How a Grieving Veteran Mom is Helping the Community

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When Janos “John” Lutz entered the Marine Corps after graduating from high school, he was 19 years old. He was eager to serve his nation in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was sent to the front lines in Iraq, just as he had wanted.

Janine Lutz remembers her son calling her from the battle zone for the first time. He was gloomy when he informed her about the car bomb explosion he had witnessed earlier that day. He claimed they were the first ones on the scene. There were body bits all over the place. He replied that he was OK and that it was all part of his job. He was now a Marine, and Marines do things like this.

But, just before hanging up, he abruptly reduced his voice to a barely audible whisper, so quiet that no one could hear him. He muttered under his breath, “Be cautious what you ask for.” It was the first time she’d heard a break in his voice since he’d joined the army, a terrible reminder of how real her son’s yearning had become.

But his stint in Iraq was nothing in comparison to his next mission in Afghanistan, where he participated in one of the war’s major military offensives. His best friend was killed during the operation in July 2009. He bled to death at the hands of Lutz. His fellow Marines from Echo Company’s second platoon dragged his body to the medical chopper in the hopes of getting him help. Lutz saw more horror, which his mom would only hear about from other Marines.

Lutz was haunted by nightmares and suffering from injuries sustained in a combat explosion when he returned to the US a year later. He was given a variety of medications at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He had attempted suicide and was hooked on anti-anxiety medicine when he came home to Davie, Florida. He attempted to take the edge off with medicines, and for a time, it looked as though he was on the mend. In January 2013, he died from an overdose on morphine and a strong sedative, leaving a message on his door that read, “Do not resuscitate.” He was only 24 years old.

In the US, over 17 veterans commit suicide every day. According to the Florida Department of Veteran Affairs, 550 veterans committed suicide in Florida in 2019. Janine Lutz claims that engaging with other veterans in their community is the answer. She established the Cpl. Janos V. Lutz Live to Tell Foundation, which provides services for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She hosts a Broward Chapter meeting of “Buddies Up” once a month when veterans and first-responders (both of whom suffer from PTSD) assist one another. She has organized similar events throughout the country in an RV, and she’s also created an app for veterans to interact with one another.

Since the late 2000s, the US Department of Veterans Affairs has been taking steps to address the issue. This was when veteran suicide rates began to rise. The VA has been forced to attempt new ways and even seek out specialists around the world in order to discover answers as a result of the pandemic. Even still, many veterans and their families have concerns about how the VA handles PTSD and other war-related ailments.

Janine didn’t find out until after her son died that VA physicians had prescribed a mix of medicines so frequent that members of the military community she interacted with had dubbed the treatment “Zombie Dope.”

He was able to sleep with the aid of one medication. Another helped to alleviate the discomfort. Anxiety was treated with another drug. Another reason was that he was depressed. The VA prescribed benzodiazepines, which he was not supposed to take, according to his medical records. Suicide ideation is one of the benzodiazepine withdrawal effects.

Janine claims that the VA’s practice of giving veterans pills for every ailment is unethical. Instead of addressing the source of the problem, they believe that a pill will solve their difficulties. She says it’s important to talk about what they went through in the war and help them process it with fellow warfighters. That is a better solution than a psychiatrist who has never experienced combat.

According to the Watson Institute at Brown University, between 1.9 and 3 million American personnel served in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many of them deploying several times.

SOURCEBob Casino

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