Vallarta Living | Veteran Affairs | April 2008
|Suicide by American Veterans|
David Lord - PVNN
In recent training, a topic that literally brought some Veteran Service Officers to tears was the report on Suicide and the Collateral Damage to Family, by the tour of duty policies placed on the military troops fighting the "War on Terror."
|Our Military Service Volunteer's sacrifice their lives for a policy which depends on success of an "Arab Sectarian Agenda inside Iraq." Whatever that is, it will never benefit America, no matter what the oil men tell you.|
As a combat Marine of Viet Nam I recognize the sacrifice that our service men and women have contributed to America, as do you. Is America the brave wasting American troops by placing too extreme of a demand for repeated tours of duty and the Stop Loss Policies?
Are the cowards holding political office afraid to force a draft on our citizens for military service? The answer is Yes, they are unfocused and wasting time... Where is Ben Laden? Why is he still alive?
Our Military Service Volunteer's sacrifice their lives for a policy which depends on success of an "Arab Sectarian Agenda inside Iraq." Whatever that is, it will never benefit America, no matter what the oil men tell you.
The surviving families of suicide combat Veterans need help, they have suffered the loss of a loved one from military service. One question not answered is what happens when a suicide takes them after their discharge?
In this segment of my two-part report on the subject, we first look at data from a new CBS report:
There were calls in the Senate today for the Department of Veterans Affairs to take immediate action to deal with the hidden epidemic of suicides among veterans.
They are the casualties of wars you don't often hear about - soldiers who die of self-inflicted wounds. Little is known about the true scope of suicides among those who have served in the military.
But a five-month CBS News investigation discovered data that shows a startling rate of suicide, what some call a hidden epidemic, Chief Investigative Reporter "Keteyian" spoke with the families of five former soldiers who each served in Iraq - only to die battling an enemy they could not conquer. Their loved ones are now speaking out in their names.
They survived the hell that's Iraq and then they come home only to lose their life.
Twenty-three-year-old Marine reservist Jeff Lucey hanged himself with a garden hose in the cellar of this parents' home - where his father, Kevin, found him. "I saw the hose double looped around his neck," said Kevin Lucey, another military father. "There's a crisis going on and people are just turning the other way," Kevin Lucey said. "Because they don't want the true numbers of casualties to really be known," Lucey said.
Kim and Mike Bowman's son Tim was an Army reservist who patrolled one of the most dangerous places in Baghdad, known as Airport Road. "His eyes when he came back were just dead. The light wasn't there anymore," Kim Bowman said. Eight months later, on Thanksgiving Day, Tim shot himself. He was 23. "I opened up the door and there he was," recalled Mike Bowman, the father of an Army reservist. There have been some studies, but no one has ever counted the numbers nationwide. "Nobody wants to tally it up in the form of a government total," Bowman said.
Beyond the individual loss, it turns out little information exists about how widespread suicides are among these who have served in the military. Why do the families think that is?
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. "If you're just looking at the overall number of veterans themselves who've committed suicide, we have not been able to get the numbers," Murray said.
Our CBS News investigation revealed that, in 2005 alone, 120 of those who have served in the military took their own lives every week - more than double the suicide rate for those who haven't served. CBS News' investigative unit wanted the numbers, so it submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense asking for the numbers of suicides among all service members for the past 12 years.
Four months later, they sent CBS News a document, showing that between 1995 and 2007, there were almost 2,200 suicides. That's 188 last year alone. But these numbers included only "active duty" soldiers.
CBS News went to the Department of Veterans Affairs, where Dr. Ira Katz is head of mental health. "There is no epidemic in suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem," he said.
Why hasn't the VA done a national study seeking national data on how many veterans have committed suicide in this country? "That research is ongoing," he said.
So CBS News did an investigation - asking all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for veterans and non-veterans, dating back to 1995. Forty-five states sent what turned out to be a mountain of information. And what it revealed was stunning.
In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 each and every week, in just one year.
As a Veterans Advocate, I know that this is a major problem that is coming home to haunt us for years to come. Next week we'll look at what it means for the nation as more and more Veterans commit suicide.
Go to: Suicide by American Veterans - Part II
David Lord served in Vietnam as combat Marine for 1st Battalion 26th Marines, during which time he was severely wounded. He received the Purple Heart and the Presidential Unit Citation for his actions during the war in Vietnam. In Mexico, David now represents all veterans south of the U.S. border all the way to Panama, before the V.A. and the Board of Veterans Appeals. David Lord provides service to veterans at no fee. Veterans are welcome to drop in and discuss claims/benefits to which they are entitled by law at his office located at Bayside Properties, 160 Francisca Rodriguez, call him on his cell: 044 (322) 205-1323, or email him at david.lord(at)yahoo.com.
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