A haunting statistic in a report from the Veterans’ Administration cannot be denied: 22 veterans commit suicide each day.
That rate is a little higher than the rate in 1999 – on average, 20 veterans committed suicide each day in that year. The rate temporarily dropped to 18 in 2007, but is now back up, according to the report.
Nearly 70% of all of those suicides were men and women 50 years old or older. Female veterans and Vietnam veterans are two demographics that the VA identified as requiring extra urgency when monitoring suicidal behavior.
“The mental health and well-being of our courageous men and women who have served the nation is the highest priority for VA, and even one suicide is one too many,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said in a news release. “We have more work to do and we will use this data to continue to strengthen our suicide prevention efforts and ensure all Veterans receive the care they have earned and deserve.”
Although the latest statistics are chilling, the VA does report some good in the tragic numbers. Over the past 12 years, the rate of veteran suicides has remained stable, rather than increasing. Additionally, the overall percentage of US veterans who reportedly die by suicide has decreased – that percentage was 25% on death certificates in 1999, versus 20% now.
“This provides preliminary evidence that the programs initiated by VA are improving outcomes,” read an accompanying “executive summary” signed by Dr. Robert A. Petzel, the VA’s under secretary for health. “As long as veterans die by suicide, we must continue to improve and provide even better services and care.”
However, preliminary tallies for 2012 look bleak. The US Army reports that there are 325 “potential” suicides among active and reserve corps, which is the highest number in history. More than 50 of those deaths are still listed as “under investigation.” If the total in fact remains at 325, then the rate of suicide in the army will have risen 15% from 2011.
“The country should be outraged that we are allowing this tragedy to continue The trends are headed in the wrong direction,” said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of Americafounder and CEO Paul Rieckhoff. “As veterans, we at IAVA understand the spectrum of challenges facing veterans transitioning home, including the struggle with invisible wounds. One thing is clear, we need more research and more collaboration.”
In response to the tragic rates of veteran suicide, the VA vowed “immediate actions” to curb the suicide rates. They already have a task force in place to “provide recommendations for innovating mental health care within the VA system.” That task force will also focus on potential cases of suicide among veterans, and find ways to identify life stressors and concerns much earlier.
South Carolina Veterans’ Benefits Attorneys
As a veteran of our armed forces – whether army, navy, coast guard, air force, or marine corp – you may be entitled to benefits including medical benefits, nursing home care, and aid and attendance, which includes compensation for assistance with daily living activities for you or your spouse.
Without an attorney who understands your rights and what you may be entitled to, the risk that your claim for veteran’s benefits will be denied and/or that you may not be aware of potential benefits to which you may be entitled drastically increases.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help You File for Veterans Benefits
The veterans benefit attorneys at The Strom Law Firm, LLC understand the law and have the experience and resources necessary to help you obtain the veteran’s benefits that you deserve. To talk about your veterans’ disability benefits, your current disability rating, or what our lawyers can accomplish for you — call or contact us today for a free consultation with our veterans’ disability benefits attorney. All veterans’ disability and benefits cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. We receive no attorneys’ fees unless we are able to get your rating and your veterans’ disability payments increased. 803.252.4800.