Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vietnam Veterans took their own lives 28 times a day in the 70's

It is stunning what you can discover online without even looking for it. I was searching to validate a claim made by someone in Alaska about the number of Vietnam veterans they had when I came across this.

Evidence supporting Vietnam suicides exceeds combat deaths on a site called Teach Peace.

I keep saying nothing we're seeing today is new and this proves it.

I tracked down a couple of fascinating claims to the original sources and you'll be stunned as well.
Delayed effects of the military draft on mortality. A randomized natural experiment.
US National Library of Medicine
National Institute of Health
Hearst N, Newman TB, Hulley SB.
Abstract
To study the effect of military service during the Vietnam era on subsequent mortality, we analyzed a randomized natural experiment, the military draft lottery of 1970 to 1972.

Between 1974 and 1983, there were 14,145 deaths among California and Pennsylvania men whose dates of birth were in the years for which the draft lottery was held. The group of men with birth dates that made them eligible for the draft had a higher mortality rate than the group with birth dates that exempted them from the draft: suicide was increased by 13 percent (P = 0.005 by two-tailed test), death from motor-vehicle accidents by 8 percent (P = 0.03), and total mortality by 4 percent (P = 0.03). Only 26 percent of the men who were eligible for the draft actually entered the military.

If military service (rather than draft eligibility) was the actual risk factor, suicide and death from motor-vehicle accidents would have to have been increased by 86 percent and 53 percent among men who served in the military, to produce the increased risk that we observed among all draft-eligible men. A separate analysis that compared the causes of death in veterans and nonveterans yielded similar estimates: veterans were 65 percent and 49 percent more likely to die from suicide and motor-vehicle accidents, respectively. We conclude that the most likely explanation for these findings is that military service during the Vietnam War caused an increase in subsequent deaths from suicide and motor-vehicle accidents.


If you think military suicides are bad now, this is what reporters missed when Vietnam veterans came home.
Testimony presented to the Massachusetts Commission on the Concerns of Vietnam veterans in Greenfield, Massachusetts on May 4, 1982, declared that "Vietnam veterans have nationally averaged 28 suicides a day since 1975, amounting to over 70,000."


What makes all of this more disgraceful is the simple fact back then no one was doing anything on PTSD and few reporters cared. We didn't have the internet. The generation serving today grew up with it. The information is all out there. 40 years of research has gone into defeating PTSD but today we lost at least another 22 veterans to suicide. Why? Because people just don't invest the time to discover anything.

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