Friday, April 4, 2014

U.S. Veterans Facing “Suicide Epidemic”

With the latest Fort Hood shooting only two days behind us, the spotlight is being thrown on the mental and emotional state of all military or former military personnel. Hence the reason why it’s coming to light that over 20 veterans are committing suicide every day.
 
One life lost is horrible enough, but 20 veterans a day adds up really quickly. It’s gotten so bad that some people are referring to the problem as a “suicide epidemic.”
 
National Journal notes: “To help address the growing problem, Democratic Sen. John Walsh of Montana introduced legislation last week that includes provisions to force the Pentagon to reexamine troops who were discharged for PTSD-related behaviors – which can include nightmares, flashbacks, changes in personality, sleeping disorders, and suicidal thoughts.
 
“This bill also expands veterans’ eligibility to enroll in VA health care from five to 15 years after leaving the military. The current system doesn’t take into account the fact that some veterans have a delayed reaction to trauma after they leave the service, according to veterans’ advocates.”
 
That’s a very nice idea. And apparently Walsh is an Iraq War veteran himself, so I’m sure he means well in this matter. But with all due respect, I don’t think throwing money at the problem is going to make it go away. Not be any stretch of the imagination.
 
I’m thinking we might be facing this “suicide epidemic” for a completely different reason than lack of proper funding… That our veterans might just be killing themselves because they feel like they served for nothing. They risked their limbs and lives for nothing. They sacrificed their time and freedom for nothing.
 
Washington certainly gives that impression, taking away freedoms instead of protecting them. And our citizens don’t exactly act like they respect what our soldiers fight for. Most of us go around acting as if we’re the only ones that matter, while too many take the next detrimental step by actually terrorizing our fellow Americans, turning this country into a war zone in and of itself.
 
What do we then expect to happen to our veterans?
 
Do we think they’re then supposed to be happy about the subtle and blatant disrespect they receive? The fact that we’re spitting on our shared flag and their uniforms in particular – sometimes literally?
 
If we really cared about our veterans, we'd start caring about our country. Until then, I don't expect this tragedy to get any better.

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