WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 24 — As President Calvin Coolidge put it, “the nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.” It’s why we take the time to remember the selfless sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines on Veterans Day. But is one day of remembrance in November enough of a commemoration. Not only have valiant service men and women given their lives to protect our freedom, bear in mind that each year thousands of former service men and women commit suicide due to service related trauma.
According to the American Addiction Centers [AAC], “suicide rates have been historically high among young veterans and older veterans as well. In the 20 years between 2001 and 2020, the suicide rate among veterans between the ages of 18 and 34 increased by 95.3%. During that same time period, the suicide rate among veterans between the ages of 55 and 74 rose 58.2%. From 2019-2020, however, the suicide rate for older veterans decreased while the suicide rate among veterans in the 18-34 age group increased.”
The AAC report explains that the chief causes of veteran suicides are depression, social problems, money troubles and engaging “in impulsive, high-risk behaviors.” Mental disorders and substance abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and traumatic brain injury (TBI) also can play a role.
However, the Center for Deployment Psychology [CDP] says it also has a lot to do with relationship problems, legal issues and workplace troubles. The CDP notes that “other medical conditions that are associated with an increased risk for suicide include traumatic brain injury (TBI), chronic pain, and sleep disorders. These conditions can contribute substantially to increased suicide risk in affected individuals. The most common method for suicide in the DoD is firearms, accounting for over 60 percent of all suicide deaths in the military.” The CDP also notes that while veterans are only 8.5% of the U.S. population, they account for about 18% of all adult suicides. “This means that approximately 20 veterans die each day by suicide [or about 7,300 veterans a year]. Like Service members, the most common method for suicide among U.S. veterans is firearms, accounting for over two-thirds of all veteran suicides.”
Active duty military personnel are also experiencing high levels of suicide. Executive Director, Elizabeth Foster, of the Pentagon’s Force Resiliency Office reported a few months ago that year-to-year active duty suicides have dipped. She reported that the active duty suicide rate fell by 15% between 2021 and 2020. However, as she put it, “while we are cautiously encouraged by the drop in these numbers, one year is not enough time to assess real change. The year-to-year trend provides helpful preliminary insight, but there is still a gradual increasing trend for suicide in the military over a 10-year period, and we need to see a sustained long-term reduction in suicide rates to know if we’re really making progress.”
If you have a friend or family member with mental issues, they may be in need of professional care. But, says Seamus Callahan at the White Light Behavioral Health, “one of the most important ways that friends, family members, and communities can support veterans in recovery is by advocating for access to quality mental health and addiction care. Unfortunately, many veterans face significant barriers to accessing care, including long wait times, lack of resources, and bureaucratic obstacles within the VA system.”
For more information about dealing with this critical issue confronting veterans at risk, organizations such as the Association of Mature American Citizens can also help. The AMAC Foundation’s dedicated Veteran Outreach Program provides online access to resources available for the men and women who have served our nation.
John Grimaldi served on the first non-partisan communications department in the New York State Assembly and is a founding member of the Board of Directors of Priva Technologies, Inc. He has served for more than thirty years as a Trustee of Daytop Village Foundation, which oversees a worldwide drug rehabilitation network.
There are many things going on in this country that do not have to be. Homelessness is totally unnecessary but is the selected way of life for thousands of people. Yes, selected, they do not have to live that way. There are jobs available, there is housing available and there is food available. Suicide, like homelessness is a personal choice. Care is available, but you have to seek it. It’s a simple as picking up the phone but you have to pick up the phone. You have to dial the help number and you have to talk to the prevention person. But with suicide there is something you and I can do, ask the question: Are you thinking of hurting yourself or someone? Almost all mass murders end with the shooter committing suicide. If you get a positive response you need to help them, find help. Yal, you might have to get involved – which is probably why the suicide rate is so high, we don’t care enough to ask the question for fear of having to get involved…..
why do you let glora…post this.
Our Veterans deserve the best care.
Our politicians steal tax payer funds to pay for illegal intruders to be able to live in the US, while services and resources for veterans of the armed forces who are poor and depressed are in short supply. There is absolutely no excuse for this travesty. Why do so many politicians insist on taking care of people who force themselves into our country and steal our services and resources, yet refuse to honor and respect those among us that we should value the most? Tragically, we have many undocumented invaders and bleeding heart progressives who act as if the US has infinite wealth and resources. They are living in a dangerous fantasy land.
Ditto,I have a problem with the first sentence Nation that forgets its defenders No one is defending the southern border where it’s needed the most
there are lots of people defending the southern border. Change the channel, or visit. Just because our President et al are useless, doesn’t mean a battle isn’t being fought there EVERY DAY. Of course, more needs to be done. Close the border!
Thanks For YOUR Honest Insight Patriot Will.
As a Korean War Medic (Hospitalcorpman) Doc.