Suicide While on Active-Duty

Four sailors in the same command have taken their lives in less than a month (October 29 – November 26) this year. In April, three sailors stationed on the USS George Washington died from suicide.

You might have thought the Brandon Act, which enables a member of the armed forces to “trigger a referral of the member by a commanding officer or supervisor for a mental health evaluation” might have made a difference. Especially since “it requires a commanding officer or supervisor to make such referral as soon as practicable following disclosure by the member.” Importantly, the Act also protects the confidentiality of the member asking for a referral.

The Brandon Act was passed into law in December of 2021. Unfortunately, the Navy has not implemented it. Almost a year has gone by since the law was put into effect. As recently as last month, word was that it would be implemented March of 2023.

You have to ask how many more lives will be lost?

Here at the NVF, our Lifeline for Vets crisis and information hotline fields calls from active duty men and women and Veterans of all wars. The calls come in at all hours from all over the country and wherever our armed forces are deployed internationally. We can’t get them all. Every person on our staff is mindful of the ones we miss.

Expanding the hours of our crisis and information hotline to 24/7 requires additional funding. Not easy in these times. The other unsettling piece is how well we are known. The NVF has been doing this work for over 37 years. Raising awareness in a culture noisy with rancorous shouts can be done in two ways: a public relations campaign and word-of-mouth. Charity Navigator has designated the National Veterans Foundation as a four-star charity. That means that our funding goes to programs first and that there is no budget for PR.

We will continue to serve Veterans and their families while raising awareness with an online presence and as many “ambassadors” as we can get. If you can help us with either, know that you have our gratitude and the gratitude of those we serve. Donate securely online at

If you know a Vet who needs help, here’s our Lifeline for Vets toll-free number: 888.777.4443.

You can be a part of our mission to help Veterans by making a tax-deductible donation!

About the Author

Shad Meshad

As a U.S. Army Medical Service Officer in Vietnam in 1970, Shad Meshad began pioneering treatment techniques for what would later become known as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He is the founder of the National Veterans Foundation and founder and co-author of the VA’s Vet Center Program.


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