It is long overdue that America take steps to address a problem with protecting those who sacrificed so much to protect us: our military veterans, who are committing suicide at an average rate of 140 per week.
According to the Veterans Administration (VA) roughly 140 people who have previously served in the military take their own lives every week, which amounts to 20 veteran suicides each day.
Between the years of 2008 and 2016, over 6,000 veterans committed suicide. The 2016 suicide rate was 1.5 times higher among veterans than the rate for non-veteran adults.
At the top of the problem is the fact that the VA is vastly understaffed for dealing with mental health issues. Veterans can’t get the health at the times they truly need it. Further, there needs to be an effort for more proactive mental health care than reactive.
One of the major causes is the trauma experienced during war. The feeling of loss after the suicides of those veteran’s served with, only serves further to increase their own internal pain. Some vets feel ashamed or embarrassed about their own pain, struggling to hide it, and sometimes suicide can feel like the only solution.
This results in isolation, where vets are left alone to deal with their issues and pain.
Veteran suicides are nothing new, they go back to World War I, when soldiers returned home and struggled to find employment and lacked their promised compensation during the Great Depression.
One thing to remember is that the veterans who served in World War I and World War II had a different mindset than those who serve today. In those former world wars, those veterans had a very strong sense of obligation that they must serve their country.
That is not to say that some people today don’t possess that same feeling, but it is important to remember that those veterans didn’t have much of a choice. The same can be said for those who were drafted to serve in Vietnam.
Today, we live in an era of voluntary military service, as well as, an environment that encompasses more individualism within the veteran mindset.
Today’s veterans made a conscious choice to serve their country, and can have even stronger feelings of resentment when they come home to be forgotten, abandoned and neglected in dealing with the personal sacrifices they made as part of their military service.
The federal government not living up to its obligation to ensure their medical and mental well-being.