It is apparent that most soldier suicide rates are impacted by high levels of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This disorder, along with many other mental illnesses, develops due to the combat related trauma that soldiers and veterans experience.
Veteran Affairs Medical Center is home to more than 8.3 million Veterans each year. It is a place for these military vets who suffer from mental disorders to feel safe and cared for, not mocked and ridiculed.
Robin Paul, a VA manger and licensed social worker from Indianapolis, sent out an email mocking mental health problems by showing an image of a combat veteran posing as a Christmas elf ready to hang himself with Christmas lights with the caption: “Caught in the act of suicidal behavior (trying to hang himself from an electrical cord).”
Another image Paul included in her email shows an elf next to a post-it note that reads, “Out of XANAX – please help!” Above the photograph her caption says: “Self-medicating for mental health issues when a CNS would not give him his requested script.”
A third image shows the elf looking between the legs of a female doll with a caption that says: “Trying his skills as a primary care provider (doing a pap).”
When first approached with this information, Paul responded, “Oh my goodness.” According to Opposing Views, a clinic spokesperson released a statement on Paul’s behalf to the Indianapolis Star that said:
I would like to sincerely apologize for the email message and I take full responsibility for this poor judgment. I have put my heart and soul into my work with Veterans for many years. I hold all Veterans and military personnel in the highest regard and am deeply remorseful for any hurt this may have caused.
Following the 2014 VA scandal, in which 1,000 veterans may have died due to lack of care and treatment from staff members at Veteran Affairs medical centers, Congress has recently passed two laws assuring better health care for soldiers and veterans returning to the states.
The first legislation, The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for Americans Veterans Act, allows Veteran’s Affairs to adopt new ways to reduce suicide rates, and provide student loan reliefs for psychiatrists who are willing to care for returning soldiers and veterans. The second legislation passed is the Sexton Act, which requires mandatory health screening for all soldiers.
It is unknown what kind or if any punishment has been given for Paul’s act, but she is still currently employed at the hospital and continues to manage the clinic, with an annual salary of $79,916.