After decades of little support for and protests against military veterans, there are now more than 46,000 military support organizations eager to help America’s service members and families cope with challenges of military life, to include the aftermath of war.
Initiatives such as National Mental Health Awareness Month help to shine a light on behavioral health issues, particularly among combat veterans. Why is this important? Simple. To prevent suicide and provide veterans with the help they need.
From 2001-2013 a total of 6,661 military deaths occurred during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars. Comparatively, 8,395 post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)- related suicides were reported in 2012, for that year only, according to a Military Veterans PTSD Statistics report.
Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress are the most common mental health challenges faced by our service members. Symptoms may include apathy, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, hyperviligence and difficulty sleeping.
By 2012, in the Army alone, 73,674 soldiers were diagnosed with PTSD. Army tops the list for military suicides per capita, with a reported 23.8 per 100,000 soldiers. The lowest rate, at 16.3 belongs to the Navy, according to a 2014 Defense Department Suicide Event Report. Overall, the suicide rate per capita for active duty service members was 19.9.
For some, combat stressors were a likely trigger. Others experienced relationship upsets; legal and financial issues. More than 60 percent sought help within 90 days of their death.
The most concerning fact is unknown. How many fight silently under the radar? Many admit they would not seek help for fear that it may harm their career or threaten security clearances required to do their jobs. Ask questions. Look for “red flags,” and offer help. The Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7. Call 1-800-273-8255.