull-Out. Add to that the unpleasantness of standard withdrawal. He should have been stepped down correctly. He was presumably NOT using hydrocodone as a recreational release according to what is written here. A pain management team should have overseen the process if they decided it was time for him to come off it. You are also correct that there are some issues that cannot be meted justice with NSAIDS or Steroids. Conversely, opiates are a poor choice for certain other types of pain. They simply are not effective. The medical attraction to them is that they do less systemic damage to renal function than NSAIDS, and there is no dose ceiling. It’s insane! I’ve seen 13 year old kids in sickle-cell crisis go through a 1000 mg viaflex bag of straight 10mg/ml hydromorphone(Dilaudid)in a 24 hour period, and it’s 6-8 times more powerful than hydrocodone! They were NOT terminal in the normally accepted ‘6 months to live’ sense, and walked out of the hospital. They were stepped up to that dose, so then had to be stepped back down, as this guy should have been. Not very much of that would kill… Read more »


Excellent “rant”, in my view. It covers all bases and addresses exactly my point.


(Blush). High Praise! From both of you. The different opinions are interesting, and just as valid as my own. Perspective is everything. It’s one of the things I love most about this country. Thanks!


As far as I am concerned you should post this long every day. Enjoyed every bit of it, and learned a lot.

Had a friend who was addicted to Oxysomething–took about eight times the standard dose every day for some sort of pain in his thigh. His doctor told him he was going to have to cut him off, and my friend panicked. He finally kicked it and for some reason his health went to hell and he died about a year later. Coincidence? I don’t know enough to tell.

Keep up the good work; on you, verbosity looks good!


” why was this individual NOT given alternative forms treatment”

True. Any MD should know that quitting cold turkey like that is dangerous both mentally and physically. Unless there is more to this it was sheer incompetence to cut him off like that. Definite grounds for a law suit.

I have read that doctors working for the Federal government (VA) do not have to have a state license. I do hope I am wrong.

Slow Joe

Why do torts have to be reformed?

They are my favorite style of cake. They don’t need to be changed. Go and eat pie if you don’t like torts.





Why do torts have to be reformed?

They’re my favorite style of cake. . . .

Hey – haven’t you heard about the obesity crisis? THAT’S why torts have to be reformed – and strictly controlled – along with all other kinds of dessert!! Gotta protect people from themselves, dontchaknow.

Seriously – not bad, SJ. (smile)


Hush! Don’t give Nanny Bloomberg any ideas.


nice retort


That cake is a TORTE, Joe, not a legal document. You serve a TORTE with ice cream and a nice drink.

5th/77th FA

Tanks Mi’Lady, was waiting on you to wade in(to) SJ on this one. I’m wondering too, if SJ knows the difference between the torte’, the tart (thin one crispy layer fruit pastry) and a tart (generally a female of ill repute/questionable morals) Here’s a linky for you Slow Joe…Thus endith the lesson. #dessertis4eating


You left out the ice cream, 5th/77th.


Then there’s a TART, which has several meanings.


As opposed to a TORTIE, the black/orange female cat.

I love cats. I just can’t eat a whole one.


Ex, ol’ Poe was once served a very expensive tort after he had too many drinks…


Isn’t “tort” short for torture? 🙂


I would like to see the term “veteran suicide”
disappear. Suicide is suicide. What makes a
veterans suicide so special?

That’s right…deep pockets of the VA and a great
way for the left to further bash military service.
Veteran this.. veteran that…think of all the
special groups we have been seperated into.


Seems to me a couple of years ago Hondo wrote that most veteran suicides are non-combat peacetime vets?


True that. The big increase in veteran suicides after 2008 came from lowered standards in 2008 (combat exposure made no difference).


A bit more complex than that, actually.

BLUF: younger male vets and female vets are hurting WRT suicide rates (though young male vets are hurting seriously). Older vets are actually doing better than their nonveteran peers.


I haven’t reviewed the data recently but aren’t a lot of veteran suicides among the over 50 crowd?


Read the article I linked, NHSparky. Reality here doesn’t lend itself to any single “sound bite” answer, in spite of what the press and the VA want to tell you.


I did. Your data shows most male vet suicides are in the over 55 group, but as you showed, that’s because they also make up the bulk of vets, although the 18-55 suicide RATES are higher than the civilian population.


Correct. As you are sharp enough to realize (but the media fails to present), the raw numbers are meaningless without context. In contrast, rates by demographic group give insight into whether vets are doing better than nonvets or not – and if so, which groups of vets are hurting.

Angela Johnson



Beans asks, “What makes a veterans suicide so special?”

Answer: The left-wing media…

Dave Hardin

HAHAHAHAHAHA, only you bro

Comm Center Rat

To lend a bit of historical perspective to self-murder as a criminal act the following is taken from the Online Etymology Dictionary:

In Anglo-Latin, the term for “one who commits suicide” was felo-de-se, literally “one guilty concerning himself.”

In England, suicides were legally criminal if of age and sane, but not if judged to have been mentally deranged. The criminal ones were mutilated by stake and given degrading burials in highways until 1823.

In 1749, a suicide named Portier was dragged through the streets of Paris with his face to the ground, hung from the gallows by his feet, and then thrown into the sewers.

Regardless of the criminality of suicide, I believe it leads to the ultimate separation of one from God’s saving grace.


I fully agree that we need tort reform, personal injury lawyers have among them some of the worst bottom feeding parasites known to mankind. They make maggots seem cute and cuddly by comparison. Don’t get me wrong – not all of them are parasites, however it is those few who give the rest, you know the song… The whole opiod “crisis” has been with us since at least the mid/late 90’s. When I worked the street in EMS you would see the same faces time after time, sometimes multiple times a shift Narcan them, bring them to the ER, repeat a few hours later. All this “crisis” talk did was make it harder for people with legit chronic pain to get pain management without jumping through a ton of hoops because of irresponsible providers who threw pills at everybody in the name of patient satisfaction survey numbers. Am I cynical? Hell yeah. I have a family member who is an addict, who has been Narcaned multiple times, been a rehab failure multiple times, and is a drug dealer; as much it pains me to say, the best thing that could happen would be for him to OD and nobody to have any Narcan, that way he would finally get his wish. Experience with the opiod abusers is that if you warn them about a bad batch of stuff they will actively seek it out to try it – mindset being “it won’t happen to me, the others were lightweights…” Apologies… Read more »


No apologies necessary.

“The whole opiod “crisis” has been with us since at least the mid/late 90’s.”

And if you count heroin, etc. as “opioids” it has been with us a lot longer.

I use to hang out with a group of druggies; mostly active military (although some had been AWOL for some time). They were real proud of their shared “works”, an old glass hypodermic needle that they “cleaned” between users by rinsing under the tap. One of them mentioned one afternoon, whilst using the group “works”, “I am not addicted, I haven’t had any since nine o’clock this morning”. He wasn’t kidding.

They were nice enough people, and I liked them. Most of them were probably dead within ten years, but I don’t really know; I decided that wasn’t my scene.

All that 60’s “Age of Aquarius”, “if it feels good, do it!”, “Do your own thing” BS has killed thousands of people and ruined the lives of tens of thousands more.

Thus endeth my diatribe.

Comm Center Rat

From comedian Dave Chappelle’s Sticks and Stones 2019 Netflix special:

“This opioid crisis is a crisis. I see it every day. It’s ruining lives, it’s destroying families. Sadly, you know what it reminds me of seeing it? It reminds me of us. These white folks look exactly like us during the crack epidemic.”

“It’s wild because I have insight into how the white community must have felt watching the black community go through the scourge of crack. Because I don’t care either!”

“Hang in there whites! Just say no!” “What’s so hard about that?”


he’s as full of shit now as ever.

going with his scenario…”whites” elected leaders who spent upwards of $1.5 TRILLION dollars on increased LE, increased health care and increased education over the past 40 years. So he can just go STFU.

As for “opioid addiction”…hello! it has been here all along, as those of us who know history did not begin last night remember.

Comm Center Rat

The PDRofMA town I live in is 97.78% white. The folks I see suffering from opioid addiction are indeed white folks. Once they can’t get multiple doctors to write them Oxycontin prescriptions or they can no longer afford to buy oxy, they resort to using street heroin. The heroin is usually from Mexico and due to poor quality control its purity can result in an overdose or death with the first injection.

The opioid scourge is real in New England and in my neck of the woods it affects overwhelmingly white populations. So I agree with Chappelle: “Hang in there whites! Just say no!”

Disclaimer: I’m an old white guy who lives a alcohol, nicotine, and drug free lifestyle.


that addiction problem has been with us since the 1960s. We just did not see it because the blue collar economy hid it.

Now that the working white population is destroyed, we see it.

Just say no is so asinine it isn’t worth commenting on. Chappelle is so ignorant he usually isn’t worth commenting on, but here is my analysis…there will be no outpouring of wealth in the form of taxation for programs for the white working class. Having been squeezed of their tax value, their vote value, and their economic value, the party they voted for over the past 100 years has cast them out in favor of the rich, urban, POC, population. A group of people too small to tax out of the trillions needed to fight the opiate temptation.

Our culture died long ago. We just didn’t notice until a president willing to admit it came along.


LOL. Amen. I think Chris Rock has expressed similar sentiments, maybe Richard Pryor.


Dave: You wrote: “If you know anyone that can not “walk or work” without hydrocodone, please get that drug addict some help…If you or anyone you know, that is not dying of a terminal illness, is dependent on that kind of medication…seek help now.” Three Questions: (1) Is it your personal belief that those who suffer from Chronic Pain and use Opiods for relief are “Drug Addicts”? (2) What is your definition of “dependent”? Are we all not “dependent” on items for survival, such as food, water, air, etc.etc? (3) What type of “help” are you recommending to Chronic Pain Sufferers for relief? The term “Opiods” has been misconstrued. The “War On Opiods” is referring to the use of illegal street drugs, not prescribed by a responsible Physician, such as Fetynal and Heroin. Majority of those prescribed Controlled Pain Medication do not get a “High”. They get Relief. Big Difference. Just as any other substance, some Folks “abuse” what they have. Folks “abuse” Food and become Obese, which leads to Medical problems. Some Folks “abuse” Alcohol, which may possibly lead to DUIs…and taking innocent lives while driving. The CDC admitted that the Medical Community went overboard when they put out Guidelines on prescribing Controlled Substances. Doctors and Pharmacies suddenly became in the Spotlight because of Overdose Deaths of those who DID abused opiods to get high. Some Doctors and Pharmacists became scared that they were going to lose their licenses if they prescribed ANY Legal Controlled Medications. Drug Companies who… Read more »

Dave Hardin

(1) These two things are separate issues. I have chronic pain, so do millions of other people. If you can not stop using a drug without experiencing withdrawal symptoms and/or develop a psychological dependence on them, then you are an addict. It is possible to become an addict of a placebo. What causes you to take the drug has little to do with becoming an addict. Are there justifiable addictions? Sure. In this example however, if you are enrolled as a student at a University and can not walk or work without a drug…you need some professional help.

(2) see previous



Dave, I read the VA Pain Management site you provided. Still has not answered my question. What type of “help” are you recommending to those who suffer from Chronic Pain? Are you recommending an alternative to Controlled Medication? If so, what alternatives? I read the article that KoB provided about Pressley. Looks as if Pressley was in a motor accident that resulted in a fractured hip, broken pelvis and chronic back pain. Also read that he was prescribed opiates for his chronic pain and that the Doctor who treated him quit prescribing the medications because the VA was not paying the Doctor. I don’t know the entire background on Pressley’s treatment for his injuries. What I gathered is that he was injured in 2012 and most likely was treated for 7 years. Am speculating that in that timespan, he might have other alternatives for treatment, i.e. physical therapy, non-opiod medication, steriod injections, etc. etc. before given controlled substances for relief. Appreciate your perspectives. We handle pain and stress on different levels because we are all wired different. I don’t know how much pain Pressley was in. I don’t know how bad his withdrawals were. I can’t judge him because he took his life. I can’t judge his Mother as well. Do you know for a fact that she plans to “buy a condo” or was that sarcasm? I watched her interview with the Reporter as well as his Sister speaking out. There are alot of questions, i.e. if the VA… Read more »

Dave Hardin

Sorry for the delayed response, crazy busy around me. As someone who was a Federally Certified Substance Abuse Counselor that was once one of two that ran the inpatient treatment center at Camp Lejeune…I do not give recommendations for pain medication. I am not qualified to write a prescription for pain medication…I was educated and trained to clean up the mess they create. That link was my recommendation, anyone who is being subjected to long term narcotics for pain should be seeing a Pain Management Specialist. When we admitted patients…we took them off of all meds. All meds. No insulin, no blood pressure meds, no willow bark from uncle Berts tree, nuttin, nada, zip. They were monitored constantly, particularly for the first two weeks. I do not recall one patient leaving the treatment center 6 weeks later that was still taking pain medication. Not one. Could have been one, but I doubt it. Most insulin-dependent patients left with either no meds or a massively reduced dose. There were some exceptions but those were dependents or State Dept employees due to being type-A. I do not know how much “pain” Pressley was in either. That is a commonly used argument for enabling chemical dependency. Lets not address the obvious notion that Pressley was in crisis and the drugs he had been on were not the cause of his death. He was enabled, by the VA, by the school he attended, by his friends and to a large degree by his mother.… Read more »



Really appreciate you taking the time and sharing your insights and first hand knowledge on the topic.

Agree 100% that Addicts lie. Also agree about your aspects on enablers/codependancy.

And yes, anything done in excess or illegal is an ugly creature, whether it is drugs, alcohol, food, sex, exercise, etc.

This will be interesting to see how the lawsuit comes out when the rest of the story is unveiled. Am sure the VA Hospital will be investigated as well as Pressley’s and his Family’s history/story on his medication use that led to his suicide.

I still stand firm that there are those who need controlled medication to combat chronic pain, especially folks who have tried all other methods that have failed.

The majority of them are under a pain management regiment and are responsible adults. They should not be “punished” or labeled/sterotyped as a “drug addict” just because others have abused prescription or illegal street drugs.

Thank You again for your input.

Dave Hardin

As always, I appreciate your candor. Always thoughtful and engaging.

Be Well, and thank you for all you do.

Angela Johnson

Dave, all are responsible. But look who has the degrees, who has the license and who dictates. The federal government as in the VA. Federal government laws overreach and are forced upon regardless of whether they are in the best interest of the consumer or not. Yes they are.

Dave Hardin

I think I understand what you mean here. I agree the VA and the doctors are not faultless. I guess you could say security for that facility was too. There is plenty of fault to go around. The lawyers are at fault, I might even be at fault somehow. We also need to lay the blame at the feet of a grown man who took his own life. It is primarily his fault.


“One thing I know to be a universal truth, Addicts lie, they all lie, every last one of them. They lie to themselves and to those around them.” Dave, I’d heard that my entire adult life but only came to fully appreciate the brutal accuracy of it after an entire unit of my wife’s family, comprising three generations: my wife’s sister, that sister’s daughter and that daughter’s children, all became mired in the drug addiction lifestyle involving both prescription and street drugs. It took a while, but we soon learned that nothing, absolutely nothing they told us could be even remotely reliable. They lied about anything and everything but absolutely always about matters of money. The drugs ultimately destroyed my wife’s sister who died addicted, that sister’s daughter who committed suicide by drug overdose, a grandson now serving a sentence for murdering another drug dealer, a grandson who is now a far-gone addict and the one survivor, a grand-daughter who was the worst of the bunch but who had the good fortune to meet a gone-straight addict who got her off and has kept her off drugs for many years now. I could write here for the rest of the night citing examples of those people lying to my wife and me. It is what drug addicts do when they speak. If you’ve never experienced it firsthand, it is difficult to comprehend the total dishonesty of that lifestyle. I have also had extensive experience dealing with the other side of… Read more »


Neglected to mention that my wife spent thirty years as a certified legal assistant specializing in medical malpractice primarily in Texas and Florida. She worked both sides, both suing doctors and hospitals while at other firms defending them.

I can assure you that on both sides it’s all about the money. With the plaintiff firms it’s all about huge awards or settlements and with the defense firms it’s about running up the billable hours to the maximum before finally settling.

Angela Johnson

Ninja, I agree. Many of the medical issues point directly to the food supply. But it goes deeper than this. It points to the crop production. ARS working on research to grow crops with using multi-gene instead of single gene in order to grow the crops more environmentally resistant so less fungicides and pesticides will have to be used. Remember, it is about the dollar bill. It costs more and profits are much greater when the quality is less. In other words, it costs more to sabotage to create dysfunction than to do it right the first time to generate quality. Apply this to one’s health.



Thank You so much for that information as well as your other comments/inputs.

We all learn from one another when we share.


Dave wrote:

“Gary Pressley is responsible for killing her son, the people who have to provide the cash that she is demanding from the VA had nothing to do with it. You and I had nothing to do with it, but we pay the bill.”

“We pay the bill.”

Yep. My Tax $$$ pays VA Disability to Folks who created their OWN Disability because of their lifestyle, i.e. being Overweight/Obese because of poor decision making on consumption of food, i.e. overeating; Making a choice of NOT exercising when they are physically capable of doing that; overuse or abuse of alcohol products; going against a Doctors recommendation to discontinue use of tobacco products after having cardio health issues, etc.etc.

“Drug” and “Addiction” can be a number of things, not necessarily pain medication. Food in excess can be an “Addicting Drug”. Alcohol in excess can be an “Addicting Drug”. Exercising in excess can be an “Addicting Drug”.

Despising President Trump in excess can be an “Addicting Drug”.

Don’t believe me? Ask Adam, Maxine, Nancy, Jerry, Joy and others.



How many of us have seen commercials on TV where Law Firms encourage those who have
Mesothelioma, used Talcium Powder, “Round-Up”, JULES Vaping Products, Mesh for Hernia Repair, “Just-For-Men” products, to SUE those Companies?

How does one find a balance?

Tobacco Companies were sued by Families who lost love ones to Lung Cancer, even though smoking is a personal decision.

Where do we draw the line?

Comm Center Rat

You become like the 5 people you spend the most time with. CHOOSE CAREFULLY.


CCR: Don’t understand what you wrote.

Comm Center Rat

Misery loves company. Vets who are drug addicts or alcoholics are often in the company of other abusers. Sometimes to lead a clean life you need people who are already living a clean life to help. Those caught up in blaming the VA or a tobacco company for their illnesses and injuries should direct their focus inward. Too many people want to change the world before first changing themselves.

The 5 people in my life I spend the most time with are the same as me: alcohol, nicotine, and drug free. The balance for me personally is to not put poisons in my body. Choose your network of friends carefully because you’ll become like them.


Thank You, CCR, for the explanation.

Agree with what you wrote.

You wrote “Vets who are drug addicts or alcoholics are often in the company of other abusers.”

That is true in all cases, even for those who are not Veterans.


Also applies to those who use Food as a drug of their choice.


Which is one reason parolees and “rehabilitated” addicts are told not to hang around with their former friends. It’s also why your parents told you not to hang around with “that Billy Jones boy” or “that crowd”.

Amazing how old folk wisdom still applies better than the “wisdom” dispensed by our learned academicians.


I can almost understand mesothelioma. Face it: a lot of us (especially Navy, and much more so Engineering types) were exposed to asbestos even well into the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and abatement programs were for the most part a fucking joke.

On the other end, daytime TV and infomercials are jammed full of, “Call us and we’ll sue someone for you!” whether warranted or not.

Talcum powder? Seriously? Rechargeable batteries? (Got that email the other day.) Combat ear plugs? Stop. Hurt. Sides. Laughing.



Had completely forgotten about those Combat Ear Plug Lawsuit commercials.Thank You for the reminder.

Yep, Talcum/Baby Powder. Some poor soul had ovarian cancer and someone determined she got it from using Johnson and Johnson Baby powder on her privates. The company was sued.

The one that gets me is Law Firms looking for men who used “Just For Men”, the dark color because of scalp problems they encountered using that product.

Will be “looking” for the rechargable battery Lawsuit commercials. We need a fresh “charge” from those other lawsuit commercials.


BTW, Mesothelioma lawsuit advertisements are everywhere. You can’t hide from them. They are now featured in the VFW Magazine.

Thank You for sharing!


Best not to fool with and of it. Then one will not have to be bothered with it. Sleep, diet and exercise. All one needs. Yes. Unless one gets shot or hit by a car or some type of trauma of some kind. I have witnessed a guy almost paralyzed with no feeling in his legs get feeling back from moving. Now today he walks miles and miles. Also movement can also help the body heal itself even with a blood clot. Blood in blood vessel can route itself around the clot. Many people get mentally brainwashed by many in the media, medical professional, govt, and the other institutions. Sometimes people do not need all this crap that is pushed on them by the doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and insurance companies etc.


Suicide by it’s very nature leaves a ton of people asking why it happened, and looking for someone to blame in its aftermath. My own personal belief on it, having experienced the aftermath of it, and attempts on part of people I knew is that there is ultimately only one person to blame. That is the one who took their life. I have PTSD, I have stared off into that lonely black abyss of hopelessness and despair. I’m here today, because I refused to put those I loved through that hell. I was still a freaking mess, and it took a long time for me to get past that. Still a bumpy ass road, but I am still here. I get mad at those who didn’t fight through it, but I wont judge them as harshly as the ones left behind want to judge everyone else for what they did. Veterans suicide is such a hot topic though. Like talking about social security now, with the “22 a day” movement (more like 16-18). Veterans suicide is 1.5% above the national average, not exactly a shocker, but there is more to it. Combat Veterans are actually less likely to kill themselves than non deployed. Same with combat arms vs non ca. Non CA has a higher rate. The demographics line up almost exactly to society as a whole otherwise, with the most suicides occurring with older bastards like myself. (The over 50 crowd) Suicide sucks, but those making a living off… Read more »


Veteran demographics are dramatically different than that of the general population: 91+% male, and much older in general than the US non-veteran population. That has a huge effect on the overall veteran suicide rate, and must be taken into account if you want to argue the issue. My sense is that the press never even attempts to account for that difference.

The overall male veteran suicide rate is actually lower than a demographically equivalent group of nonveterans. And that fact – and the overall male veteran suicide rate – is in turn absolutely meaningless as well, because some male veteran subgroups are indeed doing better than the comparable nonveteran group while others are doing much worse.


There is no way to prevent veteran suicides because there is no way to prevent suicides generally. Veterans make up a significant part of our citizenry. Ergo, some people who had military service will
off themselves.

With regard to the subject vet, he obviously had become addicted to opioids. The prescriptions for them, as I have experienced, have become very restricted under federal drug regs. Docs will switch patients to less addictive pain killers or cut them off if they sense abuse.


I fully agree with you Dave. The whole veteran suicide thing is manufactured to do two things: enrich the VA (at least the mental health wing of it) and to denigrate all veterans. Just saw a piece on Ace of Spades on Sunday saying the VA put out a press release that 60,000 vets had committed suicide over a 10 year period – MORE THAN THE # DEATHS IN VIETNAM! Doing the math: – 60,000 divided by 10 years = 6000/year. – 6000 divided by veteran population of 18 million = 0.00033. = 0.033% of veterans committing suicide per year. – In 2017, there were 47,000 suicides in the US general population of 325,000,000. Dividing = 0.00145 or 0.145% of the population. This is 4.4 times higher than the veteran suicides. I’ve done deep dives on the VA’s 2012 and 2005-2016 (plus update) Suicide Data Reports and there is some serious statistical hijinks going on. If you understand statistics, it can be figured out. However, the simple calculation above tells the real story. There is no veteran suicide crisis. Follow the money; the VA and others looking to profit from the “crisis” do quite well. It also plays well into the hands of the anti-military types who routinely say we vets are damaged goods. The same is true of the “homeless veteran” crisis”. Has anyone seen a homeless vet study/count where they ask for a DD214? Nope. The PTSD “crisis” is a little more complex, but follow the money to… Read more »

Dave Hardin

Shhh…never confuse people with facts when they have already made up their minds.


Follow up: the 2012 Suicide Data Report, which started the 22/day meme, was honest about the limitations of the study. Those limitations severely question the 22/day meme. The subsequent VA studies not so much.


Of course the VA didn’t question it. It uses that number to request addtional money from Congress. If it’s BS, well, . . . .


I’ll be posing a question to the combat vets here, especially the Vietnam combat vets. The VA suicide studies consistently indicate the biggest group of veteran suicides is in the over 55 year old group (different studies have it at 59%-70%). So why is this the case? I’m a Nam combat vet and if I haven’t committed suicide in the last 50 years because of my memories, I sure as hell ain’t going to do it now. I have a couple theories why the over 55 crowd has higher suicide rates, but I am curious as to what other vets think.

Comm Center Rat

aGrimm I’m not a Vietnam vet although I’m over age 55. I did serve as a REMF during OEF and OIF, but I’m not a combat vet (except to the VA).

I think older vets kill themselves primarily due to chronically poor health which negatively impacts their quality of life. They become less mobile and more isolated from society, especially if they are single or a widower. Some commit suicide after a divorce from a long time spouse or because they’ve experienced severe financial hardship late in life. I’ve also met many older veterans who still use illegal drugs and sometimes they OD and die.


” due to chronically poor health which negatively impacts their quality of life.”

That’s a biggie. Knew an 80+ vet; wife died, almost totally blind, couldn’t walk unaided, incontinent, mind going, etc. As he told me, he just wasn’t enjoying life anymore. So he decided to die. Quit eating, frequently called out to his dead wife to come get him. Took him about two weeks. Rough on the family.

Now I would call that suicide, by the only method he could use. I am sure there are more like him that also won’t show up in anyone’s statistics.


aGrimm and CCR: According to this 20 September 2019 Stars and Stripes article, “the Department of Veteran Affairs has altered how it calculates the average number of veteran suicides each day, meaning the 20-per-day statistic (widely known and often cited by elected officials) has changed to 17.” “The VA explained that it removed servicemembers, as well as former National Guard and Reserve members who were never federally activated, from its count.” “There were an average of 2.5 suicide deaths per day in 2017 among National Guard and Reserve members who were never federally activated, the report shows. The report doesn’t include active-duty servicemember suicides. The VA said in a statement the Department of Defense would publish a separate report focusing on those deaths.” “This change was necessary because these groups are unique and do not all qualify for the same benefits and services, therefore they require individualized outreach strategies,” the VA said in a statement.” “It was revealed last year that the 20-per-day statistic was misunderstood and included the deaths of active-duty servicemembers and members of the Guard and Reserve, not just veterans.” “The new report shows that suicide among veterans continues to be higher than the rest of the population. The suicide rate among male veterans was 1.3 times the rate for other adult men in 2017. For women, the contrast is even more stark. The rate among female veterans was 2.2 times the rate for other adult women that year.” “While younger veterans account for the highest… Read more »


The suicide rate among male veterans was 1.3 times the rate for other adult men in 2017.

Of course it is. But alone, that fact is misleading as hell – IMO, deliberately so. It’s a “sound bite” designed to promote sympathy and get additional $$$ from Congress.

As a group, male veterans are substantially older than “other adult men” in the US. Suicide rates rise with age as infirmity, financial problems, outliving peers and spouses, and other factors begin to take their toll.

When the expected male veteran suicide rate is calculated using nonveteran demographic subgroup suicide rates but the known veteran demographic distribution, the observed US male veteran suicide rate is actually somewhat lower than should be expected given the actual demographic distribution. And even that fact is meaningless, because some male veteran subgroups are doing substantially better than their nonveteran peers – while others are doing far worse. Older male vets are doing better than their nonveteran peers, while youger male vets are hurting.

The situation is not as good among female vets. Analyzing the numbers for female vets does seem to indiate a neary across-the-board issue there.


Thank You, Hondo, for sharing this.

My heart still goes out to those who struggle with depression, drug, alcohol, food abuse, mental illness and to those families that have to deal with a family member taking their own lives.

As shared, we are all wired different. Some are stronger than others. Some face their shortcomings or stress and try to overcome it through treatment programs, Church and Faith of their choice, etc. etc.

Others may not have the financial means to seek help or may choose to isolate themselves with their demons.

We don’t know what others think or feel unless they truly open themselves up to others. Mental illness is a disease, just as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, etc. that can be treated if one wants to be treated and can get proper treatment for their afflictions.

The ninja family will continue to have compassion and understanding for those who are suffering and will continue praying for those in need.


I have no stats. I have never considered suicide, but a couple years ago I had a realization of, “Oh, shit. This darkness is why some choose to take their own lives.” That in itself was frightening enough.
If you think you need help…
then you probably need help.

Peace to all.
(Except POS’s. WTF with moobs man?)

3/10/MED/b out.

Angela Johnson

Everyone have a nice weekend. I am not sure how I arrived on this blog; but, I did. 🇺🇸🗽😊


Thank You, Angela. You provided great feedback on the topic.

Hope you return soon. The folks here are great.

Hope you have a great weekend as well!


Dave Hardin

Glad to have you, I enjoy honest direct dialog.


Thanks for finding us. Please come back often!


Early in this thread, 5th/77th FA posted a link to a news report on this incident. Several things caught my eye: 1) “He started saying, ‘Mama, I don’t have the fight in me anymore,'” [Mother] Wilson said. Just days later, the family learned Pressley was going to end his life. Not sure what the law is in Georgia, but here in Florida, that is a sure commitment to a mental health facility under what Florida calls “the Baker Act.” (FS 394) Yet the family waited days until he was in the parking lot of the VA to raise the alarm? 2) “He told his girlfriend he was going to do it in the parking lot, so they could find his body, so somebody can pay attention to what’s happening, so other vets do not have to go through this,” Wilson said. There is no time frame for this, but if Pressley called his girlfriend from the parking lot of the VA, there was at least one more call before or after that call where his family or his girlfriend could have been calling the police. Not the VA….the police. 3) If your loved one was calling to tell you that they were preparing to kill themselves, would you be staying at home / work, or running out the door to get to them while keeping them on the phone? I’m with Dave on this one. This is not the fault of the VA. The man made a decision – a… Read more »


Like I said, always follow the money, theoretical or hard cash.

I do hope that this gets tossed out good and hard.

Bobby Elrod

If you read articles from when it happened. The family called the VA Hospital front desk and told them. The front desk refused to send someone out to the parking lot to look for him.

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