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Put An End To Veteran Suicides!

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Sponsor: The Veterans Site

Suicide is now the leading cause of death for military personnel, even above combat.

There is a crisis happening with our veterans and military personnel. Suicide rates among veterans far surpasses that of civilians. We cannot afford to lose another hero to suicide! Sign the petition asking the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to provide mandatory training for veterans and their families to help them adjust to civilian life.

These brave men and women served to protect us. Now we must be there for them!

According to the latest numbers from the VA1, roughly 18 veterans commit suicide every day in the United States. Despite constituting less than 9 percent of the population, veterans account for 18 percent of all suicides. In 2020, the military recorded 580 deaths by suicide among all services, including active-duty, National Guard and Reserve troops, and 156 just from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 that year2.

No matter what the numbers are, the simple fact is that just one veteran death by suicide is too many. We all owe our veterans a debt we can never repay, so the least we can do is be there for them and make sure they have help when they need it most.

The Armed Forces spends so much time training service members to make them the best in the world. However, after all of that training to become a service member, the military is sorely lacking the training programs to aid in the transition to civilian life3.

The Veterans Crisis Line is run by the VA to aid in suicide prevention, with several million calls answered since it was launched4. And while it is necessary to have that resource available to those who may be at risk of suicide, much more needs to be done to prevent veterans from reaching that point to begin with.

A mandatory "reverse boot camp" program for all service members leaving the military would provide an opportunity for veterans to transition into civilian life with more ease and success. It would prepare them for life outside of the Armed Forces. It would also allow the VA to better identify at-risk individuals who may need treatment or support5.

A similar program for veterans' family and friends would create a properly trained support network for each veteran. Family members could learn the warning signs and proper techniques for dealing with depression, PTSD, isolation and other factors that may lead a veteran to suicide.

Sign the petition and let the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs know that more needs to be done to help veterans and service members and put an end to the tragic suicide rates in America!

More on this issue:

  1. VA Suicide Prevention Program (July 2016), "Facts about Veteran Suicide."
  2. Meghann Myers, Military Times (30 September 2021), "Military suicides up 16 percent in 2020, but officials don’t blame pandemic."
  3. Riley-Topping, R. E. (22 September 2017), "Veteran suicide is greater than it is for civilians - we need to help them."
  4. Veterans Crisis Line. (n.d.), "Veterans Crisis Line: What It Is."
  5. Military Health System. (22 September 2016), "Suicide prevention: How to recognize the warning signs."
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The Petition:

Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs:

One veteran's death by suicide is too many in the United States. Sadly, we currently have a suicide rate among veterans which far surpasses the civilian suicide rate, with roughly 20 veteran deaths by suicide every single day. This tragic loss has been going on for years, and it needs to end now.

According to the most recent numbers from the VA, a study conducted in 2016 found that more than 7,400 veterans committed suicide in 2014 — roughly 20 per day — making up 18 percent of all suicides in the U.S. while veterans themselves comprise less than nine percent of the population. In fact, veterans are 21 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population.

This is beyond tragic. The brave men and women who serve our country and wear the uniform should have all necessary resources available to them. A soldier would never be left behind on the battlefield, but it seems our veterans are being left on their own back here at home when they need help the most.

The Veterans Crisis Line has answered nearly 3 million calls since it was first launched in 2007, and while that resource is necessary and helpful, the focus ought to be on preventing veterans from ever reaching the point of becoming suicidal, not just preventing the act suicide itself.

Perhaps no other vocation or group of people in the world go through such extensive and continued training as the members of the United States military. Young recruits are shaped, molded and trained to become the very best versions of themselves, to work as a cohesive unit, and to perform specialized tasks with precision and accuracy from the moment they join the military to the day they are discharged.

But if service members go through so much training to be successful members of the military, why are they not equally trained to be successful civilians as well?

Just as each service member enters the military by going through basic training at boot camp, there needs to be established a "reverse boot camp" for outgoing service members. This mandatory program would train veterans to be successful in their civilian life, not only in terms of vocation or education, but in terms of mental health, stability, and knowledge of the resources available to them outside the service.

Studies have shown that suicide is prevalent in both combat and non-combat veterans, making the need for a universal, mandatory transition program even more essential. This type of reverse boot camp would also allow the VA to better identify at-risk individuals who would likely benefit from treatment.

Opening this program up to family members and caregivers of veterans would also create a support network for veterans outside of the military and VA system. Rather having veterans left on their own or families without the proper knowledge and training to help a veteran in need, a program designed by service members and veterans would provide caregivers with the unique insight to better understand and respond to the multi-faceted needs of veterans, with particular focus on trauma, PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries.

Thousands of veterans commit suicide every year. This is a tragedy that does not need to happen. There may be casualties in war, but back at home our veterans deserve better. It is time to put an end to the veteran suicide epidemic.

I urge you to immediately take action to implement a reverse boot camp program as part of the military's discharge process that covers mental health, civilian life and resources available to veterans, as well as a program for the family and friends of veterans to assist and support those in need. Veterans are dying every day, and there is no time to wait while more and more lives are lost to suicide.


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