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Veteran Crisis - An American Problem

Updated on May 31, 2013
The VA wants you to post this everywhere you can!
The VA wants you to post this everywhere you can! | Source

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.

Veteran's Suicide Rates

Year
Suicides
1999
18/day
2009
22/day
2013
24/day

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

More active duty members commit suicide than members that are killed in the line of duty.
More active duty members commit suicide than members that are killed in the line of duty.

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.

References

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


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