I’m not going to go over the stats, the news stories, the army’s stance, etc. Those are already covered enough in the media and blogging world. My best friend who survived Fallujah, Najaf, and other major campaigns, a silver star recipient, has known three people who’ve committed the act. By way of gun and car crash. As of this post, no one I know has killed themselves, unfortunately I don’t think that will hold.
I personally suffer from major depression, permanently brought on by wartime experience. (50% disability for that alone) I’ve struggled with it since I was 18, (which I found amazing the VA awarded me the disability, I was honest with them) caused by repeated blows to my head during a terrible fist fight. I haven’t been the same. Suicide’s always a way out I guess, but it’s the end all. Final. I’m fairly certain that it won’t ever be a serious thought in my head.
This ‘epidemic’ has just begun. As the war(s) close down and soldiers filter back into the U.S. and society in general, there will be more self bloodshed. 56,000 vets died in Vietnam, during the conflict. I’ve heard more than double that killed themselves in the ensuing years. Those statistics will probably carry over into our conflict.
The VA, Army, and other groups have programs in place, but there’s more to be done. Our foundation will help to alleviate some of the issues, including mine. The most important roadblock is the stigma attached to admitting you’ve got a problem. This is so strong it will prevent even the most self sufficient vet into backpedaling away from help. I was basically told I was “weak” by a close army friend the other weekend, because I had issues, or at least admitted them. It stung, but it wasn’t enough. It’s too late, I’m seeking help. Somehow that issue needs to be overcome and rectified, once that happens, healing can begin.