Local News

Military veteran suicide update

06 veteransuicideprevention4The 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report includes the most recent analysis of veteran suicide data from 2005 to 2017. The report presents complex suicide data in a practical way, conveys the key findings in clear terms, and highlights the data-driven initiatives that VA and its partners have implemented to prevent veteran suicide. This detailed report is available to the public at VASPDataRequest@va.gov.

The most recent state-level data includes veteran suicide data from 2005 through 2017. The State Data Appendix includes a comparative analysis of suicide rates for veterans and the general adult population. North Carolina has seen a gradual increase in veteran suicides, from 188 in 2005 to 212 in 2017. The Department of Veterans Affairs said it’s important to note that suicide is a complex issue with a multitude of contributing factors — and there is no single explanation for disparities in veteran suicide rates among the different states.

There is one statistic that has been widely quoted in the veteran community, that an estimated 22 veterans a day commit suicide. The statistic, some contend, can be misunderstood. This figure comes from the VA’s 2012 Suicide Data Report, which analyzed the death certificates of 21 states from 1999 to 2011. The report, as cited by The Washington Post, warned that “it is recommended that the estimated number of veterans be interpreted with caution due to the use of data from a sample of states and existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.”

A more recent study, which surveyed 1.3 million veterans, found that “Between 2001 and 2009, there were 1,650 deployed veteran deaths and 7,703 nondeployed veteran deaths. Of those, 351 were suicides among veterans who had been deployed and 1,517 suicides among nondeployed veterans. That means over nine years, there was not quite one veteran suicide a day,” according to The Washington Post. The rate of suicide was, as The Los Angeles Times reported, “…slightly higher among veterans who never deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq, suggesting that the causes extend beyond the trauma of war.”

As the largest national analysis of veteran suicide rates, the VA report examines veterans suicide rates by age, gender and method, suicide rates among veterans compared with rates in the non-veteran population and suicide rates among veterans who use VHA health care compared with those who do not. “The aggregate remains about 20 suicide deaths per day … including the average of 16.8 veterans who died by suicide in 2017,” reported Richard A. Stone, VA Under-Secretary for Health.

Suicide is preventable, and with the release of the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report, the VA urges all Americans to take action to prevent suicide. Learn more about veteran suicide prevention efforts at www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention. If you are a veteran in crisis — or you’re concerned about one — free, confidential support is available 24/7. Call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, send a text message to 838255.

Fayetteville’s Community Foundation is nearly 40

05 06 ccf logo verticalThe Cumberland Community Foundation is a partnership of donors, nonprofit organizations, and the community working together to find solutions to pressing community needs. The community foundation manages more than 500 different charitable donor funds and endowments of more than 30 local nonprofit organizations. The charitable foundation was established in 1980 by a significant financial gift provided by Dr. Lucile West Hutaff. It was her goodwill toward humanity that laid the foundation for a community legacy of philanthropy.

The foundation facilitates personalized and endowed individual, family and corporate philanthropic contributions. Under CCF’s umbrella tax-exempt status, donors may create ‘’family endowments’’ through an array of fund options. As a 501c3 charitable organization, CCF offers maximum tax advantages available to donors. It is audited annually and certified in compliance by the National Standards Board. For the year ending June 30 of last year, the foundation’s assets totaled $89 million. Grants paid since 1980 amounted to $53 million, while gifts received since then totaled $108 million.

The Cumberland County charitable fund is doling out a record-breaking $847,147 in grants this coming year, board president Kelly Puryear announced at the agency’s annual Founders and Friends Banquet last month. He said the grants being awarded are the most ever in the foundation’s 39 years. He also noted that the foundation decided 10 years ago to double its endowment assets to $100 million by 2020. “Now we are at $95 million,” Puryear said.

The largest of the 2020 grants is $250,000 for the Cumberland County Partnership for Children. It will help provide seed money for a program that will send nurses to the homes of families with newborns. Partnership for Children President Mary Sonnenberg said the program would be offered to the parents of every newborn in Cumberland County. Visiting nurses will make sure the mothers and their newborns are doing well in the first few weeks after birth. Sonnenberg noted that the county health department provides some home visitations but that “it only serves a very small number of families each year. Babies don’t come with instruction books,” she added, “and when they are born, you never know what risk factors might be there.”

Another significant community foundation grant is being made to the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. One hundred thousand dollars will provide funding for the museum to upgrade exhibits and add digital technology. The community foundation emphasized that small gifts are just as important to recipients. A $1,000 grant was gifted to All About Fitness Inc. for boot camp equipment needed to fight obesity. Board member Eva Williams announced the winner of the 2019 Mary Lynn Bryan Leadership Award went to Jesse H. Byrd Jr. He was nominated by Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation for leadership of its endowment campaigns.

During the event, Puryear acknowledged the service of two outgoing CCF board members, Ray Manning and Lynn Legatski. He welcomed two new board members, Carol “Lani” Dickey and Melissa Short.

Green Beret pardoned by the president

05 01 major goldstyn portraitPresident Donald Trump intervened in three military justice cases involving war-crimes accusations, issuing two full pardons that will prevent the Pentagon from pursuing future charges against the individuals involved. The service members involved were notified by Trump over the phone, said the lawyers who represent Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn and former Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, a Navy SEAL. Golsteyn faced a murder trial at Fort Bragg, scheduled for next year, while Gallagher was recently acquitted of murder and convicted of posing with the corpse of an Islamic State fighter in Iraq. Golsteyn was a captain with Fort Bragg’s 3rd Special Forces Group. He is accused of killing an unarmed Afghan national but says the killing was justified under the wartime conditions in Afghanistan because the man was thought to be an insurgent who made a bomb that killed two Marines.
In a statement, Phillip Stackhouse, who is Golsteyn’s civilian lawyer, said Golsteyn’s family is “profoundly grateful” that Trump “ended the dubious, long-delayed prosecution of the decorated Green Beret.”

05 02 sheriff wrightThree U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that some commanders have raised concerns that Trump’s move will undermine the military justice system.

Is Sheriff Ennis Wright holding immigrants for ICE?

In the 2018 election, North Carolina voters elected new sheriffs in North Carolina’s seven largest counties. Cumberland County Sheriff Ennis Wright was one of them. Voters knocked off at least two longtime incumbents, one of whom held the position for nearly 25 years. Wright became an officially elected sheriff after serving for two years as an appointee following the retirement of Moose Butler.

Sheriffs in North Carolina manage local jails. Some of them ignore requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement to detain previously arrested immigrants in 05 03 PCH Development 2the country illegally so the agency can apprehend and deport them.

“We have not had any request for an ICE detention,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Sean Swain. “The sheriff is not going to hold anyone in the detention center any longer than they are required by the N.C. courts.”

Newly-elected Sheriff Garry McFadden of Mecklenburg County, who has been one of the most outspoken of the new sheriffs in opposition to ICE demands, told reporters that the provision was “off the table.”

Downtown high-rise construction is on hold

The construction project along the 400-block of Hay Street may appear to be at a standstill.  But development of the multi-million-dollar buildings in front Segra Stadium continues. The tower crane that was used to stabilize construction of the five-story parking deck was taken down several weeks ago. It will eventually be replaced by a larger crane, but it isn’t needed yet, according to Prince Charles Holdings Project Manager Jordan Jones. PCH is a major developer in downtown’s projects. “We are getting components installed inside the garage and around the site in preparation for going vertical,” he said. “This is a long and very complicated construction process.”

05 04 Ted MohnPCH plans to build two structures atop the garage, a five-story hotel and a seven-story office building. The resulting 12-story complex will be the tallest structure downtown. Project delays have increased the cost. PCH also purchased and renovated the adjacent Prince Charles Hotel building and converted it into apartments.
New city council

Last month’s municipal election cost the city valuable governmental experience with the defeat of longtime members Jim Arp, Bill Crisp and Ted Mohn. The trio served about  10 years each — Crisp somewhat longer. Not only did they have the knowledge of growth, Arp, Crisp and Mohn were considered critical thinkers and were generally regarded as the most influential members of the 10-person council.

Observers noted that Mohn in particular had the advantage of analytical thinking. He even took the time recently to brief newly elected council members on how city affairs are conducted. Mayor Pro Tem Mohn will be missed by many.

The three departing members of council also had a personal understanding of the significance of Fayetteville being a bedroom community for Fort Bragg. They retired from the U.S. Army and made Fayetteville their home. Arp is a Fayetteville native. 

05 05 Arp CrispCombating Opioid abuse in Cumberland County

The Cumberland-Fayetteville Opioid Response Team wants input from the public for its 2019 Supportive Community Survey. The survey gives community members an opportunity to share with C-FORT their thoughts on how opioids and other substances affect lives. It will provide a snapshot of community knowledge and awareness about opioids. Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal heroin, fentanyl and pain relievers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. There are currently more than 90 stakeholders participating in C-FORT including the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, the District Attorney’s Office, Cape Fear Valley Health System, the city of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Police Department, Cumberland County EMS, U.S. Army Civil Affairs, Alliant Health and more. Members of the public are invited to join C-FORT. The survey will be available through Dec. 31. It can be accessed at  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/C-FORT.
05 06 opiod abuse oxycodone

The gift of education — the perfect gift

15 College studentThis is the season we wait for every year. It is a time to give thanks for the good things we have and also a time to share blessings with others. Do you need a new and unique gift idea that will not only satisfy the need to give but also significantly impact the life of the person receiving it? Consider paying for someone’s education.

Why is this idea so important? Cuts in federal and state aid programs make it harder for students to fund educational opportunities without having to take on part- or full-time employment. When students have time to participate in case competitions and clubs, collaborate with faculty, test career options and network with alumni, they find the educational journey much more fulfilling. Furthermore, a student who experiences the benefit of receiving is more apt to give back to others in the future.

Here are a few qualities of Fayetteville Technical Community College that you may not know about.

Great name recognition: Last year, 30,000 individuals participated in studies at FTCC, involving over 280 educational pathways.

Greater earning potential: On average, community college graduates will earn more than graduates with a four-year degree.

Quality instruction: Community College graduates transferring to a four-year institution will academically do better than students who started at the four-year school.

Affordability: The cost of tuition at the community college is $76 a credit hour. At many four-year institutions, the cost of tuition is $350 per hour or greater.

Incur less debt: Community college students will have reduced loan debt because educational expenses are much less.

Would you like to give a gift that changes a person’s life? There are several ways to get started. Here are just a few.

1. Meet with your financial planner and set up a 529 plan. This is a gift from you to the student and is used to fund educational experiences. There are also tax benefits that your financial planner can discuss with you. FTCC accepts payments from 529 college savings plans and 529 prepaid tuition plans.

2. Create a general scholarship for students through the FTCC Foundation office. You have input on the selection criteria and are not obligated to continue the funding past your initial donation.

3. Establish an endowed scholarship through the FTCC Foundation office. An endowed scholarship differs from a general scholarship in that the general scholarship runs out once the donor no longer funds it. Students receive money from the appreciation of the investment only. The principal remains intact.

4. Make a payment on behalf of a student at either the cashier’s area in the Thomas McLean Administration Building or the cashier’s area in the Tony Rand Student Center.
Investing in someone's education can change a life forever.

To learn more about funding scholarships for students, call the FTCC Foundation Office at 910-678-8441 to schedule an appointment.

Cape Fear Valley among the best in hospital safety

07 Leapfrog safety grade logo color jpegLeapfrog Hospital Safety Grades were created a decade ago by The Leapfrog Group, a national leader and advocate in hospital transparency. The Leapfrog Group is an independent, national nonprofit organization founded by the nation’s leading employers and private health care experts. The Leapfrog Safety Grade scored 79 hospitals in North Carolina as well as more than 2,600 acute care hospitals across the United States in its bi-annual survey of health providers.

The study ranked hospitals in various categories, including prevention measures, hospital personnel and issues with safety and surgery. The scores are based on performance measures for errors, accidents, injuries and infections. Leapfrog surveys are completed twice each year — once in the spring and again in the fall.

 Overall, 34% of North Carolina hospitals received an A, which ranked 19th nationwide. Five medical centers in the region were among the best in the country, according to the survey. They include Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville, University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill and Duke University Hospital in Durham. Two hospitals earned C grades: WakeMed Cary Hospital and the WakeMed Raleigh Campus. No North Carolina hospital received an F.

WakeMed hospitals ranked below average for patients getting various infections, “dangerous” items left in patients’ bodies during surgeries and other measures, according to Leapfrog.
“We will … strive to reach even higher for the benefit of the patients and the families we serve,” a WakeMed email to the McClatchy newsgroup said. “Unfortunately, due to a lag in the data, our Leapfrog grades do not incorporate these improvements and do not accurately represent the quality of care we deliver,” WakeMed’s email concluded.

The grades were announced this month in The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety fall assessment. The ratings system is considered the gold standard for patient safety. It is the first and only hospital rating system to be peer-reviewed by the Journal of Patient Safety. The study reviews 28 publicly available safety data measurements to produce an A, B, C, D or F score for each facility. The grades represent a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from preventable harm.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center has earned an A grade for patient safety over four straight reporting periods. The local health system serves a region of more than 800,000 people in several counties of southeastern North Carolina. The nonprofit system is the state’s eighth-largest health system made up of 7,000 team members, 850 physicians, eight hospitals, and more than 60 primary care and specialty clinics.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center on Owen Drive is the flagship of the system offering residencies in emergency medicine, internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry and general surgery, as well as a transitional year internship in affiliation with the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine at Campbell University. For more information, visit


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