Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Veterans more likely to commit suicide

Captain obvious has reared his ugly head again. A recently released study confirms what Veterans groups have been telling us for decades.

Veterans are more than twice as likely to commit suicide.
Of the veterans, about 29 percent served in the Vietnam War, 28 percent in World
War Two, 16 percent in the Korean War and the rest in other conflicts up through
the 1991 Gulf War.

That's 27% between Grenada, Panama, and the First Gulf War.

I've read estimates that more than 250,000 Vietnam Veterans have committed suicide, or nearly 5 times the names etched in stone at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.

Using the numbers of this study with the number of Veterans from Vietnam that figure could be significantly higher. With 8.74 million Americans having served in Vietnam, 29% rounds to just over 2.4 million.

The study was not designed to look at the causes of the higher suicide rate, but veterans, particularly those who saw combat, are at higher risk for mental conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder as well as battle wounds that can cause disabilities.

Kaplan said because of improvements in medicine since earlier wars, some troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived wounds that may have been fatal in previous conflicts, but have serious physical and mental disabilities that may put them at higher suicide risk.

"I don't see anything out there that really bodes well for a decline in the risk for suicide. I think that this will persist," Kaplan said.

Those who committed suicide were more likely to have been white, better educated and older than the other men, the researchers found. The most acute risk was among veterans with some sort of a health problem that made them unable to participate fully in home, work or leisure activities.

The researchers said unlike some previous studies on suicides among U.S. military veterans, theirs did not focus on Vietnam War-era veterans or veterans who get health care through the Department of Veterans Affairs system. They said three-quarters of veterans do not receive health care through VA facilities.

That last stat really caught my eye.

3/4 of Veterans do not receive health care through VA facilities! And they are still tremendously overburdened.

It's a very difficult statistic to comprehend.

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