Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn't Free

28 January 2015

Fruit Salad

   Fruit salad.  No, don't worry, I'm not talking about Michelle Obama's student lunch menu.  Although, on second thought, fruit salad is tasty (and nutritious I think) so it probably isn't recommended for school students.  But, once again I'm not talking about something you eat.  No, instead I'm talking about what military members refer to for the medals they wear when in their dress uniforms.  I'm going to tie this in to the Clay Hunt SAV Act and why it needs to be passed by the senate and signed by the president. 
   As you all know by now, my main objective right now is to ensure the Clay Hunt SAV Act becomes reality.  After seeing it held up by one vote in December, I'm going with a full court press now.  So, I looked at what Clay Hunt SAV actually will do for Veterans.  The main points of the act are listed by IAVA here. When you look at it, you would think a lot of this is common sense.  Of course, government doesn't really use a lot of common sense (I know...shocking) so, that's part of the reason why Clay Hunt needs to be passed.  For instance, one of the parts of the Clay Hunt SAV Act is to provide a one stop, interactive website of available resources.  Now, everyone knows the internet is a fantastic resource for grouping things together to make a "one stop" or "one click" website where you can find all the information about a topic.  Lets make that topic Veteran suicide prevention.  The VA could easily list all their different programs, along with other non governmental organization programs, on one website. They could even use the same site for Department of Defense for active duty Military.  Sounds easy enough, especially if its already supposed to be that way. 
   Yeah, that's right, there is already supposed to be a "one stop" link/webpage for the VA for mental health, to include suicide prevention, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). 
   According to the Interagency Task Force on Military and Veteran Mental Health 2013 Annual Report, one of their recommendations was to create a "one stop" resource for Veterans and Active Duty Military personnel.  That was just a recommendation though.  That's why we need Clay Hunt SAV Act passed and signed into law.  Then, it isn't a recommendation.  Its something that has to be done.  And, let me tell you, it needs to be done.  I decided to search for programs by the VA on suicide prevention.  I stopped looking at web pages after four different pages had totally different VA programs (including programs for homeless Veterans, suicide prevention, PTSD, TBI, etc).  The most comprehensive (and we're stretching the definition of comprehensive) was actually a Health and Human Services (HHS) page.  I found this page while perusing the Interagency Task Force on Military and Veteran Mental Health 2013 Annual Report. I found a link in the report for the website, which was "HHS launched to provide a one-stop source for information and resources on mental health issues for Veterans and the general public."  The basic problem with this approach is its too general.  The average citizen of the United States doesn't deal with the memory of watching a friend get blown to hell.  The average taxpayer doesn't worry about the same thing Veterans with PTSD worry about because they (the average taxpayer) have never been in a situation that has turned deadly in seconds flat.  I know because there is only 1% of the U.S. citizens who have dealt with these issues.  They are our Military service members and our Veterans.  Sorry, one size fits all doesn't work in this situation. Veterans need specialized care, especially specialized mental health care.  That's why we have the VA, right? 
   Now, that's one reason why the Clay Hunt Suicide prevention for American Veterans Act has to be passed.  Now, onto the fruit salad.
   The reference to fruit salad for medals is because they are usually bright, multi colored thingies.  They even have one for graduating Basic Combat Training.  I used to refuse to wear it because, as I told my platoon sergeant who wanted to know why I wasn't wearing my dress greens properly, "I'm wearing the uniform, I don't need a medal, I know I graduated Basic."  Well, anyway, the point is that a lot of awards and medals in the military are for the purpose of just making the "fruit salad" look good for soldiers with one 1 stripe on their shoulder. 
   Well, its a governmental thing too.  While reading the interagency report it stated "DoD, VA and HHS have on-going successful national campaigns which focus on overcoming the negative attitudes associated with mental health and substance use concerns and seeking treatment."  It then went on to state that one of their "successful" multi media programs won three awards in 2013.  Another public awareness campaign garnered 50 awards.  Awards look good but, if this is what the government is basing success on, then I would rather they throw out all their "fruit salad" for just one Veteran who they saved.  No where in any of the reports I read did I see any statistics on how the "Real Warriors" or "make the Connection" ad campaign saved any lives.  They look good.  I have some of the real warriors literature.  It's high quality stuff.  I don't know if any of it has ever made a difference to a service member contemplating suicide.  I know they have used NASCAR drivers and actors for "Make the Connection" ads but, unless you have a "one stop" website, how many connections does a Veteran have to make to get help?   All good points to bring up to your senators when you call them to tell them to pass S 167 (the Clay Hunt SAV Act).  
That is all.


  1. Well, I have tried to login to the DOD Electronic One Stop site for Vets and active Duty Military. It is only somewhat useful.

    1. Did you have to call any number or go in person to a VAMC? Just wondering cuz I have heard sometimes with Military One Click you have to call VAMC. Thank you for reading and your comment Sir

  2. "Awards look good but, if this is what the government is basing success on, then I would rather they throw out all their "fruit salad" for just one Veteran who they saved"
    That says is all right there. Thank you Soldier!

  3. Thank you for helping us become aware of this. This may seem small to mainstream media and not get any coverage, but it is HUGE for Vets and their families.