An alarming report has emerged stating the suicide rate among veterans may be significantly higher than government numbers indicate. America’s Warrior Partnership, a non-profit dedicated to providing troubled veterans with needed mental health resources, has found in its five-year study that the number of suicides is more than double that listed by the Veterans Administration.
The study examined veteran deaths from the past five years, focusing on eight states for a quality sampling size. From the report:
OpDD (Operation Deep Dive, the study’s name) identified that the number of suicides represented in the eight states (18% of US veterans), are 1.37 times greater than reported by the VA from 2014-2018. If these eight states and age adjustment represented a national rate:
- Approximately 24 FSMs die per day by suicide (determined by coroner or medical examiner) compared to the VA’s 2014-2018 average of 17.7 veteran suicides per day.
- Approximately 20 FSMs die per day by Self-Injury Mortality (SIM)– previously listed as accidents/undetermined – over 80% are coded as overdose deaths.
- If these eight states collectively represented the national rate, the combined death rate would be at least 44 FSMs per day which is 2.4 times higher than the VA suicide rate.
Consider these numbers for a moment. If correct, approximately 24 veterans die by suicide every day. Twenty more die from drugs, alcohol, or other self-destructive means every day. This reaches new heights of obscene.
This story hits home. My late father served in World War Two and Korea. My late oldest brother did two tours of duty in Vietnam. Last year, I shared a letter my brother sent my father following a hellish battle:
12 November 1966
What I am going to say will be most unpleasant, but we just spent a hell of a night up here at Tai Ninh. Here’s what happened.
At 9:00, the Viet Cong hit our position with heavy mortar, recoilless rifle, and rifle grenade fire. We hit the bunker and stayed until 10:15 when the attack was over. A flare ship started illuminating the sky, but one was a dud. It hit the aviation section tent, but it hit a man who had been in Vietnam less than a month. The force practically scalped him, and the flare ignited. The man was killed instantly. I ran over there, just after the attack with a jug of water to help put out the fire caused by the flare. Quite a bit of damage was done to the inside of the tent. Men with fire extinguishers and me with my water jug (which had just been filled) tried to put out the flare (which is next to impossible.) The flare started exploding, so we hit the ground. After that, somebody said that a man was hurt badly. I went over to see if he needed some water, but he was dead when I got there. The sight was unnerving.
We finally hit the sack after midnight. Then at two o’clock in the morning, they really mortared us. We lost twelve men, WIA, two seriously (Both should live.) A mortar round landed three feet from our communications tent and RTT van. The attack lasted until three-thirty. After the attack, I was detailed to wash the blood from the inside of the RTT van. I won’t go into any gory details of either event.
I came out without a scratch. I did not panic nor was there any extreme fear on my part. One never knows how he will react to an emergency.
Our battery suffered 25% casualties during the attack. I am all right, and they moved heavy artillery in this morning, 155mm SP howitzers, to protect against another attack tonight. We should get some sleep tonight. I hope that I never have to write another letter like this again. The danger has passed, so be thankful that I pulled through OK, and go to Aunt Beth & Hazel’s house for Thanksgiving. You have a lot to be thankful for.
I saw the devastation Vietnam wreaked on my brother, a proud soldier and unashamed conservative patriot who loved his country even when it turned its back on him and his brothers in arms. I have dear friends who’ve watched loved ones endure a private hell from their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. That every power and dollar available is not going to assist those who risked their lives on our behalf is unspeakably unacceptable.
This has to stop. Now.