I regret to bring you the sad news of the death of one of our IVAW members, Sammantha Owen-Ewing.
Last Monday, November 26, Sammantha Owen-Ewing, one of IVAW's newest members, the wife of my friend Scott, and a former Army medic like me, committed suicide in her Rhode Island home. Sammantha was only 20 years old, and in that short time had been an Army medic training to become a nurse while stationed at Walter Reed, then became a patient herself in Walter Reed's mental health ward. In June, she married Scott Ewing, also an IVAW member, and was discharged from the Army. Despite an uphill battle to receive care from the VA, things seemed to be looking up; she was getting settled into life in Rhode Island, planned to continue her medical career, and was becoming active in Iraq Veterans Against the War. Although most of us were never fortunate enough to know Sammantha, she was one of us and we mourn her passing.
It is impossible to sum up the life of a person, their personality and how much they meant to the people who loved them, in a few short lines. In her obituary, Sammantha was described as "sweet, thoughtful, and loving. She brought joy to the lives of those around her." I'm sorry I will never meet Sammantha and my deepest condolences go out to her family. I know that many IVAW members have suffered through depression, PTSD, and other forms of internal anguish, and many of us still deal with these things on a daily basis.
IVAW has set up a memorial fund on behalf of Sammantha Owen-Ewing to help her family offset her funeral costs. We will be accepting donations through the end of December, if you'd like to make a donation, go to www.ivaw.org/memorialfund.
Suicide is a very real threat, especially for veterans. A recent CBS news investigation found that in 2005, veterans were twice as likely to commit suicide as non-vets, with 120 veteran suicides each week. Those of us who are between the ages of 20-24 have the highest rate of suicides, between 2 – 4 times higher than our civilian peers. For many veterans, the fighting doesn't end once we return from a war zone or get discharged from the military. If you are a veteran, or have a loved one who is, please be aware of the following resources that can offer help to those suffering from PTSD, depression, and other forms of mental suffering.
The Wounded Warrior Call-Center 1-877-487-6299 – This is a hotline for injured, wounded, or ill former and current Marines, Sailors and their family members. They offer information, resources, and advocacy for men and women suffering from either physical or psychological wounds.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – By calling and pressing "1" you will be connected with round-the-clock access to mental health professionals who focus solely on helping veterans.
SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) http://www.save.org/ – This non-profit's mission is to prevent suicide through public awareness and education, reduce stigma, and serve as a resource for those touched by suicide.
Vets 4 Vets, (520) 319-5500, http://www.vets4vets.us/ – Vets 4 Vets is a peer support group for recent veterans. In weekend workshops and local groups, veterans talk and listen to each other to help heal from negative wartime and military experiences. Contact them to find out about upcoming workshops.
National Veterans Foundation, 1-888-777-4443, http://www.nvf.org/ – This non-profit, non-governmental organization gives assistance, information and resources to veterans from all military branches.
Peace,Kelly DoughertyFormer Sergeant, Army National Guard Executive Director Iraq Veterans Against the War
P.S. Cards may be sent to Scott Ewing c/o IVAW: IVAWPO Box 8296Philadelphia, PA 19101
-- submitted by Laura Kent