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Suicide rates among the military and veterans continue to rise each year. Such a complicated issue will require a complicated response, but there are immediate steps that can help reduce the risk.
Insurance coverage for PTSD and depression treatment is imperative. Nation- and state-wide crisis hotlines can help those who feel they have nowhere to turn. We need to be able to have open and honest conversations about suicide; not shroud it in mystery.
But a solution requires more than providing the resources; it means overcoming cultural stigmas that perceive seeking help as a sign of weakness in an atmosphere that prides itself on independence and self-reliance. Those most at risk of suicide are the least likely to seek help, fearing repercussions to career and prestige.
Every person's life has meaning. Sign the petition asking the Department of Defense for more comprehensive recognition and assistance for suicidal veterans.
Dear Department of Defense:
We cannot afford to lose any more of America's dedicated men and women to suicide. Among active duty military, suicides have come to outnumber deaths from combat; veterans, meanwhile, are twice as likely to commit suicide compared to the national average. In short, we're not doing enough to make sure our service members are taken care of psychologically once they return from duty.
Often, coming home from battle can mean returning to another, more perilous war at home — a war of the mind and one that cannot be won without help from professionals. In addition, vets must contend with higher-than-average unemployment and homelessness, factors that drive up suicide rates nationwide.
I'm aware of the life-saving measures the Department of Defense has implemented to reduce the occurrence of veteran suicide, including setting up nationwide crisis hotlines and establishing more comprehensive mental health coverage. But telephone hotlines arent enough, because over 6,000 veterans take their own lives each year. This epidemic requires a comprehensive and coordinated approach that acknowledges all of the contributing factors and brings together all of the stakeholders in pursuit of a solution.
Please work with your colleagues to make sure veterans are getting the care they need.