Supporting Military Veterans and their Families

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On Memorial Day we remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country and we honor the men and women who have died protecting us at home and abroad. But we must also honor and remember the men and women who have returned from the battlefield, with scars seen and unseen, many that require months or sometimes years of rehabilitation.

In addition to the physical injuries, there are the emotional, mental and psychological wounds.  Many of us know that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has a profound effect on the mental state of our troops. According to the PTSD Foundation of America, nearly one-third of returning troops are diagnosed with severe PTSD symptoms and one in five active duty troops attempt suicide each day. Many of these troops are suffering from depression and do not seek the help they need. With some veterans contemplating suicide as the only way to ease their pain, we must ensure that our veterans are getting all of the help and services they need. Whether the injuries they have suffered require them to receive treatment such as counseling, physical rehabilitation, group therapy or in some cases even palliative care, our veterans deserve to feel that their lives are worth living.

Dr. Mitchell Wallin, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence, has worked for years with veterans and has testified  in front of the Maryland General Assembly on  the dangers of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) among veterans:

“I have personally cared for many military veterans with terminal medical conditions that have become depressed and suicidal. Stabilization of their mood and cognitive abilities is possible after appropriate medical and psychological therapy.  It is paradoxical that we spend significant time and resources trying to prevent suicide in military veterans and the general public but through the proposed bill, we would give these patients a way to quickly take their life.”

 We must do better by our veterans and PAS is not the answer. The legislation filed in Maryland had no requirement that patients receive a psychological evaluation before doctors can authorize physician-assisted suicide. We know that patients with a terminal diagnosis already have much higher rates of depression and combined with the already high suicide attempt rates among veterans this bill offers a dangerous proposition  that is wrong for Maryland.

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