By Mark Wachtler
May 24, 2015. Washington. (ONN) With this being Memorial Day weekend, many Americans will spend their time barbecuing, watching old war movies and some just relaxing or working in the garden. But hundreds of thousands of Americans will be doing something more appropriate for the holiday. They’ll be memorializing not the countless American soldiers who gave all fighting for their country over the years, but instead a lost loved one who was one of the 35 veterans who commits suicide every day.
22 veterans per day commit suicide out of those currently enrolled in VA programs. Adding vets not in the VA, the rate is closer to 35 veteran suicides per day. Image courtesy of WBIR.com.
From the Whiteout Press Timeless Section
Support Indy-Media - Support Whiteout Press
35 veteran suicides per day, the real number
We at Whiteout Press have been exposing the wrongs perpetrated upon our nation’s fighting men and women since the day we opened our doors. We love our veterans. And that’s why it’s so heartbreaking to see so many of them take their own lives in epidemic numbers. And those numbers, even according to the VA, have been rising each year. From 16 veteran suicides per day five years ago, to 18, to 20 and finally to 22 per day in 2012. Unfortunately, the scandal-plagued Veterans Administration has gone out of its way to make the vet suicide rate disappear from public view and hasn’t issued any new statistics for two years.
In reality, the veteran suicide rate is estimated at 35 per day by many veterans groups and even many impartial observers. The discrepancy comes from the fact that the VA only counts the suicides of veterans enrolled in VA programs at the time of their self-inflicted death. The veterans who kill themselves awaiting VA services and benefits, often over a year, and those that don’t enroll at all increases that number to 35 per day.
Last year, Veterans for Common Sense publicly accused the VA of, “cooking the books on suicide data.” The group cited revelations exposed by USA Today regarding a secret campaign by VA officials to hide the number of veteran suicides, especially among those who were being treated by the Veterans Administration. At the same time, we at Whiteout Press published our own report, ‘Media ignores Flag Planting for 22 Veteran Suicides per Day’.
Examining the numbers
First, it’s worth reminding readers that these aren’t numbers, they’re people. Each one represents a man or woman with a heartbroken family, parents or children now left to grow up without a mom or dad. Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times delved deeper into the ’22 veteran suicides per day’ statistic. They found some surprising revelations.
As we also pointed out two years ago, the average veteran who commits suicide isn’t a recent war-ravaged vet from either the Gulf War or the current War on Terror. More likely, the suicide victim is a veteran of the Korean War or the Vietnam War and isn’t so much troubled by shell shock as he is by being homeless and abandoned by the system.
The statistics revealed earlier this year also show that the typical suicide victim is an unmarried white male. Additionally, rank and file soldiers commit suicide at twice the rate as retired officers. And men account for 83% of all vet suicides but female veterans have a higher suicide rate. While those stats may not surprise some, other details from the study surely will.
Government and society causing suicides, not war
One conclusion few will say out loud even though the numbers point to it is that veteran suicides aren’t always caused by the traumas of fighting on the front lines of a war. Instead, most are caused by American government and society back home. Consider the following facts to back up that theory:
So what’s causing the epidemic of veteran suicides in America? Some experts suggest that the government and VA’s efforts to fight suicides target those recently returning from war and those who saw action, leaving the rest to slip through the cracks. Other experts believe the economic collapse of 2008-2009 is to blame. They suggest recent veterans have programs and the stamina to sustain themselves during economic hardships. In contrast, longtime veterans are entering their senior years and may not even be aware there are VA programs to help them.
Regardless of the reasons and causes for the unbelievable number of veteran suicides, all Americans can agree that the number is too high. And on this Memorial Day, when we honor those who fought and died on the battlefields of the world, perhaps we could honor those who fought and died right here at home, well before their time, and for reasons that could have been prevented.
Whiteout Press is a proud and loving friend of America’s veterans. Illustrating that fact is the presence of three of the country’s most active and reputable grassroots Veterans organizations on the Whiteout Press Friends Page. They include the Veterans Party of America, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, and Veterans for Peace. Support America’s veterans, support these fine organizations.