Bridging the Gap: To Combat Veterans Suicide, Cultural Change Needed

In April, my Army unit that served in Afghanistan passed a dark milestone: we’ve now lost more men to suicide than we lost in combat. During a 485-day deployment in 2006-2007, a single member of our platoon was killed, though many, myself included, were wounded—we had an 85 percent casualty rate. But since returning home, three members of my platoon have taken their own lives.

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Evan West
How not to look like an idiot at the range.

In our last installment, we talked about buying a gun.  Assuming you are now the proud owner of a new bang stick, you are ready for some trigger time. It is important to realize that owning a pistol and being proficient with it are two different things.  In fact, they are the difference between life and death.  The only way to become comfortable with your steel is to go to the range.

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Evan West
Make the VA Accountable

After watching scandal after scandal unfold at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs over the past several years, I have a single overriding question: When will Washington step up to address the problems of this dysfunctional department?

In fact, a viable solution is right now awaiting action in the U.S. Senate — the VA Accountability Act of 2015, a bipartisan bill passed by the House in July to hold VA employees accountable for poor performance. It’s time for the Senate to follow suit to put these much-needed reforms to work on behalf of veterans.

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Evan West
People You Might Encounter at the Range.

In our last installment, we talked about buying a gun.  Assuming you are now the proud owner of a new bang stick, you are ready for some trigger time. It is important to realize that owning a pistol and being proficient with it are two different things.  In fact, they are the difference between life and death.  The only way to become comfortable with your steel is to go to the range.

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Evan West
Talkers vs. doers: Time to ignore the Kaepernicks of the world

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick declined to stand for the national anthem, to protest what he described as a nation that “oppresses” its minority populations, he illustrated the deep division in American life in 2016.

But probably not in the way he intended to. Kaepernick’s ostentatious and self-aggrandizing stunt underscores how we’re now divided into a nation of Talkers — those who claim to see a problem and seek to launch an endless “conversation” about it — and a nation of Doers — those who see a problem and take action to address it.

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Evan West