After more than a decade of sustained conflict and multiple deployments, we now have entire generations of service members, veterans and military families who know nothing but War and that War comes home with them. Statistics show more veterans are dying from suicide, 18-22 per day, than in combat operations. As a patriotic society it is up to us to intervene. Saving the lives of veterans must be our utmost priority.
From the American Psychological Association:
Unemployment rate for veterans outpaces the civilian rate. “Recent veterans are more likely to be unemployed than their civilian counterparts. According to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in October 2011, veterans who left military service in the past decade have an unemployment rate of 11.7 percent, well above the overall jobless rate of 9.1 percent (M. Fletcher, Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2011).”
Joblessness and downturn in economy may be adding to increase in suicides. “Senior Army officials speculate that the increase in Guard and Reserve suicides may also be part of a broader national trend driven by elevated levels of joblessness and a bad economy (G. Jaffe, Washington Post, Jan. 19, 2011).”
Brain injuries linked to PTSD. “According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 15 percent of Iraq soldiers had concussions or other mild traumatic brain injuries while on active duty. Notably, these soldiers were significantly more likely to have PTSD three months after their return home than soldiers without brain injuries. Of soldiers who reported an injury that caused loss of consciousness, 44 percent had PTSD three months after returning home (Hoge et al., 2008).”
Many in need don’t seek help. “According to the Army, only 40 percent of veterans who screen positive for serious emotional problems seek help from a mental health professional (Mental Health Advisory Team IV: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2007). Statistics from the RAND Corporation are even worse, finding that only 30 percent of veterans with PTSD or depression seek help from the VA health system (Invisible Wounds of War, 2008).”
Long-term consequences of unaddressed mental health needs. “Veterans with untreated mental health problems may face severe consequences to their overall health and ability to fully reintegrate into their communities, exacerbating the potential for chronic mental health conditions. Therefore, failure to intervene early and effectively could have profound long-term costs for the health of this generation of veterans, as well as for society (Testimony by the Wounded Warrior, 2009).”