Veterans' uphill road back, struggle with suicide
The Associated Press
By STEVEN R. HURST
Published: June 25, 2013
WASHINGTON -- Five years ago, Joe Miller, then an Army Ranger captain with three Iraq tours under his belt, sat inside his home near Fort Bragg holding a cocked Beretta 40mm, and prepared to kill himself.
He didn't pull the trigger. So Miller's name wasn't added to the list of active-duty U.S. military men and women who have committed suicide. That tally reached 350 last year, a record pace of nearly one a day. That's more than the 295 American troops who were killed in Afghanistan in the same year.
"I didn't see any hope for me at the time. Everything kind of fell apart," Miller said.
"Helplessness, worthlessness. I had been having really serious panic attacks. I had been hospitalized for a while." He said he pulled back at the last minute when he recalled how he had battled the enemy in Iraq, and decided he would fight his own depression and post-traumatic stress.
The U.S. military and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acknowledge the grave difficulties facing active-duty and former members of the armed services who have been caught up in the more-than decade-long American involvement in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The system struggles to prevent suicides among troops and veterans because potential victims often don't seek counseling given the stigma still associated by many with mental illnesses or the deeply personal nature - a failed romantic relationship, for example - of a problem that often precedes suicide. Experts also cite illicit drug use, alcohol and financial woes.
The number of suicides is nearly double that of a decade ago when the United States was just a year into the Afghan war and hadn't yet invaded Iraq. While the pace is down slightly this year, it remains worryingly high.
The military says about 22 veterans kill themselves every day and a beefed up and more responsive VA could help. But how to tackle the spiking suicide number among active-duty troops, which is tracking a similar growth in suicide numbers in the general population, remains in question. The big increase in suicides among the baby boomer population especially - linked by many to the recent recession - actually began a decade before the 2008 financial meltdown.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Veterans' uphill road back struggle with suicide
The "military" does not say "about 22 veterans a day" but a limited study from the VA did. As for the "military" they had to be forced to account for their numbers. Even with that, too many reporters missed the larger tragedy of attempted suicides. Guess they don't count because they are still here. Right? Isn't that what we are supposed to believe?