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Veteran Crisis - An American Problem
Reflecting on Memorial Day
Memorial Day has come and gone for this year; but it left me thinking. I remember the days of parades, 21-gun salutes, flags flying everywhere, and putting flowers on our ancestor’s graves. I kept up the tradition when I was younger, but it slowly faded away over the years. Then, the evening news gave me alarm. The editorial that evening presented one of the most alarming statistics I have heard in a long time. Our veterans are in crisis! This is not just a military issue, it is an American issue. “Almost once every hour, a military veteran commits suicide” (Selvaggi, 2013, para. 2).
This really isn’t a new crisis in America, but it wasn’t something I’d really thought about until recently. In fact, CBS first reported on this issue almost 4 years ago. However, the number of active military suicide rates hit a record high in 2012 according to Bill Briggs.
Wave 3 News
- WAVE 3 Editorial - May 28, 2013: Military Suicides - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports
One of the saddest realities of honoring our soldiers who lost their lives in service to our country is the number of self-inflicted deaths by active and veteran military members.
Veteran's Suicide Rates
Forecasts are not much better
“Advocates fear the military suicide rate will climb in coming years as more troops are drawn down in Afghanistan” (Briggs, 2013, para. 8). Looking at the table above, if we are losing 24 wonderful vets each day to suicide and the trend is expected to continue, just what does that mean? Will we lose 26 or 28 more people to suicide each day? Stop to think about this - 26 people each day means that about 9,500 veterans will commit suicide over the next year.
Seven percent of our population are veterans. Twenty percent of the suicides each year are veterans. This should not be happening. The Veterans Administration has implemented programs and even created new positions within their organization to deal with this problem; however, the problem remains. Politics and government cannot be our American cure-all. Organizations are only as good as the people who run them and the amount of time and resources they have available. Yet, it is always the citizens that make America great. This alarming statistical information on Veteran's Suicide can better be addressed when we all become knowledgeable and take action to correct this problem.
Active Duty Deaths
Veterans Health Administration
- Veterans Resource Locator
The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) provides Suicide Prevention Coordinators, general inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services at medical centers and community-based outpatient clinics.
Know what's available
Take some time to review the website above. There are several resources there to help you better understand how to help the vet in your life. Many times, our veterans will not open up to us. Their training has taught them to be strong, but that same training prevents them from seeking help when it is needed. I've never been on the front line of a war, but I can tell you that by just watching the highly publicized "Operation Desert Storm" on television made a mark on my life. I can't even begin to imagine what our wonderful vets have gone through.
If you are a vet, or know a vet and you are concerned about them, please do what you can to prevent another statistic. This is America, our vets have served to keep us free; let’s make sure we return the favor by helping them with their transition to our free American life as they return.
- The Full Story: Veterans And Suicide - CBS News
CBS Evening News: The Full Story: Veterans And Suicide - FYI: Warning Signs And Where Those At Risk Can Get Help
Resources for help:
Locate your Local Suicide Prevention Coordinator: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/GetHelp/ResourceLocator.aspx
Know the danger signs: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/SignsOfCrisis/Default.aspx
Use available resources: http://www.veteranscrisisline.net/Resources/Default.aspx
Army suicide Prevention Program: http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp
VA suicide prevention: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/
Warning signs: http://www.mentalhealth.va.gov/suicide_prevention/
Briggs, B. (2013, January). The enemy within: Soldier suicides outpaced combat deaths in 2012. Retrieved from http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/03/16309351-the-enemy-within-soldier-suicides-outpaced-combat-deaths-in-2012?lite
Briggs, B. (2013, January). Military suicide rate hit record high in 2012. Retrieved from http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/14/16510852-military-suicide-rate-hit-record-high-in-2012?lite
Briggs, B. (2013, February). 22 veterans commit suicide each day: VA report. Retrieved from http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/02/01/16811249-22-veterans-commit-suicide-each-day-va-report?lite