Statistics tell us a lot about the country and the world we live in. For example, under Barack Obama's leadership, 1 in 7 Americans are now on food stamps. That pretty much sums up his administration, right?
Well, here's a statistic that I really wish was fake: Since January 1, 2014, more than 1,892 military veterans have committed suicide. Actually, that number is unfortunately higher – closer to 1,950 veterans – since that statistic is a couple days old by now.
This comes out to about 22 veterans a day that are taking their own life, or approximately one every EIGHTY MINUTES. This is a tragedy of epic proportions. However, like many tragedies, this is one we have the power to stop. We just aren't doing what is necessary!
There are currently approximately 22.5 million military veterans in the United States, 2.5 million of which have served our country since 2001. However, our veterans returning for Iraq and Afghanistan are finding it especially hard to re-enter society.
Why? Well, if you take the entire 22.5 million veteran population, approximately 15% of all Veterans have some type of service-related disability.
When the sample size is reduced to just those veterans who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan post-2001, the service-related disability rate for these 2.5 million Americans skyrockets to approximately 30%.
When you combine this with the fact that the American economy is still limping along under Barack Obama, there is no wonder why the unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the national average.
The suicide epidemic within our military, however, is not just related employment difficulties. It is much more complicated than that.
Now, I want to make clear that this isn’t you fault and it isn’t my fault. I am sure that you are like me and take the opportunity to thank a veteran for their service whenever possible,
In this practice, the country has improved leaps and bounds since Vietnam. Whether you are on the Left or the Right sides of the political spectrum, respect for military service is usually something that cuts across political cleavages.
While we are not responsible for this suicide epidemic at the individual level, we as a country have failed these brave men and women in uniform. We have failed to take care of these heroes and ensure that they receive the treatment they so desperately need!
In recent years, more American soldiers and veterans have died by their own hands than by the hands of the enemy. Every 80 minutes, an American veteran takes his or her life. This is absolutely tragic but more importantly, it is preventable!
Make no mistake, this isn’t a partisan issue. With that said, a surprising number of Democrats believe that this suicide problem can be stopped by simply disarming veterans and effectively disenfranchising them. This is not the way to stop soldiers from taking their own lives. Sure, there are certainly cases where soldiers suffering from PTSD should not have access to firearms. However, the Left’s idea that if you limit access to firearms then the problem will go away is simply foolish.
Not all Democrats are this foolish, thankfully. Senator John Walsh (D-MT) is introducing a bill to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs to better care for our returning soldiers. Sen. Walsh is also the first Iraq veteran elected to the Senate, so he knows what he is talking about. For years, the VA has been structured to only care for physical injuries. Since 2001, the VA has done a better job dealing with the psychological traumas of war, but there is still much left to be desired in our veterans’ mental health care programs.
Currently, veterans only have a five-year window to receive no-questions-asked treatment from the VA. While that might be better than nothing, research has proven that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can manifest itself 7-12 years after service. We are shutting veterans out just when they need the care the most! Senator Walsh’s bill will allow for veterans to receive VA treatment up to 15 years after they were discharged. This is a common sense step that has to be taken.
Another backwards protocol is that help is being denied outright to the very people who need it most. Veterans who try to commit suicide overseas or exhibit obvious signs of PTSD can receive what is called a “general discharge.” While a general discharge is not as bad as a dishonorable one, receiving a general discharge disqualifies you from the full slate of VA benefits that these soldiers need the most.
This is how backwards our government bureaucracy is! The soldiers who need the help the most are being turned away because they exhibited signs of needing help!
This probably outrages you, and it should! We need to be outraged over this if we have any chance of changing this backwards system!
Fortunately, most Americans do not have to deal with the traumas of war. Since the Draft was abolished in the 70s, America has maintained an all-volunteer military force. This has, however, led to unforeseen consequences.
Only 0.5% of Americans have a direct connection to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The vast majority of Americans have absolutely no personal or familial connection with a post-2001 veteran. When military service was mandatory for all men, then the war touched every household and we as a country were forced to take care of our returning warriors. Now, however, since most households are not touched by war, the problems of our military veterans are not seen as urgent.
This is disgraceful!
Additionally, the problem is compounded by the fact that since the majority of Americans are no longer forced to go off to war, our politicians have chosen to use military force even more often.
In the 40 years since the draft was abolished in 1973, our politicians have sent our men and women in uniform into harm’s way a whopping 134 separate times.
In the 40 years prior, when ALL citizens bore the responsibilities and the effects of war, our country’s leaders chose to use military force only 24 times!
The average American has been disconnected from the realities of war, so there is no wonder that our veterans continue to struggle stateside.
Luckily, YOU have the power to break this trend!
The first step toward fixing this problem is recognizing that it exists. The fact that approximately 1,950 veterans have committed suicide since the New Year should shock you and give you pause. Yet we cannot afford to pause for too long, because this unfortunate statistic grows by the hour!
I am urging you to do two things:
Please take the time to Fax Congress to tell them that you will not sit idly by while they turn their back on our veterans! These brave men and women answered the call to protect you and me, the time has come for us to rise to the occasion and start defending them!
Please forward this email to at least one of your friends. We can only fix this when the American people are forced to recognize the severity of the problem! If that means that we have to educate the American people one-by-one, then that is what we are going to do!
There is absolutely no reason why our brave veterans should be committing suicide. As a country, we have an obligation to welcome them home and help them heal their physical AND mental wounds.
But our Department of Veterans Affairs is broken. The help is not getting to those veterans who desperately need it and WE cannot sit by and allow this to happen any longer!