Veteran Suicide Rate

The first few posts of 2013 for Poli-Chi will be focused around policy New Year's Resolutions that the United States should be focused on in the New Year. Enjoy the first installment dedicated to our military personnel.

From Dec. 3, 2008 through Dec. 3, 2012, 30,137 military servicemen committed suicide. That's almost one every hour. Almost 150 every week. Almost 600 a month.

Now that it is Jan. 1, 2013, applying that same rate, the count is now around 30,600. Yet, we don't really hear about this issue in the news and, therefore, not a lot gets done to fix the problem. Part of the reason we don't hear about it in the news is that by admitting our veterans are suffering is equivalent to admitting the US has a terrible focus in its foreign policy and that domestically our military personnel, who are putting their lives on the lines, are being ignored. Who wants to admit that on national TV?

One of the major reasons that there are so many suicides is because of the trauma the soldiers faced or continue to face from being on the front lines of a never ending war. You can't shoot someone or see someone being shot and not be affected by it. The people in the military, despite their portrayals in movies and video games, are not superhuman and impervious to normal human emotions. That's their bootcamp buddy getting shot. That's an innocent civilian in the line of fire.

So, not only are military personnel living a stressed and jarring existence, once they come home and try to heal, they get put on one of two 'healing' tracks. Either they get to spend a little bit of time at home before having to ship out again and worsen their problems, or they get to come home for a longer period of time, but only to find that veteran benefits don't come quickly enough or in high enough quantities to actually be able to properly heal. Either way, they are still struggling and not receiving the proper care they need.

Not to mention the stigma that exists with mental health issues in this country for regular people. Add to that the unrealistic expectations of "toughness" (both physically and mentally) that we expect from the people fighting our wars, and we get a recipe for disaster that produces a military suicide almost every hour that passes by.

Is it asking too much in return to actually support the troops by providing services they need both here and abroad to get better instead of just providing soundbites expressing support and yellow ribbons to put on our cars? If they're protecting our freedoms, then let's protect their rights and demand that they get the care they need wherever in the world they may be, and if that is too expensive, a good cost-saving measure is ending the wars that are causing this trauma in the first place.

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