Thursday, April 24, 2014

Veterans Deaths extend beyond the battlefield - by Charity Maness Calaveras Enterprise

As the month of March came to a close, a very poignant occasion was celebrated by veterans and military families alike across the U.S.: a zero combat death toll abroad. For the first time since February 2003, the U.S. Central Command confirmed there were no U.S. casualties on foreign soil during the month of March 2014.

While this is something to sincerely celebrate, it is also a time to reflect upon the fact that though no combat-related deaths occurred during March, during that same 31 day period, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 682 military veterans took their own lives.

Twenty-two veterans per day in the United States committed suicide. That is almost one per hour. The suicide rate for combat veterans is double the civilian population of 14 per 100,000, with veteran suicides totaling 30 per 100,000 people.

On March 27, 1,892 flags were planted on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., representing the number of veterans’ suicides since Jan. 1, 2014.

A large percentage of these unnecessary deaths can be attributed to combat-related issues, from combat trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and other issues that have gone unnoticed or untreated.

Sen. John Walsh of Montana, an Iraq vet and one of only two combat veterans in the Senate, has introduced a bill titled the Suicide Prevention for Amer-ica’s Veterans Act to help combat this pressing issue.

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