For every two American combatants killed by enemy action, one more dies by suicide. The Department of Defense reports that in the last 10 years 4,989 military personnel have been killed in action in Afghanistan and Iraq, while in the same period 2,293 active duty personnel have taken their own lives. American veterans of these and other wars account for 20% of U.S. suicides. The reality is that this country is now facing an epidemic of dire national security and humanitarian consequences as an increasing segment of our military population is turning to suicide.
Direct causes of this upward trend largely stem from issues of mental health which include traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, survivor’s guilt as well as increased drug and alcohol dependency. These are often exacerbated by the transition to civilian life that removes many of the previous support networks of service life.
Economic issues are also prevalent, as veterans often find themselves in trying financial situations as they attempt to reintegrate into a civilian society with high unemployment where the few jobs available have little demand for military skills. It does not help that the while the Veteran’s Administration budget of $138 billion has almost quadrupled since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it is still woefully inadequate to serve expanding veteran numbers and requirements.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
at 4:20 PM |